November Newsletter

November 2017 Newsletter

Once again our year is speeding to an end, and as we look back on the year so far it is with gratitude that we are able to say – “it has been a good year.” It has also been a busy and fruitful year so far. Here are just a few of the highlights of what the e’Pap team has been so busy doing.

Feeding, of course, remains the heart of our project. 80 %  of our expenditure is dedicated to feeding, as is the overwhelming majority of our volunteers’ time. By the time we close for our Christmas break we will have delivered some 600,000 servings of healthy food to the children of our region. That is a lot of healthy meals and without doubt a lot of healthy children who have benefitted from our donors’ generosity and our volunteers’ enthusiasm and energy.

We continue to receive reports of the difference our feeding is making to the lives of the children – no more runny noses, children concentrating better and thus able to learn better and live fuller and more meaningful lives. The Street Children and High School children have huge bowls in the mornings and it gives them both the nutrients and energy for the day. Many of them would otherwise start the day with nothing in their tummies.

Two Pre-schools have been removed from the programme either because of lack of need or lack of commitment from the school staff and three new schools have been added. It is always exciting to see teachers recommending our project to friends who are starting new creches or Pre-schools.
Since all the Primary Schools now receive government feeding programmes, the cooks have found the load of making e’Pap as well as all the other meal preparation too onerous and have reluctantly decided to stop using e’Pap. This has affected four Primary Schools and we salute our government for increasing their commitment to school feeding. We are now able to focus our funding and efforts on the pre-school age groups.

Teacher Training
This year we have provided bursaries to 18 teachers. Sixteen are doing their training at Bronne Sentrum in Oudshoorn and two at Kynsna Education Trust. Both of these courses are fully accredited by the Department of Education. We congratulate all of our students and especially the 9 who will be completing their three year course and graduating in December.

Here is a quote from one of our teachers which epitomizes the thoughts of many of those who have benefitted from the training at Bronnesentrum in Oudtshoorn.
“I have learnt so much during my training at Bronne: 
How to be a good facilitator
How to create an open classroom atmosphere in which children feel comfortable
How to stimulate children
How to run Parent meetings
How to implement mediation.
I have gained so much experience which I do not implement only at the pre-school,    but also at home, in the community and even at my church.
God bless you for making these studies possible.“

We have just completed another of our ever popular and productive “Teacher Practical Skills Course”. Our thanks to Barbara de Jager who runs the course sessions and Marlise and Mary who do all the organization. Barbara’s workshops are always not only very practical, but great fun. She  teaches invaluable practical and inexpensive activities that teachers can introduce into the classroom. It is wonderful to see child minders and helpers come to these courses too, very nervous at first and then within an hour one can see them relax and begin to enjoy what they are being taught.

Joyce Mdingi from I LingeLom Africa in Khayalethu said, “I am joyful, often we limit ourselves because we think we don’t have enough resources but from this workshop I have learnt that we can do so much with the little we have, for instance if we don’t have glue we can use flour and water or how to make our own art work and that we can use food colouring to paint.”

Books and Stationery for our schools
Lois Kleyn started her Book Box Project in May 2016 and has assembled several boxes of books both Fiction and Non-fiction.
She started with just two boxes and she now has eleven circulating with over 500 books. These rotate amongst some of our schools. Teachers and children are loving the variety of books they have to choose from at story time. We thank Lois for her passion and expertise in this area.

The stationery which we supply on an ongoing basis is gratefully received by the teachers. This includes paint, paintbrushes, crayons, glue, prestick and paper. This enables the teachers to do all sorts of exciting art projects which they would be unable to afford to do without our assistance.

School improvement activities

This is a small but important area of our work. Although it only consumes 3% of our expenditure and impacts on only a small number of schools, it provides vital support to those schools that need a little “leg up”.

We have provided mattresses for some schools where children were napping on the hard, cold concrete, roofing sheets to replace leaking sheets, and other things which have made a discernible difference to the lives of the children. We have also been able to supply some Educational Equipment to some schools. This is a very expensive item for the Principals to buy, so having some donations of puzzles, blocks etc. helps a great deal.

The e’Pap Children’s Feeding project does not have employees. Our group of over 90 volunteers do the work of regularly delivering the food, monitoring it’s usage and helping the schools in an amazing and inspirational number of different ways. Some, retired teachers help with lessons or activities, others bring music to the children, some read stories or do some handwork.  All help to motivate and support the teachers, cooks and principals at their particular school. A couple of our volunteers also attended the Practical Skills Course in order to be able to help the teachers implement the new ideas they had learned.

As I mentioned in our small group meetings, the Feeding Project is more like a spider’s web with many mini projects radiating from the central core of feeding, where many Volunteers have their own little areas of service.

There are two areas that need ongoing attention – communicating with our almost 300 donors and 100 volunteers. It is these two groups who make it possible to serve our children. Our thanks to Annie who handles the bulk of the communication with donors and does it with great aplomb.
Over the last few months we have hosted our midyear series of small group meetings with our teams of volunteers in Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. These as usual proved to be invaluable, enabling new volunteers to be able to chat and ask questions and to get a better picture of the whole project. It is also a forum where people are able to meet and get to know other volunteers.
In the last quarter we will be hosting our large end of year volunteers’ meeting where we will watch an inspirational DVD, share a meal and become acquainted with a bigger picture of the Children’s Feeding Project.

How we used our donor’s funds this year

Knysna Fires
A number of individuals made donations specifically to enable us to assist those who had suffered as a result of the fires in June. Although hundreds lost their houses in these fires, including a number of our volunteers, not a single school was lost. However some of the teachers in the townships lost everything. We  are using the “fire fund” to help put them back on their feet.
Priscilla is one who lost everything. The municipality has replaced her home and we are helping to equip it. Here is Shelley handing over a gas cooker to Priscilla (center). The Principal, Vuyelwa (left), seemed just a happy.

In Closing
Finally to all those who invest their skills, their energy, their time, their money and their love in making our project the blessing it has become to the children of the Garden Route; we wish you a most blessed Christmas.
Thank you
The e’Pap team