Time to Say Goodbye!

What can I say, it’s our last week here at Imbeleko Foundation. Looking back I am proud of what we have achieved during our time here. We have been challenged, had fun and also worked very hard!

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High School Assessments

Over the past 2 Mondays we were able to finish all 70 of the High School Neema English Assessments. We were surprised at how hard some of the pupils found it to spell some simple words in English. We are glad that the English sessions at Imbeleko Foundation will be able to help them in the future. Some of the High Schools were very far from the main road so due to the lack of taxis we had to walk. It was yet another opportunity to explore the beautiful Valley of 1000 Hills.

Primary After School Programme

After finishing all of the Primary School Neema Foundation assessments the previous week, we were glad to be able to finally start to teach the English Lessons. We have been working in small groups with 5 or 6 learners teaching mainly phonics based sessions. With a lot of speaking and practise you can imagine it can be very noisy at times. It was also a great opportunity to get to know the children more. Their energy was infectious and even if you had had a tiring day they still managed to cheer you up.

Even though we have only been working in the schools for 4 weeks we have built lots of relationships with the kids and even some of the teachers- it has been difficult for us to say goodbye. It was so touching when one child gave a goodbye speech to us in front of her whole class. She said

“The teachers of Imbeleko, you guys have sacrificed your time to give us a better education and shape us to a brighter future… what you do you do it with passion. I wonder how you manage to put a smile to so many hopeless children.”

They are all so motivated to study and reach for their dreams and I wonder where all of them will be in 10 years’ time.

Church

For the majority of placement we have been attending 1000 Hills Baptist in community. We received the warmest of welcomes from all the members of the church and it has been a real blessing to go each week. The worship and wonderful singing was always a highlight. By the last week even the UK volunteers could even sometimes join in.

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Farewells

On Wednesday evening during our final week, Pastor Vika and his wife from 1000 Hills Baptist Church invited us to their lovely home for a goodbye meal and to discuss what we had been doing over our time in KwaNyuswa. It is exciting to have started a partnership with ICS and the Church as they have lots of things that future teams could get involved with.

On the Thursday evening our team leaders host family had the team over for a farewell dinner. We were all very excited to discover it was fried chicken, rice and lots of different salads. The host mum and dad both shared a short speech and thanked the team for their work in the community, sharing how much it had inspired and encouraged them.

On Friday day time Imbeleko Foundation threw a surprise party for us, with wonderful snacks, cake and drinks provided along with a note thanking us for everything we had done. We then presented to them all the work we had done and thanked them for being so welcoming and supportive. It was very sad leaving Imbeleko Foundation after building such special working relationships with their 3 staff members. At least we had lots of cake to comfort us (I held the record eating 4 slices!). On Friday evening everyone then spent time with their host families and for UK volunteers it was time to enjoy their last South African meal with their families.

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On Saturday we then say our final farewells to our families and community and headed back to Glenmore Pastoral Centre where we have been having ICS debrief. This is a wonderful time to catch up with other teams, reflect on our experiences and share stories about the incredible people we have met and worked with on our ICS journey.  Not one of us leaves ICS unchanged. Each person has taken their own journey of personal development and cannot but help leave inspired and motivated to make a positive impact wherever they go! We may not be able to change the whole world but each of us can make our mark! As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewells

On Wednesday evening during our final week, Pastor Vika and his wife from 1000 Hills Baptist Church invited us to their lovely home for a goodbye meal and to discuss what we had been doing over our time in KwaNyuswa. It is exciting to have started a partnership with ICS and the Church as they have lots of things that future teams could get involved with.

On the Thursday evening our team leaders host family had the team over for a farewell dinner. We were all very excited to discover it was fried chicken, rice and lots of different salads. The host mum and dad both shared a short speech and thanked the team for their work in the community, sharing how much it had inspired and encouraged them.

On Friday day time Imbeleko Foundation threw a surprise party for us, with wonderful snacks, cake and drinks provided along with a note thanking us for everything we had done. It was very sad leaving Imbeleko Foundation after building such special working relationships with their 3 staff members. At least we had lots of cake to comfort us (I held the record eating 4 slices!). On Friday evening everyone then spent time with their host families and for UK volunteers it was time to enjoy their last South African meal with their families.

