The saying "it takes a village" comes to life when volunteers put their unique skill sets to work to increase and improve our impact in Mabopane.
This past weekend, a group of 5 students from the University of Pretoria's JCP Module volunteered in our computer lab, improving infrastructure and software systems - a long-awaited project disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown restrictions.
Their handiwork came just in time for us to reopen several of our free skills training courses for community members. Computer Skills is by far our most popular course, and, being a highly desired skill in the workplace, has enabled numerous learners to secure employment in various fields.
Our computer lab now has a total of 26 working computers, including updated operating systems and Microsoft Office suites. Our projector has been erected on the ceiling for the facilitator to utilise during classroom sessions. All wiring and cabling in the room has been neatly taped in place and organised to eliminate the risk of people tripping over them or damage to the hardware. Our 3 admin office computers, which we welcome community members to use to work on their CVs, typing skills and MS Office skills, have also been updated.
We thank Janco, Adriaan, Eugene, Rohan and Vian for their commitment to this project, despite several hiccups caused along the way, and for taking our hands in creating a beacon of hope for residents of Mabopane. You have made a huge impact in hundreds of learners' lives to come, helping us to provide them with not only a quality education but excellent facilities in which to do so! For many students, their time in our classroom is their first experience with a computer.
A special thanks also to Martina Jordaan, Gernia van Niekerk and Eugene Machimana from the JCP Module at University of Pretoria. The JCP Module, which connects nearly 2000 skilled students to over 400 organisations every year, requires students to conduct a community service-related project for their chosen section of society. It encourages students to step out of their own social background and develop an awareness of personal, social and cultural values, as well as multidisciplinary and life skills, such as communication, interpersonal and leadership skills. Thank you for a longstanding partnership, University of Pretoria!
Lesedi la Batho was very fortunate to celebrate Mandela Day 2020 (Saturday 18 July) in Mabopane this year, amidst the chaos and perpetual need. As a non-profit organisation, we strive to empower vulnerable women who have survived rape, abuse and trauma to rediscover their self-worth and become more independent. We offer free skills training and job placement assistance, support groups and counselling, referrals to supporting institutions and emergency relief such as food parcels and clothing donations.
During South Africa's strict lockdown, many already poverty-stricken families who are now unable to work at all have been launched into even more dire circumstances. Families are in close confines, with added stress, experiencing alcohol and cigarette bans, and emergency services are totally over-capacitated - the perfect storm for what our President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa has called "a second pandemic"; one of dramatically increased gender-based violence cases during lockdown. Women in vulnerable situations need us now more than ever!
Tata Madiba dedicated 67 years of his life to the fight for a better, more equal South Africa - so this Mandela Day, we had a dream to provide 67 women with Care Packs, offering comfort and a reminder they are not alone. Thanks to the support of new and long-standing partners, we were able to serve 78 women!
Our team hosted a special event on Saturday at our community centre in Mabopane, or rather - three events, staggering the attendees in smaller groups of 20-30 people to ensure social distancing at all times. Attendees included teen moms, survivors of gender-based violence and commercial sex workers. The ladies were welcomed with a cup of hot soup in the morning (South Africa's winter is a nasty one this year!), then enjoyed an information and motivation session with guest speakers from the Victim Empowerment Program (VEP) and contributing foundations. A special thanks to Magdeline Mosime from the Makhwiti Foundation and Neo Yolaine Pearce from the NYP Foundation, who not only shared the day with us but contributed towards the Comfort Packs and provided refreshments!
Each woman received a Comfort Pack, including a beautiful handmade shweshwe bag, L'Oreal cosmetics, hygiene products, pads and a face mask.
A special thanks to L'Oreal for donating nail polish and lip glosses to our special women (what a treat!) and Juanette Johnson from the CSIR for donating an overflow of conference bags she ordered from our fair-trade project, Kago-Entle in 2018!
We also handed out material donations - each lady could choose clothes for them and their children.
Congratulations to Katherine Leonard from New Jersey, USA for winning the GivenGain Foundation "Most Creative" fundraiser award! We are honoured to be on the receiving end of your skill, compassion and commitment - a true force for change altogether!
Kate was one of five students from Fordham University in New Jersey, USA who landed on South African soil early this year for a 6-month community engagement project with Lesedi la Batho. They were just mapping out their project ideas, when their experience was cut short as they were hurried back to their home country just before the international lockdowns at the end of March.
Kate was determined to still do something for the community of Mabopane from back home, and has been completing an internship with us throughout her "summer break" from university. She has been enthusiastically working alongside our fundraising efforts to expand our impact, developing training manuals, and researching new fundraising opportunities and campaigns. Kate compiled a fun video called "Fundraising with Archie" to show our supporters that "fundraising for Lesedi la Batho is so simple even a puppy could do it", featuring her new puppy, Archie. Kate entered her video to a fundraiser competition by the GivenGain Foundation, and won! The prize funds of $250 will be directed towards Kate's fundraising project, supporting Lesedi la Batho's relief efforts during the coronavirus crisis.
GivenGain wrote, "Kate showed the world how one woman and her cute puppy can put the fun into fundraising from home! The money raised will go to the South African charity Lesedi la Batho, whose mission is to empower and equip unemployed youth and vulnerable women to become purposeful, motivated and independent of handouts."
A message from kate...
Rays of Hope, a foundation based in Germany which has supported the work of Lesedi la Batho for several years, have brought new life and revival to the Lesedi Strikers Ladies Football Team in Mabopane, South Africa. The semi-professional team, coached by Nhlanhla Maseko - CAF A licensed coach and former Banyana Banyana centre forward, was founded in 2011 to improve the soccer skills of talented young black female soccer players while proactively teaching them essential life skills. In recent years, the program slowed due to a lack of funding, however in January 2020, Rays of Hope revived this story of hope and a future for young black female soccer players in Mabopane by generously sponsoring the program, and our ladies would like to say THANK YOU!
It was a very exciting day at Lesedi la Batho when we welcomed our special guests from the IDSA and the Embassy of Georgia!
Thank you to our visitors who not only took the time out of their very busy schedules to visit our community centre, but also donated one whole month of groceries for the Ratanang Day Care children!
The lovely Mrs Nino is the President of the IDSA (International Diplomatic Spouses' Association), and her husband, Mr Beca Dvali, is currently serving as the Ambassador of Georgia to the Republic of South Africa. Mrs Elena, from Bulgary, is the General Secretary for the IDSA. The IDSA South Africa members comprise of the spouses of accredited Heads of missions and accredited spouses based in South Africa. The objective of the organisation is to promote cultural and social exchange between members of the Diplomatic Corps and South Africans. IDSA extend assistance and support to various charitable organisations in South Africa, including Lesedi la Batho.
Ke a leboga ("thank you") for your generous hearts and keen interest in the work we are doing to make the community of Mabopane a better place for all! Thanks also to Chris Opperman and the Tshwane Metro Police Department Diplomatic Unit for escorting our visitors safely to our community!
Dear Lesedi friends, partners & supporters,
Welcome the Lesedi la Batho blog! Stay in touch with our latest stories, beneficiary testimonials, partnerships, events and achievements right here in the “Our News” section of our website.
As they say, happiness is only real when shared - and we have a lot of positivity to share - thanks to YOU!
We hope you enjoy sharing in real, positive, uplifting stories from our community centre in Mabopane, South Africa…
Together, we create hope!
The Lesedi la Batho Team