The Zoe Sarojini Education Trust gives children living in poverty in South Africa the chance to a brighter future. We now support 35 children split between Cape Town and Ingwavuma, a small rural village on the boarder of Swaziland. Our aim is to support children’s educational and holistic needs so they can reach and exceed their potential, opening up a world of opportunities for the future.
2014 has been another wonderful year for the Trust. We have welcomed three new children into the family, watched our first child graduate from University and enter the working world as a teacher, overseen the completion of the new Ekukhayeni Orphanage, renovated and launched our new website (www.wordpress-455395-2711966.cloudwaysapps.com), and created the new University fund. We have welcomed a number of new sponsors into our family, including our first school, Retford Oaks Academy, and a new mentor, Jennifer, who is now working alongside Alison with our younger children in Cape Town. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome you all.
Thanks to fundraising events by the University of Bath Triathlon Club and Palmer Park Velo along with regular and one off donations, the Enrichment fund remained healthy throughout 2014. This has enabled us to buy laptops and learning programs for both Ekukhayeni and Khethani homework clubs, the Coetzee house and Zonki’zizwe church where children from the local community go to study. This initiative came after we carried out a review of the Trust in 2013 and discovered that a number of our children were reaching tertiary education with good grades and English. However they were unable to use a computer. This made writing and submitting assignments, taking lecture notes and accessing online information hard. Therefore we are delighted that we are now able to provide our children with the opportunity to develop these valuable computer skills. The fund has also paid for our children to go on school trips with one child commenting, after a history outing:
“I write this letter to thank you for paying for me for the senior class adventure. I really enjoyed it. I had great fun and I got some history. We climbed the hill of Isandlwana where the Zulu army beat the British soldiers. We learnt about the Zulu army using the horns of the buffalo formation in this battle. It was very exciting to imagine this battle happening in 1879.”
Textbooks for Khethani School
At the end of 2014 the Enrichment Fund helped us to pay for textbooks for all of our children. This was an important investment as Khethani moves away from an individualised learning system and onto the South African national curriculum. Alongside these new projects we have continued to support the Ekukhayeni and Khethani homework clubs that are growing from strength to strength as well as the Khethani teacher fund. We recently received a thank you letter from the school in which Andrew Swift the principal wrote:
“It was really good to have a qualified teacher in the grade 4/5 class and it was made possible through the funds that you released to us – we really appreciate it. Thanks so much!”
2014 also saw the completion of the Ekukhayeni Orphanage re-location project that we started over three years ago. The girls moved into the Zoe House at the end of 2013. This year the final two houses were completed and furnished, and in December 2014 the boys moved into their new home. The children are delighted and extremely excited to be back with their family in their new home. Page
The 2014 feedback forms are here
Over the past four years December and January have become, by far, my favourite months and not just because of Christmas. During these months, every day I wake up to a new feedback form detailing the successes and challenges of our children. It is an exciting time and overall our children have had a successful year. I hope by now you have all received an email from me with your child or families feedback form for 2014. If not please let me know.
The year has been rich in encouraging reports about the children from their teachers, such as this one from a teacher in Cape Town.
“She is an enthusiastic learner and has made progress at school. She is a hard-working and determined girl and continues to give her best. She is making progress with her reading and enjoys Mathematics. She is a delightful young girl who is becoming more confident. She is always willing to help where she can.”
Whilst our mentor in Ingwavuma wrote:
“Lindelwa had a wonderful first year at Khethani in 2014. She attended school enthusiastically and has done really well. She is very confident in English now and has a wonderful curiosity and interest in life.”
It is especially pleasing to read about children’s growing confidence in themselves:
“Nontobeko has had a good 2014. She has grown so much in confidence since she first came to Khethani – when she was a withdrawn and depressed little girl. It is wonderful to see her so full of fun and enjoying friendships with other children now.”
Welcome to Mazandi and Retford Oaks Academy
At the end of 2014 we welcomed a new little girl to the family, Mazandi. She is being sponsored by Clumber House at Retford Oaks Academy (UK). This is an exciting time for the Trust as we embark on a new journey with both this little girl and the school. The school have already started fundraising and recently sent Christmas cards to Mazandi which as you can see she loved. Our mentor writes of Mazandi:
“Mazandi continues to love books and during December holidays she borrowed a pile of books from the Zisize library. She is extremely excited to be at Khethani this year.”
Welcome back Charlene
2014 has also seen us welcome back a familiar face into the Trust. Charlene was forced away to Zimbabwe due to family pressures. However we are delighted that we have been able to welcome her back this year in Cape Town and she is doing well.
“Charlene is extremely enthusiastic about being at school and races into the classroom every morning bubbling with energy and joy about the day ahead. Her determination to give her best at school is so heart-warming.”
Holistic support pays off
Reading though the reports this year, one thing has stood out: the importance of the all-round support that we provide our children. This year, more than ever, the combined effect of the enrichment fund, the orphanage fund, and the communication from our sponsors is apparent. Through the attention to detail we are able to provide our children with the love and support they need not just to do well at school but to thrive. Our children are developing into kind, successful and determined individuals and this is clear to see from their reports.
The challenges of rural South Africa
Each year does bring with it the problems of working in rural South Africa. This year we have struggled to communicate with one of our families, two sisters who are at a college, in a town away from their home. We have now created a new University contract which sets out clear expectations for all our young people being supported through University which we hope will benefit all involved. The feedback forms also highlight the hardship that some of our children face every day with alcoholic and abusive parents. Again we are working closely with our mentors to make sure that we can do as much as possible to support and help these children. A mentor writes about one child:
“He has had another disruptive year in his home life…He is a resilient little boy and has also managed to cope well with his school work. He attends the [Zoe Trust] homework club three times a week which is a lifesaver for him.”
Our families on the path to independence
Alongside our individual children we have continued to support four child-headed families this year. 2014 has been a good year for these families and we have seen two more leave the trust.
It is always sad to say goodbye to members of our family but we are delighted to know that both these families have a bright future ahead. You may remember reading about Dennis Ntimbane last year: in 2013 he graduated from University with a degree in teaching and in 2014 he secured his first position at a school in Ingwavuma. We are delighted that he has decided to go home to teach and thrilled that he is relishing the opportunity to give back to the community what we were lucky enough to give him. He is a great asset to the trust and we look forward to watching him progress over the coming years.
The second family was introduced to me about 13 years ago when Lindo was a young boy living with his granny. Lindo has had a tough journey over the years but we are very proud that he is now studying at Umfolozi FET college and doing well. Zisize have a special pot of money for Umfolozi FET college students and so his sponsorship will be taken over by them. We wish both of these families the best of luck in the future.
Nkosinathi learns to walk
Fantastic progress has been made by so many of our children, but one feedback form in particular had me in tears! Last year we took a risk, welcoming a young boy with Cerebral Palsy into the Trust. We were unsure how he would cope academically and with the pressure of being in school. However his determination and courage have shone throughout 2014. Not only has he completed grade R, made some great friendships but he has pushed himself harder than we could ever have imagined and learnt to walk unaided. This video is incredible to watch : http://on.fb.me/1BhEOYK.
And into 2015
2015 is set to be another successful year for the Trust, as our children and projects continue to develop. We look forward to working with our mentors to give our children the best possible chance at a brighter future.
We thank you for your continued support and generosity.
With best wishes,
Emily, and all the trustees of The Zoe Sarojini Education Trust.