On Saturday we then say our final farewells to our families and community and headed back to Glenmore Pastoral Centre where we have been having ICS debrief. This is a wonderful time to catch up with other teams, reflect on our experiences and share stories about the incredible people we have met and worked with on our ICS journey.  Not one of us leaves ICS unchanged. Each person has taken their own journey of personal development and cannot but help leave inspired and motivated to make a positive impact wherever they go! We may not be able to change the whole world but each of us can make our mark! As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

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Imbeleko Blog Post No. 2

Sorry that such a long time has passed since our last update. Over the past few weeks have been very busy here at the Imbeleko Foundation. There is so much to share with you all!

An update on our home visits

I am pleased to say that in just 2 weeks we were able to complete all of our 80 primary school home visits along with our database capturing all of the information on each child. The home visits were the final step in completing the Imbeleko enrolment process. Even though it was at times an exhausting task walking to each of the homes, it was a unique opportunity to explore the community of KwaNyuswa with the beautiful backdrop of the Valley of 1000 Hills. Meeting the kids, hearing their stories and walking the distance that they travel to school every day (often uphill and sometimes very far) showed us how motivated they are to learn and to get a good education. All of that has inspired us as a team to try and create the best after school programme possible.

After school education programme

The after school sessions last for 1½ hours each and take place in 4 of the primary schools in the area. Every session includes 45 minutes of Life Skills and 45 minutes of English. We are implementing 4 sessions of this new programme and the next ICS team will then take over. Our decided topic for each of the life skills sessions is Identity, covering themes such as values, healthy relationships and peer pressure. We have also spent some time carrying out community mapping exercises with the pupils. This aims to give both the ICS team and the Peace Corps volunteers a clearer idea of the way in which the children view their community; i.e. the layout of their community, what they like/ don’t like about it, what they find challenging, what they would like to see etc. This research can then be used to help inform future community development projects in the area.

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The English Programme we have been recently trained on and will be using is called “Gateway into Reading” by the Neema Foundation. Neema Foundation aims to “bring hope through education”. English is a key factor in succeeding within higher education and securing jobs in South Africa and this is why Imbeleko have picked it as a main focus in the primary school programme. We are excited to be using the Neema Foundation programme as they have had great results improving English skills in pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. At the moment we are completing the first 2 weeks of the programme. This consists of phonics, reading and spelling assessments to find out the English level of each learner, and from there we will then be able to tailor the programme to best suit them.

Creating a holiday club resource

We are currently working on our Holiday Club Resource that we can hand over to the next team, who will then implement it during the July school break. 150 High School pupils will take part in the week long educational and fun programme. There will be workshops each morning in Media, Drama, Arts and Craft, Sports and Dance. Then in the afternoons there will be talks based around some issues that may affect the young people; drug and alcohol abuse, internet safety and sexual and reproductive health. Plans are also in progress for a team challenge day and also a community action day (including a litter clear up, gardening and possibly painting a mural in the community). This is the first Holiday Programme that Imbeleko is running on such a large scale and we have enjoyed being a part of the planning even though we will not be there when it takes place.

Raising awareness and funding for the Imbeleko Foundation

Sbu the CEO of Imbeleko has taken on the challenge of walking and cycling 1000 kms over a period of 12 weeks. This has the aim of making the dreams of a 1000 children from the Valley of 1000 Hills a reality. On the 16th of May we joined Sbu along with 150 other people (both High School students and other guests) on a 5k walk through the community to raise awareness and funds for Imbeleko. Our team played a role in helping to coordinate the walk and Steph designed a banner and invitations. As it was also Sbu’s 40th birthday there was a big celebration afterwards with food, music and speeches. The day was a massive success! It was crazy how it all came together with only 1 ½ weeks of planning.

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Thanks for taking time to read about what we’ve been getting up to. There has been a lot of hard work but also laughter and joy on our ICS journey so far! Please continue to pray for us as we go into the final weeks of our placement.

Why not add a comment or share.

