“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Posted in Musings / the book box

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Marie, Teachers and Learners,

I can think of no other way to express my astonishment at the achievements made at Sinetemba Aftercare School.  I just had to write! A year ago I visited the school and I was impressed.  This afternoon’s visit bowled me over.  Thank you for inviting me once again.

Four steel containers, refurbished and used as classrooms, a kitchen and IT room loaded with computers that is the latest addition I believe.  Wow! Well done.  I realise all this comes from hard work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and a daily struggle looking for donations and volunteers to keep the wheels turning.  The bright yellow walls covered in flowers and words make me smile too.  So cheerful and refreshing.

Set on a dusty playground, you and your team have successfully managed to create a safe haven for the children, who, voluntarily make the journey to the school every afternoon.  Children who live all across Zweletemba, often, in dire straits.  As you’ve explained to us many of the children’s parents work long, hard hours or are unemployed scraping a living together through Government social welfare cheques, which are meagre. 

When money runs out, love runs out the back door they say, so, it must be with many of the children.  Their struggle must often seem insurmountable.  We live in a society where there are many single parents and this in itself must be very frustrating at times too.  Taking responsibility for the welfare, education and care of a household as a single parent when there is no money must be stressful and frightening.

But, I look at the happy, wholesome, smiling faces and simply can’t believe that many of these tots have parents who are alcoholics and drug addicts, really suffering from a lack of education and a sad history.  The old adage “it takes a village to raise a child” makes perfect sense when I see how you’ve managed, in a small way, to do just that.

Not only do you help children with a plate of food, a safe haven and a basic education you’ve changed attitudes.  You demonstrate to the children that love, respect and encouragement changes lives, perceptions and attitudes.  The teachers who diligently come each afternoon to teach the pupils do it with such empathy and in a spirit of Ubuntu, it’s heartwarming and gives me hope for the future of our children, our education system and our amazing people.

Thank you Marie for allowing me to spend the afternoon at Sinetemba, I feel such gratitude for what’s happening there, but, also shame that we all do not do more for our communities.  You have set an example of what can be achieved if one makes a commitment to help.  You have a soft heart and a will of steel, you certainly are courageous and you put your money and time where your mouth is.  Not only have you managed to get the project up and running, you’ve stuck with it through thick and thin, even at times when it’s cost you your health and wellbeing.  I salute you.

It would be great to see every child from Worcester there, maybe to help or to mentor, I am sure they’d benefit from such an experience as much as the children at Sinetemba would.  “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X

To your wonderful, caring complement of staff, well done!  You are amazing.  The songs the children sang to me were uplifting and joyful, I loved the dancing and antics from the boys, they come alive as they realised I was in cahoots with them.  The littlies are going to grow up to be Van Goghs with their colourful drawings and the individual attention the group got  playing floor games shows you we have a troupe of Little Einsteins.   In the games room I saw older children playing chess, 30 seconds and Monopoly with such gusto I even thought I’d take up a board game again.  Building puzzles was never my strong suit, but, in that classroom the students made it look so easy and something I should try again.  Who knows?

You mentioned some of your donors and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their help in making this project sustainable.

1.The Vusisiswe Secondary School and previous Principal of the school Mrs Maureen Makoetlana for allowing you to use their grounds at no charge.

2.Mr Paul Lewis who helped you from the very beginning – with monetary support and through his position at Genre, for their help. Without their help you wouldn’t have been able to purchase the containers.

3.Rotary Club – for the computers.  The pupils are reaping the benefits already.

4.Marie made special mention of the anonymous donars, friends of Sinetemba who quietly go about the business of sponsoring or helping out, to you, who's time, money or labour is invaluble to this project.  You are the yeast that makes the bread rise.  Thank you.

5.Finally and most importantly, with the financial aid you receive from the UK Trust – Elizabeth’s Children – I do believe this project would never have been able to help as many children as you have.  The trust provides you with monthly financial support as well as with clothes and toys which regularly arrive from England with UK friends and Trust members.

At Sinetemba I see words become actions, as Desmond Tutu said “Dream of a world where poverty is history, dream of a world where we don't spend those obscene billions on arms, knowing full well that a tiny fraction of those budgets of death would ensure that children everywhere had clean water to drink, could afford the cheap inoculations against preventable diseases, would have good schools, adequate healthcare and decent homes.” Desmond Tutu

Here children will be armed with knowledge, a full belly, but most importantly where nothing is expected from them except that they be children for a little while longer.

Thank you for allowing me to take some photographs for this blog and for inviting me to do the short Vlog (Video blog) it was such a humbling experience with the most amazing subjects!

Once again well done to the Sinetemba Trust for the excellent work you do.  You enrich the lives of children who will be an asset to our society, who will know what it’s like to be loved, admired, respected and who will have opportunities that were denied to many millions of children in the past.  I look forward to many more visits and who knows maybe I have skills that you may find useful in the future.

Marie, your mentorship has taught a community that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – University of the Witwatersrand South Africa, 2003

 In admiration and gratitude,

Kindest regards,