THE DAY OF RECONCILIATION PARADE
The December Holiday School and the Day of Reconciliation Parade mark the culmination of the year for Net vir Pret, involving not only the children and youth who have been with us throughout the year but also bringing in the participation of many local groups. The2013 parade marked the fourth year of support from the Handspring Puppet Company in terms of funding for the event, training and expertise. We were also honoured to have the presence of Mongi Mthombeni, artist in residence at the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape, who acted as overall director. Handspring had also secured funding from the Blumberg Family Foundation in Toronto.
DOWNLOAD ORIGINAL REPORT (reportDec-Feb2014)
It had been agreed that theme for the 2013 Parade would involve bringing the sea back to the Karoo and a story gradually unfolded in which a baby elephant slipped at the waterhole, but was saved from certain death by drowning by a mermaid who had been trapped there when the seas receded aeons ago.
The elephant parents were so grateful they gave the mermaid one wish and she asked to be able to return to the sea. A conch was sounded and Neptune (accompanied by his glamorous wife, Isabella) arrived, bringing the waves and sea creatures with him to rescue his daughter.
Preparations began as early as September when Handspring’s Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones and Mongi joined the Net vir Pret staff and Young Leaders for a Saturday workshop at the farmhouse to brainstorm the story.
Serious work got underway in November when staff and the seven Interns (see below) travelled to Cape Town for a week at the Handspring workshop, where they were given the opportunity of working alongside the Handspring team, designing and beginning construction of the giant elephant puppets, the mermaid and Isabella.
The following week saw the arrival of Jill Joubert to run a training week with staff, Interns and Young Leaders who would work with the 150 children and youth we expected to join us the week after.
Jill is an old friend and, under the sponsorship of the Handspring Trust, has worked with us on the parade for four years now. She has established a wonderful rapport with the Young Leaders and this is clear in the affection they hold for her and in the quality of the work that is produced. She had prepared designs for small puppets which would be made by the children (jelly fish, kite fish, small mermaids, bokkies ) and she then set about training the large team (7 interns, 4 staff, 21 young leaders) in constructing them.
In her report on the workshop Jill says “I was thrilled to see during the parade that the young leaders had conveyed all they had learned to the children in the week they had with them. The construction and design of the puppets made by the children was of a very high standard. Peter says, if you show energy as a young leader, it’ll be infectious and the children will echo that energy in their own participation and work. This clearly happened and is a huge achievement for the Young Leaders of Net vir Pret.”
The Handspring team arrived from Cape Town in the same week and while Jill was running her training at the farmhouse, the Handspring team set up their workshop in the Karoolkie Kelder, a cool and commodious space kindly offered by the Gerald Phillips. There they continued construction of the giant puppets and some of the interns were delegated to assist them.
In the midst of these preparations, Nelson Mandela passed away. We gathered the next morning to mourn his passing. The parade was planned for 15 December, the day of the funeral in Qunu. It was agreed that our event would be held to honour his memory and both sections of the parade were accordingly led by giant banners carrying his image. 145 children and youth registered and, under the guidance of Young Leaders and Interns, they spent the week making the smaller puppets and practising songs and dances for the performance. Scott from the Magpie Collective joined us to construct wonderful jewel-encrusted fabrics which were to serve as waves.
During all this time, Net vir Pret’s new jazz group, The Jazz Monkeys and their teacher, were rehearsing , writing lyrics and composing songs for the performance.
The Parade started in the late afternoon with a giant elephant coming through the village and another through the township, each drawing crowds which met at the BF Oosthuizen Primary School on the hill between the two localities where the performance took place. The giant elephants and their gambolling baby made their appearance to the delight of the huge crowd which had assembled. The Sarafina Dancers, the Young Crusaders Brass Band, the Vleiplaas Spiritual Dancers, the Gifted Ones choir all took part and the performance, under Mongi’s
spirited and excellent direction, ended on a high note.
