Welcome to 2015! We hope your Christmas and holiday season was relaxing and invigorating. We are looking forward to new and continuing projects, new and continuing volunteers and many great results through the work weundertake in South Africa.
From John and Rosalie:
It is exciting that many of the young people who have been through our Value Based Life Skills (VBLS) program have now matriculated.
What has really made us sad this week is to hear that some of these fine young people are so poor that they did not have the funds to apply for bursaries to further their education.
We have helped lift them from the depths of despair through their being orphaned or abused, given them great expectations of themselves, only to find them stymied by their lack of resources.
This has shocked us and we are determined that we must not let them falter at this last hurdle and must find the extra funds.
Since John and I received this news we keep thinking of these young people staying at home in their very deprived homes, mainly mud huts in isolated places.
We are wondering if funds could be raised to set up training workshops for them with locals or overseas people donating teaching time to help them find some useful skills.
We would need extra staff or extra funds for the staff we have. We only pay part time money to the teachers at VBLS and their lives are very difficult.
If you are able to help, every cent raised for this will go to this effort to help these young people. Click on this link for donation information. You are able to donate either online, by cheque, direct debit or credit card.
There are some stories following that will touch your hearts and make you glad that we have this great privilege of helping these very special young ones.
John and Rosalie Schwarz.
My name is Lindokuhle Kheswa. I am 19 years old, am currently doing B Commerce/Accounting in the University of KwaZulu Natal. I was born and grew up in Bergville. I was born as a result of a teenage relationship. My mother and father were too young when they had me so I had to live with my grandmother while they were still continuing with their studies. Both my parent’s families were struggling in life, so it was so difficult to raise a child.
In my early childhood I was raised by my grandmother and I was not the only child she was raising, there were many of us and we were born of the same circumstance. We all had to rely on my grandmother’s pension because there was no one who was willing to help within the family.
We used to be 15 people living in the same house. As my father was living in Johannesburg, my mother, my brother and I had to visit him there. Most of the times my father came home drunk and he ended up beating us. I still remember how he used to beat me and told me I was not his son, after thathe chased me out of the house. Every Friday my routine was to sleep in the toilet after my father has chased me out of the house.
When my parents separated things became very worse because we had nobody to look after us and a lot of things changed. My brother started to smoke dagga (marijuana) and I was there watching him knowing I cannot do anything but I kept on hoping that things will get better and they did not.
During my primary and high school, my life experience of hardship kept me going as I didn’t want to see it happening to someone else. I studied harder and harder just to prevent my past to become my future. I remember when I was in grade 12 writing my final exams, my father called me and told me I was not going to pass and my school will remember me as a failure. Well guess what? I proved him wrong; I passed on top of my class and I proved to him that am not a failure.
VBLS is one of the youth projects in the whole world that has transformed many lives. They inspired me by the way they do things, many youth projects when they do something they do not include God but it is another story with VBLS. I joined VBLS because of their uniqueness and the fact that they put God first in every step they take. VBLS also deals with issues that are currently facing the youth.
VBLS has contributed in my life in many positive ways. I would not be where I am if it was not for VBLS. They have helped me to deal with all the negative thoughts and feelings that I used to have and they helped me to overcome the issues that caused me so much painand made me feel uncomfortable.
VBLS also helped me to develop my interpersonal and leadership skills. They did that by emphasizing that whether we like it or not at some point in our lives we going to need these skills.
As I am doing B Com/Accounting, there are many aspects that inspired me to actually do this course. I gotinterested in accounting while I was doing grade 10. I liked the process of keeping finances organized and finding out where the money went and beside that I just love everything that has to do with accounting. I also did this course because of my dream of wanting to be an accountant some day.
I have always wanted to be part of the solution not part of the problem. I can contribute to VBLS by offering my services such as mentoring other youth on how to tackle life’s challenges. I can also contribute by funding this project one day because I think it is a good project and it needs to grow.
“The past makes us who we are, but never make it your burden.”
Lindokuhle Troy Kheswa.
The transforming story of Thembelani Oscar Nyembe
This is Thembelani’s story.
He was born on 27 May 1992. His father died when he was 8 years and in grade 2 at school. His mother died 4 years later and he went to live with his grandmother.
