Building a Preschool in Rural Swaziland

by Vusumnotfo
Oct 10, 2011

Vusumnotfo Third Progress Report - Oct 10, 2011

July 20 community meeting
July 20 community meeting

Vusumnotfo - Building a Preschool in Rural Swaziland (7882)

Progress Report 3 - October 10, 2011

By Kathy Gau - Vusumnotfo Director and Project Leader

I have a lot to report on since my July 6th report:

July 20th - Vusumnotfo met with Cetjwayo Pre-school Committee and Mgungundlovu Umphakatsi (Chiefdom),  to confirm the good news about your donations and to confirm the community requirements.  During this meeting we viewed the Global Giving web site so that everyone had a clear understanding of where project funds come from.  I wish I had been able to capture people’s reactions when they first saw photos of Nellie Mhlabane, the preschool teacher, in the Global Giving posting - it was priceless!

In that regard, we also showed the payment list that supported the Global Giving transfers - highlighting that project funds were coming from “a lot of good people across the world, each giving a little, adding up to a lot - Cetjwayo community’s obligation being the wise use of these donations”. 

We than reviewed the work-plan and responsibilities, resulting in the agreement signed by the Cetjwayo Pre-school Committee, Mgungundlovu Umphakatsi representatives, and Vusumnotfo. Note that the GPS coordinates for the Swazi Nation land allocated to the preschool are included in this agreement (refer to attachment and photo).


July 27th - Site visit by Swaziland Government Public Works Department (PWD) inspector, Mr. Owen Tfwala, to confirm layout of building specific to the site.

We than hit a bit of a snag when the community builder that had previously been identified (and Vusumnotfo had positive experiences with) gave us a quote that we thought was too high.  The Vusumnotfo Board asked him to justify the quote, but was not satisfied with his answer. 

August 24th - This situation was explained by Vusumnotfo to Mgungundlovu Umphakatsi.  It was decided that the best way forward was to put the construction of the building to tender. 

August 31st  - Four interested community builders were taken by Vusumnotfo to view Mlumati Preschool building, and than to  Vusumnotfo to discuss the building plan (Mlumati Preschool building was constructed in 2010 through funding provided by Changing Futures ( - the same building design will be used for this project).

One week later the four builders submitted their quotations to Vusumnotfo in sealed envelopes.  The result is that the original builder, Simanga Thobela, came in tied for first place (this time around he used his 2010 price for construction of Mlumati Preschool).  After consultation with PWD, it was decided to continue with Mr. Thobela as his construction work was known to be good where by the other builder was new to us. So, lesson learnt, serving as a positive role model in accountability.

September 29th - Vusumnotfo reported the above results to Mgungundlovu Umphakatsi, signed a contract with builder Simanga Thobela, notified the other three builders, and reconfirmed the arrangements for the safe storage of supplies on site.

October 3rd - Site meeting with builder, Vusumnotfo and Pre-school committee to peg out foundation, thereafter the community was responsible to dig the foundation to standard, their labour being organized by the Pre-school Committee under the authority of the Umphakatsi (ref to photo).

What is significant about this photo is the number of men digging i.e.) often in Swaziland it is the women who shoulder this type of task, particularly for something like a pre-school that is associated with young children, so the number of men digging indicates good “buy in” of the community, which positively reflects on the efforts of Cetjwayo Preschool Committee and Mgungundlovu Umphakatsi.

October 10th - Public Works Department inspected the digging and confirmed that it was to standard so the builder can now start to pour the foundation.  I would like to appreciate that although government transport has been grounded - except for emergency services, due to serious financial constraints facing the Swaziland government (refer to Times of Swaziland at - PWD inspector Mr. Owen Tfwala has agreed to take public transport to carry out the necessary inspections at each step in the building process (payments are made to the builder only after site inspections by PWD).

Supplies on site - we have also started to purchase and delivery supplies on site.  We have divided this into several different deliveries, so that we can keep pace with the builder while managing risk (ref to photos).

So what is next?  -  as the tasks are now more tangible in nature, the project is at what I call “the fun part”.  The builder and the community will carry out the tasks in accordance with the construction work-plan that was signed off.  Vusumnotfo’s role is to ensure timely inspection by PWD at the required steps in the process, to arrange purchase and delivery of supplies ahead of the builder’s work, and to support problem solving if needed.  

We are all aware that the road into Cetjwayo is crap and not passable for some few days after a rain (and we just received the first rains of the season) - however, our experience with Simanga Thobela is that now that building has started, he moves fast.  Phase 1 is to complete the preschool building; Phase 2 will be the play ground equipment thereafter.

With many thanks for your donation - and much appreciation for generating interest in this project within your circle of friends

Please pass the word - GlobalGiving's LAST Bonus Day of the year is October 19th! On this day, starting at 12:01 am EDT, GlobalGiving will be matching all donations (up to $1,000 per donor, per project) at 30%. Global Giving has $100,000 available in matching funds

P.S. - please accept my apologies for not having reported on these events in a more timely manner, but it was for good reason - a long standing promise to my daughter to climb Mtn Kilimanjaro for her 16th birthday - and as you can see, the delay was in my reporting, not the work on the ground (refer to photo - we made it to the roof top of Africa!)

Digging Foundation
Digging Foundation
Delivery of supplies
Delivery of supplies
Delivery of supplies
Delivery of supplies
Mtn Kilimanjaro
Mtn Kilimanjaro


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Organization Information


Location: Piggs Peak - Swaziland
Project Leader:
kathy gau
Piggs Peak, Swaziland

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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