DECEMBER HOLIDAY SCHOOL WEEKS 2 & 3
In the week after the parade, staff took the Holiday School to Vleiplaas, one of the neighbouring farms. 65 children attended, making puppets and developing stories around them which were performed on the final day.
After a Christmas and New Year break, the Holiday School resumed for a final week when 16 teenagers from the surrounding farms (9 girls, 7 boys) were invited to spend the week at Net vir Pret’s farmhouse.
Dividing into 3 groups, each was asked to choose a children’s story, create their own version of it, script and rehearse it, construct masks and props, and then to perform on the final day.
The groups chose three traditional tales, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Three Little Pigs. They came up with highly inventive, entertaining and often hilarious material. Magpie’s Shane and Scott adjudicated. The groups were managed by the Interns who later edited the scripts with the help of Barrydale librarian Rina de Villiers and Riekie Harm, translator for the PETS teaching and learning material. The Interns have collected the stories in booklets which are available for other groups to perform.
The three farm children groups pose for the camera
THE CHRSITMAS TOY RIDE
On 24 December no fewer than three Father Christmases accompanied by a bakkie full of toys set off for the farms surrounding Barrydale.
Half of the 150 toys came from Louise Pharo and family and the rest from the residents of Barrydale.
Seven farms were visited in all and 150 indigent children were given presents, much to their delight.
THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAMME
A second meeting with David Abrahams, Head of Ministry for Social Development, Basil and Adrian from Handspring and Prof. Premesh Lalu, Director of the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC in attendance, resulted in the creation of ten 6-month internships, seven placed at Net vir Pret and three in Masipumelelo in Noordhoek.
The Interns receive a daily stipend from the Department. The objective is skills transfer in two fields:
- puppet construction and performance
recording of oral histories
As mentioned above, as part of their puppetry training the Interns have been privileged to work with the world-renowned Handspring Company both in Cape Town and in Barrydale and also with Jill Joubert. In Cape Town Mongi worked with the group to redesign and strengthen Net vir Pret’s children’s puppet play about the tortoise who wanted to fly and this was performed at the UNIMA festival in Gugulethu in October. Negotiations are underway to take the play to the Zabalaza Festival later this year.
In the second component of their training, Dr. Michael Rice (chair of the PETS Foundation and well-known to readers of these reports as the person heading the work we are doing in teacher development) came to run a three-day workshop with them which saw them interviewing personalities in Barrydale, writing up the interviews, editing, arranging layout and finally publishing them in a community wall newspaper in the village. Their work on story-telling and story capture in the final week of the holiday school is described above.
They have interviewed people for a publication to mark Net vir Pret’s tenth year and are presently engaged on a project to record oral histories as related by old people on the local farms. Shirley Marx, who herself has done considerable work in the field, has come forward to help.
THE JAZZ MONKEYS
In October we were approached by music teacher Gary Crawford who had relocated from Cape Town to the nearby village of Suurbraak. Gary brought instruments and amps with him and soon gathered a group of excited teenagers, meeting twice a week. They made such astonishing progress that within a few weeks they were playing Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ebrahim and were already composing their own songs for the coming Reconciliation Parade.
The problem was to find instruments for them and miraculously a large group of cyclists from Action for Charity in the UK who were on a sponsored tour to support the Urology Foundation visited our project. Our blikkies band and riel dancers entertained them, they passed the hat around and then handed across a packet which contained a very generous R9 650. We decided to spend it all on instruments and immediately acquired a drum kit and a lead guitar; a keyboard and bass guitar following later.
The Jazz Monkeys meet Gary twice a week and have just been commissioned to play at the Barrydale Karoo Hotel on the first Saturday of the month. Their music held the December performance together. Gary has started teaching them to read music and they will write Royal College Grade 1, 2 and 3 theory examinations before the end of the year.
There are several teenagers waiting in the wings and we are also keen to make the music programme accessible to the younger children.