Catherine (and the rest of the Imbeleko Foundation team) 🙂

 

Hello from the Imbeleko Foundation team!

SANIBONANI from Team Imbeleko!

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ICS ‘Team Imbeleko’ with Phindile, one of the staff from The Imbeleko Foundation. From left to right: Sphesihle, Catherine, Phindile, Steph (Team Leader), Innocentia, Leroy.

It’s hard to believe that we have now been in South Africa for over 2 weeks. Time really does fly! Orientation in Week 1 was absolutely jam-packed. We had the opportunity to meet new people and receive training on a number of topics including poverty, HIV/AIDS, child development and sexual and reproductive health.  We also found out what to expect on placement etc. as well as being given the chance to get used to the food (fish fingers for breakfast was very interesting).

It was really amazing to see 46 UK and South African volunteers, from different backgrounds coming together with a common purpose- to make a difference in our world!

Leaving orientation on the 17th April we knew a little more about the Imbeleko Foundation. However, the Imbeleko Foundation has never had an ICS team based there before so we didn’t have any handover notes from previous teams and didn’t quite know what to expect. It was an exciting prospect for our team getting to develop new projects with the NGO but we have to admit, we were nervous going into the unknown. There was no need to be anxious however, as on Saturday night we met the amazing Sbu who is the director of Imbeleko Foundation. Along with having a delicious meal, we had the opportunity to hear how passionate Sbu is about helping the children/young people in KwaNyuswa to fulfil their potential. We also met the Peace Corps volunteers Anna and Matt who are also based at the organisation.

The Imbeleko Foundation was founded by Sbu’s sister, Dr Seni Myeni who grew up in KwaNyuswa. Dr Seni grew up with great support from a community of women which inspired her to give back and mentor young girls. As a physician who lived with brain cancer for 3 years she began to understand the challenges faced by mothers who were diagnosed with terminal illnesses and the fears they faced about leaving their children behind, especially in poor rural communities. She then established the NGO with the purpose of giving hope to orphaned children. ‘Imbeleko’ is a Zulu word for a cloth that is used by African mothers to carry babies on their backs. Imbeleko provides warmth and allows them to hear their mother’s heartbeat when they lay their head against their mothers back. The Imbeleko Foundation aims to do just this – provide warmth, love and care to orphans.

During our 9 week placement we are all living with host families within the community of KwaNyuswa based in the absolutely beautiful, Valley of a Thousand Hills.

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The past week has been filled with many firsts for our team.  It has been a challenge for us at times- experiencing water shortages, load shedding, new food and being away from home! We have however, received a very warm welcome from our Host Families, community and Churches which has helped us to settle in.

On the placement so far, we have been making plans for how we are going to fulfil our team vision:

To be a team who seek to empower the people we serve to realise their full potential in God, embracing their individuality. We will be positive role models who will strive to seek justice and teach key life skills in an authentic and loving way.

Over the past week we created a database to capture information on approximately 250 children and young people who will be part of the new Imbeleko Foundation education programme; this will consist of an after school programme for primary school pupils and a Saturday morning programme for secondary school pupils. The education programme will teach topics such as Maths, English, Science, Accounting and Life Skills (topics depend on the age of the pupils). The information is gathered through both school referrals and follow up home visits. Over the next couple of weeks we are taking on the challenging task of visiting over 200 family homes to record information on each child taking part in the programme… we better get our walking shoes ready!

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The home visits take a holistic approach, assessing the socio-economic status of the household as well as, for example, the health of the child/young person, their interests/hobbies and their educational progress. The data gathered in the database may even be used by the organisation in the future to apply for donor funding; having evidenced the need for the education programme.

Over the next 8 week we will also be busy creating a holiday club resource. This will be used by the next team in the summer who will arrive just in time to run the holiday club. We are also looking to set up a Library in KwaNyuswa Primary School, with books donated to Imbeleko Foundation, and will be helping to begin preparations for a community end of year event.

THANK YOU for taking time to read about how we are getting on! Why not keep in touch by adding a comment. It would also be amazing if you could keep us and the project in your prayers over the coming weeks.

Keep an eye out for another update soon.

Catherine (and the rest of the Imbeleko Foundation team)

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