In addition to running the Mathsbuddy programme and the Computer Training for Teachers at No-ofisi Primary, our energetic volunteers have also initiated extramural sport activities at Xhora Mouth Senior Primary. Sport activities include soccer, netball, handball, volleyball, burning ball (similar to softball) and athletics for both the little children and older learners. Swimming lessons are being planned.
Having spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the best computer programme for access to the Mathematics School Curriculum from Grade 1 to 12, we decided on Mathsbuddy www.mathsbuddy.co.za. This interactive online programme supplements the mathematics classroom work, assisting teachers and keeping learners interested and entertained while they are learning. (see previous blog 11/02/2014).
Once we raised the resources for the necessary hardware, fixed some old laptops (see our volunteers Jan and Leon below hard at work cannibalising the working parts of secondhand laptops and making whole working laptops systems!), and sorted out all the logistics: storage, satellite internet, classroom timetables etc. we were then ready to enter the second phase of the pilot for this programme. (The first phase was to test it on the learners in our after-school programme, which was very successful).
We are now working closely with the teachers of No-ofisi primary school and the learners in Grades 1 & 2 and are recording the progress of the children. Once all is running smoothly, we will look to rolling out the programme to the other schools in the area.
One of our long standing funders very generously covered the costs of a professional film crew to come out all the way to the Bulungula Incubator to make this informational video about our work and hopefully help us raise some funds in the process.
Have a look…you may be inspired to go straight to the DONATE page :)
Wow! this is all so very overwhelming! After a nail-biting few months while the judges considered our work alongside 4 other amazing projects from around the globe, we got the call from Anne Welsh McNulty :) While we have always been very proud of our work, it is rather lovely to have a pat on the back now and then and what a big one this is … from the McNulty Prize jury: “One thing the McNulty Prize looks for are imaginative solutions to pressing problems that can be replicated elsewhere. Many terrific projects approach a single issue across a broad field, but the Bulungula Incubator’s mission is comprehensive,” said former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a member of the McNulty Prize jury. “By finding a way to enact lasting change in this region, the BI is a beacon for rural communities struggling with similar issues. Most importantly, these communities have ownership over the improvements they make, creating a virtuous cycle of civic involvement and improvement of quality of life.”
Our new spades caused a flurry of activity in the sandpit. Children discovered they were useful for heaping, patting, smoothing, digging tunnels and making roads. In a small space, six children worked co-cooperatively on one project.
Problem solving was needed to complete the design for a tunnel entrance. The rock was not stable so it was planted more firmly in the sand. Then it was in the wrong position to be able to make a bridge with a twig. So the correct distance was estimated. Plastering sand around the twigs was also a challenge that was successfully managed. This is active learning.
Our latest annual report, covering the 2012-2013 period is ready – hot off the press! It is our fourth annual report and includes an update on all our projects and audited financial statements for the period. You can download an electronic copy here: Download Annual Report 2012 – 2013 or if you would like a hardcopy please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address and we’ll pop it in the post for you.
Jujurha Preschool, the first Early Childhood Development (ECD) project of the Bulungula Incubator, was awarded the first prize in the ABSA and Department of Social Development Awards for the Eastern Cape on 19th November 2013.
Jujurha Preschool won the Eastern Cape Best ECD Centre Category. The school principal, one member of the Parents’ Committee and the Education Programme Manager attended. The event was also attended by representatives from the Department of Education, Department of Social Development, NDA, the South African ECD Congress, ABSA Bank, ITEC and the Buffalo City Mayor’s office. We received a warm welcome from the Mayor’s office and all other representatives made very encouraging and informative presentations about ECD.
The five finalists were preschools from King Williamstown, Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth, East London and Elliotdale. The winners were announced from 3rd to 1st prize. The atmosphere at the event was jovial and all the winners were applauded. When Jujurha Preschool was called as the 1st prize winner, the whole room stood up, sang songs and ululated as we went to the podium to receive the prize.
In a very short time all the different ECD Centres were celebrating the winner and shouting, “Represent the Eastern Cape at the National ECD Awards!”. We became one team preparing for the National ECD Awards to be held in Johannesburg next year where Jujurha will represent the Eastern Cape.
We were entertained by young girls from the neighbouring school doing traditional dances and songs and also a young lady from Mdantsane, playing a guitar. Afterwards we were served a delicious lunch.
The Social Worker who visited the Centre for verification was amazed at how well-resourced and well-run it is and said, “No one would expect to see this excellence at a centre in such a remote area. I feel my long drive on a bad gravel road was worthwhile.”
