Completion of the new building

NET VIR PRET

PROGRESS REPORT: February to July 2014

COMPLETION OF THE NEW BUILDING

We are delighted to report that under the very competent supervision of our builder, Nigel Hewitt, and except for minor finishes (burglar-proofing, tiling, light fittings, cupboards for storage) the new building extension is now complete. We have moved in and the new accommodation is making a huge difference to our work.

Downstairs we have a spacious children’s room where up to 50 youngsters crowd in for afternoon activities. We particularly wanted wooden flooring because the children are often barefoot and thank Peter Simon for making this possible. Alongside, under the stairway, a nook provides office space for our Director and next to this a pottery is taking shape. We’ve put up the work tables and have installed the kiln and classes will start soon.

Over the stairwell is a joyful print of Madiba, in memory of whose life and legacy our building is dedicated. Upstairs is an elegant reception and general office area, leading to the wonderful room that will house activities for the older youth. It is beautifully carpeted, has wrap-around windows and must hold the best view in Barrydale, down the valley, across the hills to the distant mountains. It is presently providing a base for Interns and the Young Leaders. We have started fitting work-tables and have installed the E-Learning Toolbox donated by CoZaCares through the PETS Foundation, which enables students to download a big range of educational material. We have been assured that the Ministry of Social Development has selected us as a site for the installation of an e-centre which will soon provide 12 computers with printing facilities together with tabling, seating and air conditioning. We look forward to this development with great anticipation. Our intention is to run a homework and research centre in this space and to offer night classes for adults.

Next to this, above the pottery is a music studio and we shall move the Jazz Programme there as soon as we have been able to burglar- proof the building.

As much as we talked about the need for the extension, we initially shrank from embarking on the the project because of the huge cost – we were advised that building in the way we wanted would cost in the region of R600,000 and we had no idea where this would come from. However, inspiration arrived in the form of  Zoē Wicomb’s magnificent donation of R120,000 from her Windham Campbell Literature Prize. This gave us the courage to get going and we went on from there with donations large and small coming in over the months from a range of well-wishers whose names appear below.

We are particularly grateful to Brian Wides and Michael Chanarin who both gave substantially, as did Anne Page, an anonymous donor, and Marion Barton who ran a fundraiser at home in Canterbury which paid for the construction of the staircase. EDSA chairperson Ann Harries and director Judy Brown called on their circle in Britain several times and there were donations in memory of Lyn Alison who had been an enthusiastic member of the initial building committee.

In the end we had to borrow R73,000 from the Net vir Pret general account to finish the project, but it seemed impossible to stop when we were so near completion.It was not all plain sailing however, and we well remember the sombre day in February when Derek called in the builder to tell him that funds had run out and that, although the roof wasn’t on yet, we would have to shut down the site at the end of the week – only to receive an entirely unexpected email a few hours later from the King Baudouin Foundation in Brussels pledging R93,600 – and so the work went on after all.

We are delighted to report that this overspending has been restored by a grant of R50,000 from the DG Murray Trust and  R32,385 from Marina McClure and John Bair, a couple from the US who played a big part in our December parade in 2012, who subsequently married and asked their guests to contribute to Net vir Pret in lieu of wedding gifts.

Ladies from the Renosterbos Committee presented us with beautiful tables and chairs for the Children’s Room, Cedrico Rhode secured a greatly reduced price from Plascon for the exterior paint and the Barrydale Fire Team dropped round to pledge their support and make a donation.

In all, a total of R584,627 was raised. The extraordinary and very heartening fact is that R441,027 of this, a full 75%, came from private individuals and the 25% balance of R143,600 from the Foundation and Trust mentioned above.  To everyone, we offer our deep thanks. With your help we have put in place a permanent structure that will change the lives of children and youths in Barrydale for the better in many years to come.

Donors to the Building Fund

The late Lyn Alison;

the King Baudouin Foundation (BE); the DG Murray Trust; Education for Democracy in South Africa (UK); Zoë Wicomb; Michael & Carmel Chanarin; Brian Wides & family; Anne Page; Marion Barton; Peter Simon; Geoff Budlender; Lynn Hilton; Sharon Dean; the Barrydale Fire Team; Clive Strawbridge; Andrew Whittingdale; Daniel Barton; EA Storey; P Gurney; A Stone; M Wyld; Clive Nel; Joachim Bittkau; Willie van der Berg Enrique Zapata; R Brown; M Whitman; Janet Vaux; Ruth Thackeray; A Ockleford; Tela Zasloff; David & Susan Hall; Cheryl Walker; Oona Xoxo; Tanya Barben; D-Tox Cycling Club; Loraine Cripwell; Shirley Shaw; The Dragon School (UK); The Orchard School (UK); Pierre le Grange; Joyce Minnie; Daniel Southey; Jean du Plessis; Atma; Kim van Lingen; Mitzi & Nils Hugo; Riekie Harm; Chabad de Jaeger; Nigel Hewitt; Heidi Nel; Richard & Heather Glasstone; Dick & Leila Pointer; Leon McLintock; Dennis Riley; Adrianne Blue; Terri Williams; Leslie Howard; John Sacks, Chris & Margie Middleton; Jenny Parsons; Rebecca Spence; Christopher Beer; Rene Weinum and a group of US tourists.

