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Harvest

Please help us to celebrate out harvest. Most of all be generous; in helping others, young people create their own proof of worthiness: they understand they can make a positive contribution to another human life.

During Harvest we celebrate and give thanks for all we have. As good global citizens we have a responsibility to look after our neighbour and whilst we can’t take care of everyone in the world, we could do something to help our friends in South Africa. Generosity is one of the four key values we aspire to in educating the whole child at Black Firs.

In line with our international exchange with Muizenberg Junior School, Cape Town, South Africa and to coincide with the return visit Mr Hassall and Mr Casserley will make in November, we've planed a sponsored Welly walk as this year’s Harvest celebration. The sponsorship raised will support our financial donation to the Township of Masiphumelele. The sponsored Welly walk will take place on 8th October 2014 and we want you to get involved to help your child raise as much as possible. 

The Whole School are going on the welly walk. We will all be wearing our wellies and we will be walking down the lane, across the fields, around Back Lane field several times. We will then convert the distance we walk into 'Welly miles' and we can track how far around Africa we will have walked!

Mrs Cox and Mrs Milne visiting Masiphumelele  in 2013

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Mr Casserley and Mr Woods visited the orphanage, Hokisa Home, in 2008

We were both devastated by what we saw and heard. Very young children of 7 or 8; the only surviving members of their family – mum, dad, brothers and sisters all died from AIDs. The children had been left with nothing & no one to care for them. All of the children were born HIV positive themselves; their lives were short. The orphanage gave them some self-respect and dignity, it fed them, kept them safe, educated them – it was their family. Only one of the dozen or so children that Mr Woods and I met are still alive but sadly the orphanage is always full; always oversubscribed.

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We felt so guilty and useless that we gave them all the cash we had; to give the children a treat and a little comfort in what has turned out to be a tragically short life. Mr Casserley has kept in contact with the orphanage since his return. There is a donation section on the Hokisa children’s Aids orphanage in Masiphumelele www.hokisa.co.za/. The man in the photo above with the santa hat on, Mr Woods and I met. He is the Home Father Simphiwe Nkomombini a youth leader in Masiphumelele where he lives. He was a big brother and a dad to all the children; they loved him and he was an absolute diamond.

Mrs Wright, Mrs Neville & Mr Casserley visited Masiphumelele Township, Fish Hoek, Western Cape in 2011

One of the Town Elders showed us around Masiphumelele which means “We will succeed” in Xhosa (English pronunciation: /ˈkoʊsə). This spirit of endurance was needed by the people in 1980’s when the settlement was started and, under Apartheid laws these families were repeatedly beaten & chased away; these words are still an expression of their hope of better times to come. It’s a largely

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Xhosa-speaking settlement where 38,000 people, many of them migrants from rural areas, have settled in mostly informal housing (2500 stands/shacks). There is high unemployment, quoted at 70%, exacerbated by an influx of newcomers. Infantile HIV and TB are very high in Masiphumelele and are estimated at 30% to 40%.

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Masiphumelele has a craft centre and theatre, two schools and several churches. National and local government is deploying resources to empower the people of Masiphumelele aided by non-government organisations such as Habitat for Humanity.

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The people of Masiphumelele possess a vibrant spirit despite the debilitating influences of crime, alcoholism and HIV/AIDS and other illness. Most of Fish Hoek itself is a relatively affluent local community. The contrast between these two areas is yet another one of the confusing contradictions of South Africa.

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My idea is that our children go without or give something up – their pocket money, a weekly comic, sweets – and make this small sacrifice a donation to the children of Masiphumelele. The donations we collect at Black Firs will be taken by Mrs Millne & Mrs Cox to the township to where they are most needed. Please take a look at www.hokisa.co.za where the donate section shows what they need. We are asking for just a donation of £5.00 for each family in School, which would equate to £1,000, which is about R16,300 (rand); this will make such a massive difference to the lives of the children in Masiphumelele.

Ukhanyo Township Primary School Masiphumelele

In Xhosa 'Ukhanyo' means' 'light' and for the 1500 students who go to Masiphumelele township's primary school every day, there is a driving belief that education is the pathway towards a brighter life. Attendance rates of the young people in the Township is over 95%.

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The students arrive each day at 8am, proudly wearing full, clean, school uniforms; ready and wanting to learn. It was hard to reconcile that these children – standing tall, in straight lines at morning assembly – with the homes and shacks we saw they'd come from that morning. For many, their only meal of the day is taken at school prepared my volunteers; there is no government funding for schools meals in SA. We were told, by the children, that they had a hot meal since the previous day at school – yet they have hope, and dreams, and plans for a better future.

Sadly, the school is under-resourced in every respect: there are nearly 50 pupils in each class, and many teachers lack the necessary skills and experience to teach in the way that they want and need to. Consequently, they find the task before them overwhelming and are seriously de-motivated. All this means that literacy and numeracy rates are extremely low and students are failing.

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