WF Margate Report
We came back to South Africa just before a P2P team landed. We were allowed their help for an amazing 3 days, during which time we worked them very hard! It was a real blessing to have that manpower around for many jobs which had been piling up, and to be able to make such a visible impact in the community when we all went somewhere together. Then we had a run of bank holidays which meant some time before getting back into a routine. We have really missed our sister Fezekile while she has been studying for exams, not least because Nelson has been required at the crèche every weekday. But we are now back on track with several new threads, and new contacts being made all the time. We are feeling that our timetable of commitments is about right now, and are aware of being ‘spread too thinly’. If we fill our week up too much it becomes hard to make the most of unplanned opportunities to collect a donation, or meet someone for Bible study.
Sunday School appears to have stabilised at 10-15 children at the moment. While Fezekile has been studying Nelson and Cecilia together have taken the infants class and Caz the juniors, which doesn’t need translation. Ben’s youth class has been very up and down, partly because Nelson’s older children have not been regularly attending.
The crèche teacher at Masinenge requested that we take her learners for Sunday School as they ‘are not getting good Sunday Schooling here’ so for the past two weeks Ben has picked them up and the teacher and her teenage daughter have also come along. It was 12 the first week and 6 the next, so we’ll see how many come regularly. We may have to start paying a taxi to collect them. It was very gratifying that the teacher, Nonjabulo, who attended our first CUDDLE course and whose jungle gym the P2P team improved, approached us for Bible teaching for her learners, when there are several big churches between us and Masinenge.
Kingdom Youth is the most stable of our current projects, with 20-30 youth attending. We have had some lovely events, including a braai (BBQ) and a trip to the beach. A recent committee meeting decided we need to advertise more aggressively so flyers have been designed and we’ll do some billing for that soon. We hope to arrange an overnight camp in the spring.
Beach fun at Kingdom Youth
Correspondence course students sign up slowly, at a rate of 2-3 a month. We thought that we would be doing more home visits to these students but for various reasons that has not been the case. The mall preaching table will be restarted this week, which will hopefully increase those figures again and advertise future Bible seminar courses.
Ben made follow up contact with all of the God’s Master Plan ‘graduates’ and one of them, Kevin, had a couple of meetings with us as he asked us to go and preach in his local area, about 45 minutes south of Margate. However it transpired that he wanted us as visiting speakers to his ‘tent’ (and main sponsors!) and as his beliefs remained in common with those of mainstream Christendom we explained we could not preach alongside him with differing beliefs.
A new contact, Zama, read the ‘Free Bible Courses’ sign on the back of our car and approached Ben for classes for her youth group in Gamalakhe (the township 10 minutes inland from Margate). Her youth group, is actually a 40 member non-profit organisation (‘INDUMISO’) which started as a Sunday School to ‘give the youth something to do’ and now provides a weekly soup kitchen and daily home care to the local elderly and infirm. They fund it from Zama’s salary and by a laundry service. When we visited the group they had amazing energy and it was lovely to see young men and women trying to serve their community. The other lovely thing was that they were not asking for funds or donations but just Bible lessons. God willing we are starting an 8 week seminar /workshop series called ‘The Jesus Story’ in Gamalakhe library next week. Zama was keen to take flyers to distribute to local church pastors and schools so it will be interesting to see who turns up!
The INDUMISO group preparing soup early on Saturday morning; meeting to discuss Bible course
Usizolwethu Community Development Association (UCDA)
As reported in March, this organisation is in a bit of a hiatus at present. They are no longer running an orphanage and are in the process of re-establishing their aims and role. We met with Lulu, the chairperson, who said they may try to apply to set up a home for disabled children. They were in the process of getting the relevant authority inspections on their building but their deadline for holding onto the building was close. We have given them a bit of space, and I had a text message from Lulu this week to say she would ‘inform us of developments’ soon. It looks like the organisation will probably not continue so we would rather concentrate on those projects where we can do some good at present.
A positive related note is that the crèche teacher from there, a lady called Freda, and her hearing-impaired son Andries (who attends Lorraine school), have been very regular attendees at Margate ecclesia and Sunday School for the last 2 months.
Masinenge Soup Kitchen
Not much has changed with regard to the day to day running of the Soup Kitchen since our last report. The fridge freezer we donated is still working well. We got a couple of big donations of soya mince which were intended for the UCDA orphanage which I could pass onto the Soup Kitchen when the orphanage closed down. They are still waiting for another building from which to expand their services to the patients. Caz would love to be able to offer ‘learn English from the Bible’ lessons if this materialises.