During this time he says, “I was hopeless, I was going to school just for the sake of going to school. I didn’t have any purpose or vision for my future.
The Value Based Life Skills team found me when I was hopeless and wishing to die, like my parents. Things started to change in my life when they came in our village. The lessons I got, brought back the hope I had lost due to the death of my parents.
Before this time I was doing badly at school. My grades were unimpressive. I started to work harder because I felt hopeful again. In 2009 I was in the top 10 of my class, coming 7th to be precise. My association with VBLS taught me how to choose good friends who were going to contribute positively to my life.
At school there was a task team that was chosen. The team consisted of the well performing children and I was not chosen because at that time as I was not doing well. I worked hard and ended up being chosen tobe part of this team.
My hard work was inspired by the VBLS team who kept on telling me they were available any time I needed them. I had lost my parents but there are people that cared about me and were willing to help.
During the VBLS workshops, we are given the chance to show case our talents. That platform helped me to get rid of my shyness and learn from what other people are doing.
When I got into university the VBLS lessons came back. I did not know anyone there but I had been taught how to choose good friends that share my vision. The choice of friends I made helped me to do well in my studies. I am playing many sports – golf and cricket are my favourite”.
Thembelani lost his grandmother in early 2013 and this was a very difficult time for him. Despite this loss, he did go on to achieve excellent academic results in his first year at university.
Thembelani hopes “that VBLS will continue to help many young people.” He is willing to tutor grade 12 students in mathematics. He is also prepared to contribute financially to the VBLS program so that it can go on helping more young people.
His personal goal is to break the cycle of poverty in his family and help his siblings get a better education. He also would like to renovate his family home.
News from Philakahle
One of the important aims of the Philakahle Wellbeing Centre is to contribute to increasing the number of women, men, girls and boys in Okhahlamba, who know their HIV and TB status and access treatment as necessary.
How is this aim achieved? They have held a number of workshops to strengthen the partnership and communication channels between Philakahle and the Public Service. The goal of this partnership is to increase the number of patients who adhere to treatment and increase the number of patients cured of TB, to increase the number of patients who have gardens and increase the number of people knowing their status.
Clients (patients) and family members are encouraged to know their TB/HIV status by going for HCT and TB screening. This helps them stay motivated by telling us about the challenges that they (patients) are facing when it comes to adhering to treatment and then we are able to go and do follow up visits just to encourage them to continue with their treatment. We have found that this helps because the patients seem to be very happy and feel the importance of taking their treatment when they are being visited by someone they regard as important.
The following story about XOLILE CYNTIA MKHONZA tells how this all works out in practice:
Picture: Xolile Mkhonza and herAdopted daughter Siyamthanda in the picture.
Xolile is a 52 years old woman who lives at Rookdale which is 12km away from Bergville town. She stays with her husband and their 6 year old adopted daughter Siyamthanda.
Xolile, in her own words says, “I saw how Philakahle has helped the communities with people living with HIV and TB and the most vulnerable. Then I saw that I have to give. I don’t have a child of my own. I have not given birth to anyone then I decided to adopt the child. I went to Colenso in an orphanage called Khayalethu it is where I got my lovely and dearest Siyamthanda through the assistant of Social Workers. I became patient because it took a long time. I have 2 years staying with my child now. Siyamthanda is 6 years and she is in Grade R. What makes me happy is that we are both born on the same month February. We are related with Siyamthanda her mother is a Mbhele and my mother is also a Mbhele.”
Xolile continues “In 2001 I attended a World Vision Transformational Leadership taught by consultant (Miriam). She taught us about the symptoms of HIV & TB. Therefore when I saw changes in my body (I lost weight) I became motivated to go into the nearby health institution to check for TB and the results were positive. Then I found out that I have spinal cord TB. Then I tested for HIV and the results were positive. Then I attended classes at Ladysmith Provincial Hospital on how to take our medication. Then I accepted that I was tested positive and I acted positive towards the situation. What worries me the most is that most of the people that I attended the classes with have all passed away. I think they didn’t accept the situation. I fetch my ARV’s (Anti retroviral medication) at Bergville clinic I enjoy taking my medication and I’m glad that now I am only taking one pill.”