ACTIVITIES

HOLIDAY SCHOOLS

Net vir Pret activities continued during the building period unabated. There were two Holiday Schools, one during the Easter recess, which focused on sport and games because at the last minute the school premises was not available – the Department had sent in a building team to do renovations – and the Holiday School had to move to the township sports field.

However, the event ran successfully, in spite of some rain and 148 attended (89 boys, 59 girls). Luckily the sports field has a small hall and a kitchen and we were able to set up chess and tennis table tournaments.

The second Holiday School ran for the three weeks of the July winter vacation. The first week was held at the BF Oosthuizen School and 153 children attended. They were divided by age into 9 groups and the Net vir Pret staff, assisted by 24 Young Leaders, guided each group through the process of scripting and rehearsing a play on a theme of their own choosing, rehearsing, designing and constructing props and costumes and performing to parents on the evening of the final day.

In the final week 16 young teenagers from the farms (8 boys, 8 girls) were invited to a live-in workshop at the Farmhouse facilitated by volunteers Hazel and Errol Davids-Ruiters and Berenice Hilario .In the second week the Holiday School moved to the Weltevrede Farm School where a similar programme was run with the children perfoming their plays on the final day. 66 children participated and, as ever, Net vir Pret depended on Young Leaders to help with facilitation.

We thank Hazel, Errol and Berenice for their generosity of spirit and extraordinary skill in ministering to the needs of our most vulnerable youth.The event was structured to explore the problems and anxieties typically confronting their age group and it was clear on the Friday afternoon when it was time to close and go home that no-one, neither participants nor facilitators, wanted to and that the week had been a great affirming experience, especially for the farm children who seldom get the opportunity to experience anything outside of their isolated and impoverished world.

THE AFTER-CARE PROGRAMME

The afternoon After-Care programme ran as usual under the supervision of our Youth Development Officer, Donna Kouter who has constructed a carefully crafted day-by-day programme for the year incorporating different developmental elements. The art and craft class has a different theme each week and the children produce a range of beautiful objects which can be taken home as gifts; the reading component,  run with support from the Cape Town Nal’Ibali programme, continues to flourish and indeed apart from the Reading Club at Net vir Pret, there are now 5 others, two on the farms and three run by Young Leaders for children in their street.  On World Read Aloud Day the Reading Clubs gathered in the grounds of the farmhouse to join in and celebrate the event.

THE SPORT PROGRAMME

Angelo and Hermanus Braaf both attended a 2-day training session in Robertson which focused on Golden Games – games for older people and they have been taking these on a weekly basis to the local Ebenhaezer Old People’s Club in our township. Hermanus is on a 9-month placement with Net vir Pret from the Chrysalis Academy – a Dept. of Community Safety project based in Cape Town for young people at risk.  He has proved to be a great asset, eager to learn and be of use and making himself available for whatever might be required. Chrysalis can truly be proud of their product.On March 15 our Sport Co-ordinator,  Angelo Endley ran an all-day Cricket Tournament attended by 6 competing teams, three from Barrydale and three from the farms. Your reporter went up in mid-morning to make sure the event had got off the ground and ended up staying all day such was the spirit of the occasion.

INTERNSHIP PROGRAMME

The seven internships sponsored by the Department of Social Development which commenced in November 2013 were extended to 16 December 2014. Since our last report they have been involved in five main activities.

  1. COMMUNITY WALL NEWSPAPER – under guidance from Dr. Michael Rice of the PETS Foundation, they interviewed local people on their opinion of the April election, wrote up the interviews and published these in the form of a community wall newspaper.

BOOK-MAKING PROJECT – Facilitator Jill Joubert spent a week with the Interns teaching them the techniques involved in designing and stitching together a hand-made book.  Some beautiful work was produced and the Interns used the opportunity to create booklets capturing the fairy tales which had been scripted by children during the Holiday School in January. They also each produced and illustrated personalised alphabet books for children.

