Our Aged 4-11 Support Groups

Sanibonani bangani! (Hello friends!)

We have almost been in South Africa for 2 months, and we are now used to living the Zulu lifestyle! Our work at Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust is going so well and we’re really excited about what the final few weeks hold.

In our first 2 weeks we observed how the current after school sessions for aged 4-11 Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) ran, met the kids and became more familiar with the curriculums they use. The sessions are run by Home-Based Carers (HBCs); amazing volunteers who live in the community and know each of the 40 children in their group by name, they know their stories, their backgrounds and their current situations at home, meaning they can really effectively help each child to grow and develop to reach their full potential.


The sessions begin with a few ice breaker games which the kids really enjoy after a long day at school, followed by a meal where each child is given a sandwich and a cup of juice funded by HACT, which is, for many of the OVCs, the last meal of their day. After every child has been fed, the HBC facilitates approximately an hour of “life-skills” curriculum, and they then finish up with a final game.

After attending a few sessions, we came to realise that the main issue that the Home-Based Carers face is the lack of a varied, interesting and thought-provoking curriculum to deliver to the children each week. They have been working from a pack of 7 sessions, of which most of the topics are already covered in life-skills lessons during school hours.


Part of our team plan is to develop a curriculum pack of new sessions. We want them to be fun, interactive and engaging, as well as relevant and informative for all the age ranges in the group and delivered appropriately to all ages, ranging from 4 up to 11 years old. We think it is very important to work alongside the Home Based Carers in developing and delivering these new sessions so that even once we leave, they can take ownership of the curriculum and continue to develop new sessions so that the support sessions are sustainable.


As we are not trained experts in developing curriculums that are appropriate and relevant to these OVCs, we are using a variety of different resources that are already available that have been tried and tested by the experts. We will be pulling out different topic ideas, activities and discussion questions, as well as relevant games and demonstrations, in order to build each session. Our team are going to work on a series of sessions entitled on “The World VS You” which will begin with building each other’s trust and learning to respect each other by appreciating our similarities and differences, followed by discussing discrimination and resolving conflicts, and then drawing it all up into understanding human and child rights. The ICS teams that follow us will continue our work by partnering with the Home Based Carers to develop and deliver series of topics based on Identity, Health and Growing Up, which will help to ensure this project is sustainable.


We have now delivered 3 sessions to 2 different primary school groups. We have included lots of fun games and activities as well as discussions and reflections.


Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, specifically the upcoming sessions for the OVCs.

Look out for our next post!

Sala kahle e ube nosuku oluhle!

(Stay well and have a good day!)

Greetings from Mariannridge!

Sanibonani or Sanibona as many people say in slang meaning Hi everyone!

So we are the Mariannridge team, and although we have been very delayed in giving everyone an update on how we are doing, I am currently using a very unstable wifi connection so please bear with us.


So, I think the team and I can gladly say that for the 4 weeks we have completed so far, Mariannridge has certainly captured our hearts and made us feel like we are part of their community and that Mariannridge is a part of us. From the day we arrived, we were introduced to Uncle Ralph who is the co-ordinator of Church Alliance for Social Transformation – C.A.S.T. and runs the Ridge Café, which has turned into our meeting place and where we always start our day.


—  By the way, we realise that in African tradition, anyone older than you is referred to as either Aunty or Uncle and if they are really old, are normally referred to as Ouma which is Afrikaans for Grandma.—

The next few days we spent getting to know the township in which we will be spending most if not all of our time. So we were treated to a grand tour of the local residency, nicknamed ‘F-Section’, located moments away from our meeting place. We very quickly found that it contained many drunks, drug users, overcrowding and is also where Barney and Jabu stay. Good luck guys! We also got to know that it is the essence of Mariannridge and we found that residing in the middle of it meant that we can really understand what it means to live in “the Ghettos” which in Zulu is called “Asinamali” — direct translation: “We don’t have money”!!!

So a typical day consists of:

Morning worship and devotion with the team and whoever wants to join, from 8-9am at the ridge Cafe which is where we spend most of our time. Then we have a morning meeting to plan our day and also discuss our ideas. We often meet with Jenny who is the Mariannridge Coordinating Committee (MCC) coordinator and she gives us a complete run down of the things we can and cannot do. Thank God for her as she has been working for MCC for the past 9 years and despite the setbacks and disappointments from failed projects, she still has hope and encourages us, giving us ideas of what we can do. This usually runs from 9-10am.

At 10:05am, Nomvelo and I coach the high school Netball team who are currently preparing to play a match against another school. I felt that the current coach needed some encouragement in commanding the children to play better and listen to her but she seems to often have an excuse as to why she cannot attend the practice.

Then from 10:30 we run a literacy programme for grade 3 learners who are slightly behind than their peers in their reading abilities. The purpose is to encourage grade 3’s to read confidently and practice reading comprehension. Between, Barney, myself and Tebogo, we have two classes each who read to us for 30 minutes and then return to their classes. We play games with them to do with reading and try to make it fun. We noticed that there is a wide range of abilities in one class which gives a good indication as to why the teachers find it difficult to engage the entire class.

Then at 12:00, we break for lunch. Then the day’s vary from this point depending on where each day takes us. Sometimes we spend the afternoon just bonding with the local community members, be it playing snooker, going swimming in the local swimming pool, or hanging out at the pastor’s house to take advantage of the wifi connection!

In our second week, the buzz around town was certainly to do with the xenophobic attacks happening just a few miles from us. So we were able to visit a refugee camp in Chatsworth, a neighbouring town which was one of the biggest refugee camps in Durban. At its highest capacity the number of refugees reached just under 3000 people including children. It was by far the most emotional and heart breaking moment of our placement and we were all moved at the sheer size of the people who had been displaced from their homes and could not go to work or open their shops as they feared for their lives. We volunteered along with other community workers in the area, religious organizations and local churches to distribute out lunch for all the xenophobic victims. It was a challenge but it was also eye opening in that we were face to face with real life victims experiencing real life issues.

145 153 152 146

Prayer requests are:

-Thank God for the safe arrival of all the teams in their designated placements.

-That God continues to lead us in where the needs are and how we can make the best impact in the community that we are working in.

-That we are able to build a good relationship with the teachers in the schools and encourage and motivate them in their jobs.

-That the team continues to bond with each other and no problems or illnesses come our way. (we are all fine so far)

-That we all settle well in our host families and maintain a good relationship with them throughout.

Keep checking for more updates on how we are doing and progressing.

Thank you for all your support and prayers for us. We are feeling very blessed to be here and that everything is going well so far. God Bless!