We are encouraged by this award that shows that we continue to provide excellent ECD services amidst tough conditions in a remote and under-resourced area. We will strive to maintain these standards in all four of our preschools and with our newly launched ECD@Home programme. Education from the earliest stage has now been recognised as the strongest indicator of success in one’s future years.
Books get very well used at Jujurha Preschool. Our children love stories and were delighted when the author Matthew Khalil visited us and read his new book “Helga’s Big Splash”. The were intrigued that he read and their teacher translated what he said.
Book Dash donated us 60 picture stories in isiXhosa about Miriam Makeba. The children were terribly sad at the picture of a little Miriam, crying and going to jail but happy at the other events in her life when she came back to her friends and family in South Africa. Soon we will be singing and dancing to her music (when we can go shopping in the big city – Mthatha).
Jan and Leon from Germany are at the end of their one year tenure. They have made a major contribution to BI. We have often called on their computer expertise (that young people that age seem to have!) and they have managed to get us out of some sticky fixes. Being so remote BI appreciates any help that is on hand.
A big achievement was sorting out the logistics of setting up the Maths Buddies programme in the local Primary School (No-ofisi). The challenge was electricity, space, time, internet… and having to haul the computers out of storage each session and set up the electricity, log on… And they have managed very well.
They also have been running physical training from Monday to Thursday at Xhora Mouth Primary School. They introduced Hand Ball which is popular in Germany, and took a team to Coffee Bay to compete with primary schools there.
Leon and Jan will be followed by two new volunteers, Paul and Moritz also from Germany.
Thabang’s hard work and knowledge in the garden, aided by fertile soil and a moist climate, produces abundant crops of spinach, carrots, lettuce, onions, pumpkins and beetroot. He has had success with growing seedlings from seeds which are now being planted in the garden at the Skills Development Center.
An organisation-changing development at BI is our new storeroom. An old wooden structure has been replaced with a 3-room brick building from which we will also be able to harvest water.
Having storage space for the Health project, Jujurha Preschool and for Maintenance will make our planning, preparation and implementation of projects so much more efficient.
Clearing out the old storeroom, we found some ‘new’ old toys that have been in great demand – two skate boards and a broken toy wheelbarrow.
So… The building site made our small circle of scooter track unusable – much to the delight of the children. No more traffic jams behind slow children. Now they rocket 50m down the hill next to the school at a cracking pace. Scooting at Jujurha will never be the same!
Our Nomakhayas, (home based carers) and two preschool assistants have received two lots of 3 days training to help them to set up Play Points in the villages. The training was facilitated by Carolyn Reid who runs the Mazenza Project in Alexandra Township and who has also has set up play groups in Cosmo City in Gauteng.
On the course they made 3 different toys each session (above) so ended the course with 18 different toys and pieces of equipment such as a flannel board. The most popular toys with the adults was the push toy made of two 2 litre bottles, a wire hanger and a stick.
Our Nomakhayas know the families they visit well as they work with them around health and social issues. They themselves come from the villages that they serve. Seven different play sessions are held in the four villages once a week. Parents are required to attend with their babies and toddlers. Toys and activities are taken to the play points, along with books.
Building a team can be rocked by staff changes and BI has had some major changes this year. The testimony to the team is the stability that has remained in spite of the changes.
Rejane Woodroffe, Director, is on an 18 month sabbatical break and is having adventures with her husband Dave, backpacking around, China, Tajikistan, Mongolia, staying with locals in Yurts in the desert, climbing formidable mountains, and gleaning experiences and knowledge that we hope to benefit from when they return. Part of being away from BI is to test the systems to see if any cracks appear in the organisation. So far so good!
Sue Rosie is Acting Director and has adapted well to the remote village life and the dynamics of the organisation.
Peter Nywiri, our Human Resources Manager andso much more has returned to his family in Zimbabwe after five years away. We are so thankful for the role model and mentor that Peter was to many people in the organisation. He has left a legacy of values to strive for.
Pat Kelly – A Strong Team Member (April)
To fill the gap left by Peter Nywiri could be a real challenge in such a remote area. However Pat Kelly, retired from many years at the SABC, was pottering around Fish Hoek when he received the call. On his fridge was a quote from James Hollis. “In the end, having an interesting life, a life that disturbs complacency, a life that pulls us out of the comfortable and thereby demands a larger spiritual engagement than we planned or that feels comfortable, is what matters most.” Well, he couldn’t turn down the opportunity and rises daily to the challenges of this remote but dynamic organisation with his many skills.
Sis Lindi is back!
Lindiwe Tukane has returned to the organisation as Manager of Educational Programmes. She was welcomed back with warmth by the community and in a few weeks has run two successful Team Building workshops.