ORAL HISTORY PROJECT – with support from Shirley Marx who has considerable expertise in the field, the Interns conducted interviews with eight old people in the Barrydale township and on the surrounding farms. The interviews focused on the early life experiences of the old people and they were also asked to remember tales which their grandparents had told them when young. Much fascinating material emerged and this was written up and edited with the help of Riekie Harm and also of Rina de Villiers of the Barrydale Library and her staff.  Annette Loubser spent a week exploring layout techniques with the group after which they published the eight oral histories in their own hand-made booklets using the skills they had gained from Jill and Annette. A ceremony was held during August to present each interviewee with a copy of their own story –  sadly three had passed away in the interim and relatives came in their stead. Copies were also presented to the Barrydale Library and the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC and a set will go to the Centre for the Book in Cape Town later this month.

  1.  JUNE 16 SPORTS DAY– as an exercise in event management, the Interns assumed responsibility for organising a Sports Day on the public holiday of June 16. This was held at the municipal sports field in the township and a variety of games from rugby to chess were provided for the huge crowd that attended.  The old people of the village were also invited and a special programme was laid on for them. Lunch was provided for all and all arrangements were managed by the Interns, including the gathering of sponsorships for the day.
  1. SKILLIE DIE SKILPAD – as a fifth project during this time, the Interns took over the children’s puppet play developed by Derek and the Staff with production help from Mongi Mthombeni.  Skillie die Skilpad concerns a young tortoise who more than anything wants to learn to fly. The action takes place in and around a pond in a field and apart from Skillie there are also two frogs, a rooster and a hen and a bird. The play is full of humour and carries a lovely moral about being true to yourself and never giving up. The Interns have lifted the production to new levels and have performed at the two schools in Barrydale, four of the surrounding farm schools, the Barrydale Library and the Ebenhaezer Old People’s Club. They entered the piece at the Montagu Makati Festival in August and were awarded a silver medal.

THE JAZZ PROGRAMME

Under the guidance of Gary Crawford, the Jazz Programme grows from strength to strength. There are now two separate bands;   the first has been playing a three-set gig at the Barrydale Hotel on the first Saturday night of the month since March and the second did their first a fortnight ago. A third group is waiting in the wings and a group of girls came to the rehearsal last week, hoping to get the chance to be involved. During May the two groups were privileged to be able to play at the hotel in an event sponsored by Concerts SA with visiting Cape Jazz legend Errol Dyers who had four other musicians with him including the renowned Swedish saxophonist, Anders Poulsen. The visitingmusicians ran a teaching workshop with our youngsters in the afternoon before performing. Concerts SA plan to run similar events later in the year.

Sharon Dean, long-time Net vir Pret friend and supporter who herself works in the music industry in Britain sent out an appeal to her musical contacts for unwanted instruments and tells us that an extraordinary number have been donated. The challenge now is to get them to South Africa and Barrydale.The programme has great promise and the constraints are purely financial; Gary’s time needs to be extended if we are to admit more young people;  the burglar-proofing needs to be in place in the new building so that we can safely transfer the programme from Derek’s home where it is presently operating;  above all we need more instruments. At present there is only one set and our young learners are only able to use them on the two-hour sessions they have with Gary each week. Ideally they should have an instrument they can take home to practise on.

THE ART PROGRAMME

The Art Group under the guidance of Joan Peeters continues to make good progress. Apart from their weekly class, they held a one-week workshop during the winter vacation. The group is working towards an exhibition in December and also on a calendar.

THE PETS PROGRAMME

Sponsored by the Joel Joffe Charitable Trust, work with local teachers though the PETS Programme is going forward with Net vir Pret as the facilitating partner. Under the leadership of Dr. Michael Rice, the programme has attracted the interest and support of both the MEC and the DG of Education in the Western Cape. In essence, PETS is testing the viability of a model of in-service training using Information Communications Technology as the means of communication. In 2013 the programme delivered material on the learning and teaching of fractions at Grade 3 and 4 levels and this year the Number Line and Percentages are being similarly presented.

A total of 17 teachers are participating, drawn from the two local schools (Barrydale High and BF Oosthuizen Primary), three farms schools (Vleiplaas, Weltevrede and Lemoenshoek) and Net vir Pret.  The Understanding Fractions course is the first of its kind in Afrikaans and English, developed for teachers by teachers to address their needs and intended as digital content. Veteran Maths teacher, Mary Debrick, is developing the material and the translation into Afrikaans is being done by Riekie Harm. An interactive website has been created where participants can work through the material and test themselves. Mr. Roy Auret, principal of Barrydale High, has played a leading role in the venture; Jean Rall, principal of Vleiplaas, Helene Fullard, principal of Lemoenshoek have been  enthusiastic participanta and Mr. Gerald Davids, principal of BF Oosthuizen, has brought his staff on board.  The undertaking has generated much excitement and enthusiasm and is clearly having a beneficial effect on teaching and learning in Barrydale.