Most readers will have heard the distressing news that our builder Andrew Whittingdale disappeared in the first week of January under mysterious circumstances and has not been heard of since. Andrew was an enthusiastic supporter of Net vir Pret and was offering his services without charge, also donating most of the window frames we need. His team has carried on the work, however, and we have been fortunate in securing the services of painter and sculptor Nigel Hewitt, who is himself an experienced and accomplished builder. The work has progressed by leaps and bounds since Nigel’s arrival; the excavation completed, the foundations dug and filled, the flooring slab cast and work has now started on the walls.
The double storey extension is going to extend the scope of our work
immeasurably and bring new and exciting possibilities to our children and youth. Many people have come forward to make this possible. First among them is winner of the prestigious Windham Campbell Literature Prize, Zoë Wicomb who gave us the initial boost which set the development in motion. Zoë will visit us from her home in Glasgow in February.
The following contributions in cash and kind have been received to date.
BUILDING FUND: 01.11.13 – 31.01.14
Donations R’s Gifts of Cement
|Zoë Wicomb (UK)||
|Mitzi & Nils Hugo||
|Chabad de Jaeger||
|Tourists Jam Tarts||
|Richard & Heather Glasstone||
|Leon McLintock & Dennis Riley||
|David & Susan Hall||
|Anon (in memory of Nelson Mandela)||
|In memory of Lyn Alison||
|Tela Zasloff (US)||
|Brian Wides & family (UK)||
Readers may remember that at this time last year we launched an appeal for funding for Herschelle Swart, a Barrydale matriculant who had been offered a place at the South Cape College for Further Education in Oudtshoorn. Thanks to your generosity we were not only able to fund Herschelle fully for the year but also to assist his fellow student Clarence Moses with initial registration costs. We are delighted to report that both young men passed all their modules (Clarence with 2 distinctions) and are now registered at the University of the Free State for the second year, B Admin. Their costs are now being met by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
We were able to assist 7 of the 2013 matriculants into tertiary study this year. This involved not only countless phone calls, emails, faxes, appeals and trips to Paarl and Cape Town but also financial assistance. Although in theory NSFAS support is available to indigent students even for initial registration, in practice we found that students were required to pay their own steep registration fee (R3 900 at CPUT for instance) and hostel deposit. None of the 7 were able to do so and would not have been able to register without assistance.
Fortunately we were able to find support; a donation of R17 000 from Anne Page was put to the Bursary Fund, as was R25 000 from a R50 000 donation by an anonymous donor.
Details of the 7 are provided below. All 7 were Net vir Pret Young Leaders.
|Lorenzo Alexander||Boland College||National Diploma Hospitality|
|Callen-Lee Windvogel||Boland College||National Diploma Management|
|Ashwill Malan||Boland College||National Diploma Hospitality|
|Vanessa van Rooi||CPUT* (Hotel School)||B Tech Catering & Hospitality|
|Rowan Snyman||CPUT*||B Tech Management|
|Fiogen Joubert||CPUT*||B Tech Tourism Management|
|Deslin Pekeur||West Coast College||National Diploma Office Practice|
* Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Other Net vir pret Young Leaders from previous years include Franco Afrika who passed his first year at UWC (BA Education), Zanwill Pokwas (BA Tourism), also at UWC, now in third year, as are Cecil Levendal (BCom) and Marisca Marais (BEd). Ricarlo Herdien from Vleiplaas is registered for a Diploma in Management at Boland College. Grace Nel is doing the second year in the Diploma for Community Safety and Security at South Cape College in Oudtshoorn.
Work has already started with the 2014 matric class and four have been admitted to the REAP (Rural Education Access Programme) early selection scheme for possible support in 2015.
BURSARY FUND: 01.10.13-31.01.14
|Anne Page (UK)||
The Kula Walaika Foundation outside Wilderness on the south Cape coast runs a three-year residential training programme for unemployed, out-of-school youth, designed to equip them with skills which will make them employable or self-sufficient. The programme starts with a one-month survival bush camp; participants who get through that are invited to join the course.