In 2002 Philakahle sponsored Xolile with a garden and she was taught how to take care of the garden and how to cook healthy food. Philakahle also sponsored her with fence and water tank. She sold the vegetables from the garden which became her source of income.
Xolile and the customer in the picture in her tuck-shop
Now she has a tuck-shop as well which allows her to satisfy the needs of herself and her child Siyamthanda.
She says “I am really grateful for the support I got from Philakahle and it has really contributed to the life I am living now. I also thank the donors of Philakahle who make it possible for Philakahle to carry the mission to assist the communities in making a difference in their lives. Ngiyabonga kakhulu (Thanks very much)”
These pictures show the establishment of the new garden and follow-up, as we help patients in our community.
Report on Values Based Life Skills Project
The work of Vusi Mapaphala in the VBLS project is wide and varied. It involves working with children in schools as well as in tertiary institutions. It is particularly concerned to fill the gap for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) left in households that do not have two active parents and to increase self-esteem and hope for OVCs.
In the last months of 2014 the team visited more than 12 schools to build relationships and follow-up on issues of abuse and other emotional issues. This involved about 1500 students from primary to high school.
An example of the work that this involves is at Intumbane Primary School (supported by St Peters Anglican School at Campbelltown) where Sizakele Mazibuko acts as a counselor for VBLS.
She has been able to address some of the issues the children were facing. Vusi reports that the learners of grade 5 have connected well with her in such a way that they are able to share sensitive issues with her. She has managed to unearth the personal issues that young people are facing and those they have gone through over the years. Such issues are having negative impact in their learning experience. Some of the situations are physical, emotional and sexual abuse. There was a case where the children were not allowed to use any facility at home which was affecting their study because they are not allowed to use electricity to study. Sizakele met with the mother of the children and the issue seems to be going to be resolved. The good thing is that Sizakele is able to meet young people every week which is the advantage of having someone working in the specific school. We hope that we will have many such people who are stationed in specific schools to work there in the community so that they will be able to do other activities during weekends.
Another dimension of the work of VBLS is through mentoring – especially for tertiary students and those in their final year of high school. A workshop was held so that those already in the tertiary sector would mentor those who are going to Universities in 2015. Vusi writes that “In the tertiary institutions we have the number of young people who are doing first, second, third year and others have completed their studies and they are now doing in service training to complete their respective diplomas or degree. Sabelo Mazibuko and Thembelani Nyembe are those who have completed their diplomas and they are doing in service training. The mentoring went well because those in the higher institutions were able to help their peers regarding career choices. They shared how difficult life was when they had to go to the tertiary institution having never been out of the comfort of their home around family members, now they are going to make decision on their own. The difficulty they faced when going to the institution alone was knowing no one to go with and not knowing which section to go when in the institution, the vulnerability because some other people ask people who will try to help them, only to find that they have other agendas”.
Xolani Mazibuko, who is at Mangosuthu, addressing the youth leaders
The sport attire for Hambrook Primary school
But they shared with the young people the importance of applying the life skills learnt in the VBLS. One of the ways these young people said it helped them was that in the VBLS they learnt to formulate their life and career visions, trusting God and fight for your destiny. They also shared the importance of taking one’s study seriously, because there is no one who will follow you about your studies. You are the one who has to motivate yourself about your study. “The university is not the same as the high school in the sense that in the high school the teachers and parents are behind you but in the university you are on your own”. They were warned against the choice of friends, in that learning environment there are vultures who want to eat their flesh. The young people who are going to the universities in 2015 are much better off, because they now have sisters and brothers who will help them when they come to the universities. The universities where we have young people is UKZN Pietermaritzburg and Westville, Edgewood and University of Zululand
Grade 11 to grade 12
The learners who are doing grade 11 were given the tips on how to be able to do well in their grade 12. The tips that they were shared were that dedication and the love for the study is so important. They need to stop engaging in other things and focus on their matric class in order to do well.
Thanks to AAF
Vusi says that we are grateful for the support AAF is offering to the development of the African children. In 2014 there has the support that AAF given to the schools that have the relationship with the Australian schools. We thank you for the support given to the VBLS project special appeal when there was a need for extra money. All that you have done has made a huge difference in our lives and the lives of the young people that are connected to the VBLS. We are looking forward to a better year of growth at the project and more achievement.
Once again, thank you for yopu interest and support.