VISITORS

Zoë Wicomb visited in February with her husband Roger Palmer and was able to see the progress on the building site – the walls were almost up at that point.

Net vir Pret co-founder Ann Harries was here at the same time, spending a week with us and enjoying the fruits of her hard work in setting up the organisation 10 years ago.

Judy Brown, EDSA director spent three weeks with us. A highly experienced youth worker herself, Judy lost no time in throwing herself into our world and set about helping wherever she could, particularly with staff appraisals where she provided important input. Judy was later joined by her husband, EDSA trustee Gary Lock.

Unathi Mtshemela, Veliswa Mangcangaza and Nokhanyo Kani, all youth workers from the Keiskamma Trust in Hamburg, Eastern Cape, spent an enjoyable week with us observing our activities.36 members of the Green Fingers Garden Club from Riversdale visited on 13 August and were entertained to a drumming session by Peter and a performance by our Riel Dancers. The dancers competed in a regional competition in Ladismith in April – and came first! They will go on to the provincial semi-finals in October.

AIDS-Ride SA cyclists, crossing the country from Botswana, spent the night in Barrydale on 8 August. Our drummers and rieldancers welcomed them on arrival and next morning they ran an open fix-your-bicycle workshop workshop at Net vir Pret where they repaired at least 20 local bikes.

STAFF DEVELOPMENTMartje Nooij, co-chair of the Stichting Projecten Zuid Afrika (SPZA) visited on 21 August, accompanied by SPZA president, Riekje de Vries and her husband Martien. SPZA have supported Net vir Pret since the beginning and we were spent a highly enjoyable day showing them the range of our work – a meeting with staff in the morning before setting off for the Lemoenshoek Farm School, lunch with board members, a look-in at the Aftercare programme with a display by the rielsdancers, a performance of Skillie die Skipad by the Interns at Barrydale Library and finally a drop-in at the rehearsal of one of the jazz groups. Also present was Pieter Holloway from the Breede Skills Training Centre in McGregor. We were especially pleased to meet Pieter and hear about his work and we look forward to future co-operation.

  • We are pleased to report that staff members Peter Takelo, Donna Kouter, Angelo Endley and Herman Witbooi have all successfully completed the Diploma in Early Childhood Development (Level 4) through the Boland College in Caledon. Except for Angelo, who hopes access further training in specifically sport education, they are now all registered for Level 5.
  • Herman Witbooi attended a three-day conference in Durban organised by the Rural Education Access Programme (REAP) with whom we have a partnership. The conference focused on access problems faced by youth in rural communities and presented guidelines for REAP’s Early Intervention Programme which aims at identifying possible candidates for tertiary support as early as the Grade 11 year.
  • On 24 May Nal’ibali facilitators Malusi Ntoyaphi and Bulelani Futshane came to conduct an all-day workshop aimed at strengthening our reading clubs. It was attended by our club leaders and also by teachers from three farm schools. Malusi and Bulelani delivered valuable input and the day was a powerful learning experience for all.

FUNDINGAngelo Endley attended a 5-day workshop run by ASSITEJ South Africa  (the International Association for Theatre for Children and Youth) which provided training for facilitators to prepare youth for Handspring’s War Horse production which will come to South Africa later in the year. The production has received the highest acclaim internationally and we look forward to seeing it with great anticipation. The Handspring Trust will sponsor 50 young people from Barrydale who will travel to Cape Town in December to see the show.

It is in the nature of NGO funding that we must often sail close to the wind and this year has been no exception.

We were compelled to borrow to pay salaries at the end of July and prospects for August looked equally bleak. But relief in the form of the funding mentioned above from the DG Murray Trust for the building together with John and Marina’s gift enabled us to restore the funds we had taken from the general account to complete the building and we were able to meet the August accounts – although the debt remains unpaid.

Going forward, we have applied for a renewal of a 3-year grant from the DG Murray Trust and will soon approach the King Baudouin Foundation again. If the outcome is positive for these two appeals our shortfall for the year will be reduced to R120,000.

In the meantime, we express our deep thanks to the DG Murray Trust for their funding over the past 3 years, the Claude Leon Foundation, the Stichting Projecten Zuid Afrika (NL), the Department of Social Development and also to EDSA (UK) for their ongoing support.  Judy Brown of EDSA has gone to enormous trouble for us – to the extent of running garden parties on our behalf and we thank her for her efforts.

We would also like to thank Brendon and Kirsten Flack who have pledged a monthly donation to us during 2014.

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