1. Holiday School
The Spring Holiday School ran for 5 days in the first week of October and was attended by 86 children, 47 girls and 49 boys. The theme for the week was The Web of Life and a residential weekend workshop was held at the farmhouse for the Young Leaders in preparation with expert input on local flora and fauna from volunteers Fran Hunziker and Flora Cameron. At the Holiday School, children were divided into 6 groups by age and 4 Young Leaders were assigned to each.
After breakfast on the first day groups were taken on a guided hike on the Barrydale trail (with a packed lunch) where the Young Leaders (and Fran and Flora) helped them to see and appreciate the wonders around them. In the afernoon they played plant and animal identification and classification card games. The next day was devoted to puppet-making and children constructed a puppet (out of recycled material) of their favourite animal, bird, insect or plant. On the following day groups devised a play with their puppets as characters and the final day was spent in rehearsal and performance. The performances were full of life and humour and the Holiday School ended on a decidedly high note.
2. The Tortoise Who Wanted to Fly
The tortoise puppet show mentioned in our last report was performed for Basil and Adrian of the Handspring Puppet Company who were pleased with it and who offered several on-the-spot insights on how to improve the performance. This encouragement led to a week of presentations at 6 schools, with all 4 staff and the 3 senior Young Leaders playing the different roles (chickens, frogs, birds and the tortoise). The production has evolved into a parable of hope, trust and persistence with many comic interludes. We plan to work on it in the new year and take it to the Out of the Box festival in Cape Town next September.
3. ART GROUP WEEKEND
The teenage art group (12 participants) gathered at the farmhouse on the weekend of the 14/16 December for an intensive session. The programme was led by Young Leader Clarissa Jonas who, under the guidance of local artist Nigel Hewitt, is herself developing into a skilled and talented painter. The group as ever displayed wonderful creativity and flair and one cannot help wondering what they might grow to given the opportunity. They need their own dedicated studio space – which Net vir Pret’s overcrowded house unfortunately cannot offer them. We can only hope that this will become possible if the plans to extend the building come to fruition.
4. BICYCLE REPAIR WORKSHOP
Bob Wolf’s Bicycle Repair workshop is meeting weekly and going strong. Participants are not only fixing their bikes but are also learning to use lathes, drills and other tools and are learning valuable skills. Bob is exploring the possibility of engaging the help and expertise of other crafts people in Barrydale in 2013 so that more youngsters can be accommodated and the range of skills extended.
4. HERITAGE DAY SPORTS EVENT
The Young Leaders planned and ran a sports day on September 24 on their own and without any dependence on staff. The event took place at the township sports field and there were 202 participants. The games on offer included rugby, soccer, cricket and netball and there was also a chess tournament. All games were open to both girls and boys. The Young Leaders catered for the event and served lunch to all.
5. PLANNING FOR THE DECEMBER HOLIDAY
SCHOOL & DEC 16 PARADE
After much thought and discussion, it has been decided to change the format of the December 16th parade to bring it more in keeping with the spirit of the Day of Reconciliation. The theme chosen is Things with Wings and this year there will be two parades; the first, led by a giant peacock, will proceed through the township while the second, led by a giant ostrich, will come up from the hotel in the village. Both giant puppets will be accompanied by their own supporters, drawn from the 130+ children we are expecting for the Holiday School. The two parades will meet at the BF hill that separates the two sections of our divided community. There will be a performance on the netball field involving the puppets but also with contributions from other groups (Dance for All, Moving Arts Project, the Blikkies Band, the SA Police, the Youth Brigade, the Brass Band) and ending with a carol recital by the old people’s choir and the lighting of the Tree constructed by the Magpie Collective. Preparations for this event are already well advanced. Jill Joubert and Pedro Espi Sanchis will come in the first week of December to train staff and Young Leaders on puppet construction – the children will all carry birds ( large and small), bees, flying fish and their puppets will also act as musical instruments. The Holiday School starts the following week and we will be joined by a Handspring team which will include two Fulbright scholars who are professionally engaged in puppetry. One of these, Karen Zasloff, has worked with the Bread and Puppet Company in the States who are famous for distributing aiolo bread to the audience after the show, baked on-site in a make-shift brick oven. Karen s going to guide us and we are planning to do the same.
Two trainers from PASCAP (Partners with After School Care Projects) spent a week (08h00-13h00) training staff and 5 senior Young Leaders as well as three participants from Swellendam. The training presented and discussed different theories of child development and focused on practical implementation. At the end of the week, participants were given assignments to complete before PASCAP returns for a follow-up early in 2013. Part of the work involves drawing up an individual development profile for each child and shaping the programme to respond to the needs which are identified.
In early September Angelo was invited to Bergplaas in Graaf Reneit for a second week of Spirit of the Wild training, this time accompanied by Donna. The training focused on work with children and how to devise and present nature programmes for them. A third training week takes place in late November.
3. FUNDRAISING SEMINAR
Our Dutch donors, Stichting Projecten Zuid Afrika, sponsored a full morning fund-raising seminar for us in early September led by expert Frank Julie. All staff and senior Young Leaders attended. Mr Julie empahsised especially the importance of forward planning and gave an overall view of fundraising strategies.
It is with the greatest pleasure that we are able to report that the King Baudouin Foundation in Belgium has responded positively to our appeal for funding. The Foundation has agreed to provide R80 000 immediately with the possibility of further funding in 2013. This very welcome news goes a long way towards relieving our financial anxieties and we are very grateful for it. Regarding our long ongoing negotiations with the Department of Social Development, there have been three positive developments:
• The DSD invited us to a briefing on how to set about gaining accreditation for our Diversion Programme. We have this year run several residential Diversion weekends for youngsters referred by the courts but we understand that from 2013 referrals will only be done to accredited programmes. The invitation confirmed the DSD’s high regard for our work in this field and we have applied to be admitted to the process.
• A fortnight ago our 4 staff members and 5 of the senior Young Leaders were invited to the Boland College in Caledon where they wrote assessment tests for possible part-time training provided by the DSD. Details of such training are still to be provided.
* Following on this, we were invited in the past week to a DSD-sponsored forum in Swellendam for Early Childhood Development (i.e. cr÷che) providers. Our facility is classified as After School Care rather than ECD but we were informed that we will nevertheless be included under the ECD umbrella. Furthermore, the DSD official present assured that there is every likelihood that DSD funding will be made available to us soon. So our hopes for DSD support are being revived after all this time!