The food garden training had an unexpected result; the neighbour saw our efforts and donated his large fertile plot for vegetable growing, along with unlimited water from his taps! This led to a large seedling donation by a local farmer, and when P2P came we were asked to help with planting the garden. This was done in their traditional way rather than the sustainable techniques we taught, but the positive value of a thriving community garden with many more people engaged overweighs that considerably. Bro Nelson and I still pop in occasionally to weed or stake something, and will still offer advice about composting and crop rotation on an ongoing basis.
Caz has been trying to get round all the delegates from the first course but it is a slow process, partly because it entails taking the car for several hours when Ben doesn’t need to travel and also requires Nelson to accompany her – but with Fezekile writing exams he has been tied to the crèche. About half the crèches have been visited and assessed, some are in a much better state than others. It is mainly outdoor play equipment that needs attention; most of the buildings are in a good state. Caz has spent some time writing to local construction/timber companies and advertising in local businesses for donations of hardware, paint etc. Not being close to a big population of Christadelphians has meant relying on our COP Trust credentials to appeal to the local community.
It was lovely to do our first upgrade when the P2P team came at the end of April – the sight of a team of GNOTKOG T shirted people singing and painting certainly caught the attention of the community in Masinenge, as well as another visiting NGO who enquired about our work.
The start of the second crèche course has been delayed somewhat as we have been trying to get a quote for putting tarpaulin blinds on the veranda at the hall. This is because to use the hall during the day for the course requires the crèche to use the veranda as a classroom, and it is getting rather chilly out there! God willing the 2nd course will begin 24th June.
When we arrived back from the UK, Stemela the hen had a boyfriend, donated by Nelson’s brother. The run we had built was not adequate really for the cock and so we had numerous disturbances of our first clutch of eggs – a single chick was born last week! We need to modify the run so that we can keep the cockerel separate at brooding time – we’re learning slowly!
After-School Club/Learning Centre
After increasing to two afternoons a week, numbers really swelled to After School Club in our first few weeks back, with the computers and P2P helping we had an all-time high of 37 kids! However numbers have dropped somewhat, probably due to a combination of colder weather, shorter daylight hours and midyear exams. We still have about 10-12 visitors regularly for the computers and the maths teacher from South Coast Academy. There is a core of Grade 12 learners who come just for his class so we are keen to encourage him to keep coming.
Adult computer skills classes were started 2 weeks ago. We have had 12 people attend, including Nonjabulo the Masinenge crèche teacher, Zama from Indumiso and Phumla, a soup kitchen committee member. Two students also applied for the Bible correspondence course during their first visit.
Brother Alastair has obtained a donation of ten microscopes so he plans to hold a teacher training course in August from the Good News Centre on microscopic techniques. This is a new syllabus requirement for teachers.
We have quite a timetable of events going on here now:
We visited the local high school, Margate Middle School to check that teachers were happy with our After School Club service when numbers dropped. They were very supportive of our work and allowed us to speak at their assembly. Their Leos club (a junior version of the Lions International) asked if we could provide a venue for their fundraising show, which was a great success with well over 100 children attending. We were able to promote our other services at the event as Ben was asked to open the show! The teachers involved were extremely grateful and one of them has attended the adult computer lessons. She just informed me yesterday that after she spoke to her friend, a local store manager, they wish to donate some takkies (trainers/sneakers!) to our crèche children.
Lorraine Development and Skills Centre
They bring one class to the Good News Centre for computer lessons on Friday mornings. We had a meeting with them about their difficulties and are looking at low cost short-term help while they wait to see if their application for land to build on will be approved – for example, a blackboard painted on the wall to relieve some space, and masonite desk material the learners can lean on to write rather than their knees!
Ben and Justin, a brother on the P2P team, took
photographs of every pupil for them to take home. Ben is also keen to launch a publicity project to inform the local community of the problems the school faces, in an effort to attract funds.
Ben is continuing to work 2 hours a week in the orphanage of ‘Give a Child A Family’. He has also been in contact with a local (wealthy) special needs department who have asked him to start teaching there one afternoon a week; negotiations are currently ongoing! He approached them initially with the Numicon maths training material. We came back from the UK with a large donation of Numicon products so Cecilia has been using some in the Good News Crèche and we donated some to another local crèche.
Caz continues to work sporadic Saturdays for Margate veterinary hospital and also Dave Watson, the son-in-law of a local sister. The SPCA is starting mobile township clinics which she may volunteer at if there is time!
Summary of future short term plans for Margate, God willing: