|Siyakhulisa Newsletter 12|
2016, the year that was and what a year it has been! - no,no, we mean that in a good way! For Siyakhulisa it's been a great year and as such we only have good news to report.
Our four matric students are busy writing their final exams and there is no doubt they will all graduate successfully from Gill College. This is a success story we can all be proud of. Our Canadian co-ordinator and sponsor, Alice Rawecki, paid us a visit in September, mainly to see these matrics before they go their different ways. Here is her account of her experience:
Bridging the Gap
We'd like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Alice for giving up her time at great expense to make the trip out here. It was amazing to witness her absolute and unselfish love and caring for our learners. Here are a few of the many photos taken during her visit:
Here Alice surprises Thobela and Chevandre when she visits them at Gill College. Thobela is the young boy she met at William Oates in 2011 when he was in Grade 6. She had it her mind then to sponsor him should he wish to attend Gill College and that is what she has done. Unfortunately Thobela has faced many challenges as the township where he lives and his home environment are not conducive to productive learning. Alice decided he needs to be in the boarding establishment and by the time she left to return to Canada he was settled in for the last term of the year. This may be too little too late and we can only hope he was able to catch up sufficiently to pass -His reward being that if he does, Alice and Dr Russell will sponsor his boarding fees next year too.
On this day Alice met Chevandre for the first time and was impressed with her exemplary manners and her show of immense gratitude for the opportunities afforded to her. Chevandré has developed into a delightful young lady and we watch her progress with interest.
Then we visited the Ngipe library. Kristine Ericson who, as you know, has donated many second hand books to this library on a number of occasions ran a project with her group of special needs children whereby she undertook that for each book they read she would donate a book to the children in Somerset East. A total of 99 books were enthusiastically read by this small group of children. Here you see Alice visiting them before she left for South Africa and after the books had already been shipped.
The books arrived in time for Alice to personally hand the boxes over to the library. She was also able to deliver a much needed laptop donated in Canada for use in the library.
Never one to miss a chance to interact with children, Alice immediately set about reading a story to the lucky children who were visiting the library that afternoon. Then they had a sing-song after which one of the children proudly showed off his reading skills to Alice. Then came the handing out of bracelets made by the children in Canada. These kiddies will be talking about this unforgettable experience for years to come.
Before I move on, a word of thanks to Kristine and Shahbaz for the many shipments of books you have sent to us. Finally we can put faces to your names. We are glad that Alice was able to see for herself and convey to you the difference you are making in the lives of so many children. One young teenage girl waits for the boxes to arrive and promptly takes 5 books out at a time. She has read every one of the Harry Potter books too.
Teachers 4 Somerset East Project
Now for our final good news story. Thanks to those who heeded our appeal in our last newsletter to assist with resolving the problem of shortage of teachers at WG Olivier Primary School, we were able to assist the school with a second teacher. The principal, Mr Horne, kindly sent us a photo of the second class of happy learners who have benefitted. Sadly it does not look as though the Education Department will step up to the plate in 2017 either so we'll maintain support for as long as we can. Apart from your kind contributions, members of the community of Somerset East, inspite of struggling themselves, have been amazing in their support of this project. This is in the true spirit of Siyakhulisa's motto - "each one save one".
Well this newsletter is looking more like a photo gallery than anything else, however I hope all the good news brightened your day. All that remains for us as Trustees is to thank you one last time in 2016 and to wish you a happy holiday season and a blessed Christmas. We'll chat again in 2017.
On behalf of Alan Russell, Rosalee Bradfield and Alice Rawecki