The foundation is about to start a new cycle and director Watson Nyembe offered Net vir Pret the opportunity to fill 5 places from Barrydale. We selected 5 young men from the 12 who applied (Gerald Swanepoel, JanPeter Ewerts, Charles Davids, Herchell Phillips and Virgille Michaels) and they are presently on the survival camp. Derek and Ann Harries, co-founder of Net vir Pret with Peter Takelo, who was visiting from Britain, dropped in to see how they were doing and found them happy and hard at work clearing a site for planting. The course will offer options for training in cabinet making, fabric design and printing, animal husbandry and vegetable production.
THE PETS PILOT PROJECT
The PETS In-Service Teacher Education and Professional Development Pilot Project concluded the year with a meeting of all participants in December.
The pilot is testing the effectiveness of distance in-service training by means of information communication technology. There are 17 participants, drawn from both the Primary and High schools in Barrydale, the Weltevrede, Lemoenshoek and Vleiplaas Farm Schools, and the Net vir Pret staff. The project is the brain-child of Dr Michael Rice, chair of the PETS Foundation. Net vir Pret is the facilitating partner.
To quote Michael, “Literacy and numeracy levels, the bedrock of our education system, are, by common consent, disastrous. Every year hundreds of thousands of youngsters leave the system to all intents and purposes illiterate and innumerate with little prospect of employment. The impact on South Africa’s capacity to compete globally is undermined at its very foundations.” He goes on to cite research that revealed that only 32% of Grade 6 maths teachers in the country had “desirable subject knowledge” and agrees with the researcher that this situation can be attributed to “ineffective in-service training”.
The project has two components; a numeracy component which in 2013 aimed to improve teachers’ content knowledge and teaching skills in fractions and a literacy component run in conjunction with the PRAESA Nal’ibali programme which aims to develop literacy though story-telling and reading clubs.
An inter-active website (www.trainingteacher.org.za) loaded with all the relevant Nal’ibali and PETS learning material and with access to other support sites, was launched in August. The participants have received a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet, and an Elonex e-reader loaded with Nal’ibali material.
In 2014 the numeracy component will go forward with work on decimals and percentages.
The CozaCares Foundation has donated an E-learning Toolbox kiosk where teachers and learners can download a range of learning and teaching support materials, including educational videos, past examination papers and marking memoranda and Wikipedia. The kiosk will be housed at Barrydale High School and a team of Young Leaders is being trained to supervise its use.
Noëlle and Kevin Ablitt, cycling from George to Cape Town to raise support for the Bicycling Empowerment Network South Africa. Stopped by to visit in November. They have now offered to donate a substantial number of bicycles to us so that we can start our own cycling club. Our need now is for a container which could house 50 bicycles and also provide space for a repair workshop area.
Two of our young artists, Benjamin Joubert and Joseph Faro, exhibited their work with their teacher Joan Peeters in Barrydale in December.
In our last report we mentioned that we would run into serious financial difficulties in October if support did not come in. It is with great relief and gratitude that we can report a decided improvement in our situation.
First, Bill Frankel, chair of the Claude Leon Foundation, wrote to express his concern and then awarded R100 000, thereby doubling the Foundation’s grant for the year. In November our founding donor, Education for Democracy in South Africa (EDSA) sent a substantial amount and in January the Belgian King Baudouin Foundation responded to our appeal by renewing their 2012 funding.
Local residents Brendan and Kirsten Flack have undertaken to contribute a monthly amount during 2014 and Swellendam High School gave us R600 in appreciation of a drumming workshop Peter had run with their teaching staff.
The D-Tox Motor Cycle Club not only donated R4 000 but also took their bikes up to the township and gave the Net vir Pret youngsters the ride of their lives.
We are also pleased to report that after lengthy negotiations the Department of Social Development has finally agreed to support our Aftercare programme and the first tranche of their support of R4 950 per month arrived in December.
Table 3 provides details.
Income 01.10.13-31.01.14 R’s
|Claude Leon Foundation||
|King Baudouin Foundation (BE)||
|Education for Democracy in South Africa (UK)||
|Dept Social Development||