Welcome to the May 2018 Newsletter!
Schoolies Trip” to Zamimpilo, South Africa, November 2017
Our trip to Zamimpilo felt like an enormous success at the time, with literally and metaphorically plenty of seeds being sown.
We have delayed this report because seeds take time to grow. We have waited to share with our dedicated readers the yield this crop has resulted in….and we look forward to encouraging you about the AAF continued growth with this newsletter.
The purpose of the November trip was to give some Australian high school students the chance to give back to a very needy part of the world. The term, “It is in giving that we receive,” soon become a reality for these Australian kids, who all paid their own way and then worked exceptionally hard for the duration of the trip.
We commend these young people for not only giving of their time and hard earned money, but more importantly, to opening themselves up to (at times) quite emotionally confronting experiences.
Our “Schoolie” kids were fully immersed in what it means to live life in a remote African village. They were confronted with situations of overwhelming numbers of children in need, minimal availability of support and dire hopes for these childrens’ futures due to the complicated and impoverished issues which are uniquely South African.
During the visit the Schoolies group were able to relate to the village kids through the common language of soccer balls, dance and songs, and in this time developed meaningful relationships.
The region has an unemployment rate which is estimated at 70% +. At least half of the youth have a positive HIV status. It is unusual to even have one parent alive, and aging grandmothers are more often the only adult relative to support and shelter these village kids, who live in a remote mountain region which battles drought and extremely cold winters.
This trip (and much of AAF’s work) was made possible because of decades of work and relationship building since 1975, when John and Rosalie Schwarz first moved with their young family to this valley and commenced care for this vulnerable, remote community. The trust, reputation and relationships which have generationally occurred allow us to live among and speak to the lives of people in dire need for their survival.
AAF passionately empowers individuals, shedding light and hope where few other aid agencies venture. Hence our Australian youth were thrilled to learn about how our aid work consciously empowers youth, by teaching self-care and then microenterprise. Our Schoolies experienced this by working in our youth clubs alongside the Zulu youth with how to organically create veggie gardens and use mulching practices to increase yields of crops. This practice and knowledge leads to tummies being fed and HIV/ AIDS medications adhered to. Also, independence and self-empowerment can be realised, as individuals start selling their organic veggies.
As a flow on from this planting program our deeply committed local farmer and his wife, Ross and Julia, are volunteering their time to facilitate workshops from funds raised by Schoolies to further our vegetable garden program.
Firstly, to facilitate ownership of gardening, attempt to eliminate entitlement (topical issue for our Schoolies!) and to qualify for a gardening workshop, some commitment needs to be made from the individual, such as travelling to our centre for gardening lessons and the collection materials.
The education workshops provide lunch and a “watering can “tutorial.
On our trip we planted the 500th veggie garden by AAF and we are excited by a new initiative, aided by Julia and Ross and working with Mumsie, to teach skills which may elevate struggling individuals into being self-sufficient.
Resourceful Mumsie, in pink, created a watering can by stabbing the top of a coke bottle with pin holes
to teach locals about the importance of watering seeds. These gardens are on rocky wind-swept hills. Water is usually carried a great distance to hydrate, hence the importance of careful water use & mulching. This one-day workshop was held in March 2018 with funds provided from the Schoolies.
We should be happy to know how far our donated money stretches when all money donated goes into the program, with no overheads for management in Australia, plus the generosity of locals like these farmers and Monika, our CEO, and John, our Chairman, who generously give of their time with no pay.
$60 AUS = 350 seedlings
Thousands of seeds of carrots, beetroot, spinach
Each person is given the calendar, 4 packets of seeds (a brown bag which Julia made up) with the veggie names, an explanation of how to use the seeds safely and 12 seedlings. Ross and Julia also provide straw from their farm to mulch and lessons are given about “Gods Blanket”, which showed how moisture, earthworms, and soil health improvements will all increase crop yield.
Farmer’s hands showing the benefits after one week of mulching!
We are so excited about this project’s future and continuance!!
Comments which reflect the impact of this trip on the Schoolies:
“This trip reaffirmed my long-term commitment to understanding barriers to insufficient access to basic medical treatments in the world and an aim to eliminate these.”
“I was glad to have the chance to go to South Africa last year and see the impact of several AAF projects first hand. It is one thing to hear about it but another thing to meet the people who have had their lives changed by this work .The interns who run the youth clubs, the kids who come to the life skills camps (who now see themselves as leaders in their communities,) entire communities coming together around the hope found in their new vegetable gardens.”
“The AAF Schoolies trip was a humbling experience from which I learnt a lot about the problems in this society and what is being done to overcome or prevent these issues for future generations. Visiting community gardens supported by AAF funds was really an eye-opening experience. I learnt how beneficial the advice and techniques taught by AAF staff is in the productivity of the gardens and how advantageous these projects are to the local communities. It became obvious the extent to which these projects reach and that no other agency is active like AAF in this area burdened by needs.
“Another great aspect of the trip was having the privilege to listen to leaders such as Vusi (our youth team coordinator) speak to various youth from surrounding villages. To get to listen to the children share what they took away from this camp, along with their eagerness to teach others in their village, was truly exciting.”
We are thrilled with the response to this new fund-raising initiative and would like to thank all of you who have made the effort to deliver and donate your bottles and cans to AAF.
If it would be easier for you to leave your recyclables at the Schwarz Family Practice, we are happy for you to leave them in the marked container provided at the side car park, under the awning.
Again, many thanks
We are unable to hold a Mother’s Day Stall held at the surgery this year but some items are on sale at reception and next to the Koorong Book table.
We regret that we are unable to accept any items for selling as we have limited storage and no sale planned for the near future.
Thank you all for your continued support. None of the above work (and more) could happen without dedicated volunteers and contributors. I am so grateful by what so many do for our brothers and sisters in Africa and I thank you with all my heart.
Dr John Schwarz OAM