Ube iNtlakohlaza Emnandi (Happy Spring!)
The projects that you have heard so much about over the years are doing well, and many are growing. Baphumelele Children’s Home recently opened its sixth and seventh cluster homes, which provide a family structure for the children, despite the huge size of the home itself (now serving over 150 children).
Emasithandane Children’s Project has purchased a piece of land in an area nearby and plans to open a new home for the kids living there long-term.
Ubuhle Babantwana, a preschool we support, is developing a new building to accommodate the rapidly growing demand for the education it provides.
The Philani Family Fund has broadened its focus to not only work with single mothers, but also to take on cases from the Philani Nutrition Centre’s orphan and vulnerable children (OVC) department, which works primarily with child-headed households. Over the past eight months, the Philani Family Fund has written three scholarships for higher education, built and refurbished seven homes, and we recently took on our first micro-loan to enable a family of Zimbabwean refugees to start their own business.
The volunteer program we run through CIEE is also improving with each semester that passes. We recently hired two new assistant coordinators: a former volunteer, Jamie Thilman, who decided to stay on an extra semester to help out with the program, and Thapelo (Thapz) Malwale, a South African graduate student working on his PhD in Chemical Science.
Over the last few months, one group of volunteers has been working with the older kids at Emasithandane. In an after-school capacity, twice a week, they have been teaching a unit about heroes. After learning about Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, and Joe Slovo, the kids wrote lyrics about the heroes they had studied. They then performed a “rap-off” in front of all of the little kids, who formed a crowd of screaming fans. We were all blown away not just by the enthusiasm and talent, but by how factual the songs were. And I think it’s safe to say that the tune of the “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Mandela” song has been stuck in all of our heads ever since!
If you’re passing through the Cape Town area, be sure to give me a shout!