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Fisantekraal Bike Club update

Fisantekraal Bike Club update

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“It has been one year since the Fisantekraal Bike Club was born out of an empty shipping container behind the rural community’s High School, 10 km from the Northern Cape Town suburb of Durbanville. Naturally there have been obstacles, challenges, joys and accomplishments along the way and it is in the reflecting – in looking back at where we started – that we can truly see how far we’ve come. It overwhelms me with gratitude to remember all those who have supported the project along the way. For this, I wish to express, on behalf of everyone here on the ground, our immense thanks to our supporters, donors and cheerleaders – to YOU! Thanks for being part of our journey in 2014 and we hope you will continue to follow the Fisantekraal Bike Club as it grows and evolves in 2015.

Since school recommenced in January this year, we’ve been busy like bees. Here’s a taste of what we’ve been up to:

Cycle of Giving – In partnership with Bellville Track Cycling, we tuned up nearly 20 children’s bicycles donated by our local community at the Bellville Velodrome in January. Bicycles are currently being assigned to youth aged 3-12 who have been nominated by Bike Club members (brothers, sisters and neighbors) and will be distributed by our high school youth over the next 6 weeks.

Open Streets on Bree Street – A dozen of our club members took part in the Open Streets (car free) celebration on Bree Street this January, riding bicycles our friends at Rondies Bikes from Observatory to the CBD. Our youth participated in a bicycle scavenger hunt with The Riding Hood, tested out the Blenda-Venda pedal powered smoothie machine and took a ride on the electric bicycles with Pedego!

Bike Fix – This January, our youth members joined Bicycle Cape Town in the southern suburb of Woodstock to learn with the fabulous mechanics at Woodstock Cycleworks!

Cape Town Cycle Tour – 23 of our members competed in the Cape Town Cycle Tour 2015, 47km (shortened) road cycling race, in Cape Town! This is a massive event where nearly 35 000 cyclists race through the stunning scenery (and challenging terrain!) of the Cape Town Peninsula. 20 of our youth completed the course including 2 from our girls’ group, with 10 in total finishing in under two hours!

Cape Argus MTB Challenge – This year we received a couple of substitution entries for mountain bike version of the Cycle Tour and 2 of our enthusiastic members stepped up to the challenge! Mzwanele competed in the 22 km course on the Saturday and Atang in the full 55 km course on the Sunday. We were so proud when our members returned from the races and shared their results: Mzwanele completed in 1h05m and Atang in 4h20m!

Upcoming

As we go forward in 2015, we will be concentrating on excelling within these main objectives of Bike Club:

1) Coordinating community improvement and upliftment projects together (garbage clean up and recycling education, children’s bicycling and safety workshops at the primary school, an the earn-a-bike program at the high school etc.)

2) Supporting all of our members to improve and learn in various aspects of cycling, including mechanics and riding skills, as well as expose our team to local opportunities involving bicycles (business, painting, events, etc). Furthermore, we wish to support specific members to excel in areas where they show great commitment, enthusiasm and aptitude in a specific style of cycling (track, mountain, road, etc).

3) Coordinating a cycling team and facilitating group rides and participation in local cycling events.

4) Maintaining a workshop facility whereby Fisantekraal Bike Club members can use tools and guidance from leaders and other members to maintain and repair their bicycles.

Watch out for these exciting events!

1) April 18: Bike Wash at Philadelphia MTB competition – 5 of our members will be assisting Brunox Lubricants at this exciting mountain bike event and earning cash for the Fisantekraal Bike Club.

2) May 28: Corporate Social Responsibility project – 6 of our enthusiastic mechanics will assist nearly 200 staff from a Cape Town company to assemble 50 Avalanche bicycles at as part of a CSR event being hosted in Langa. The Fisantekraal Bike Club is honoured to have been invited to participate in the event and to be the recipients of the assembled bicycles!

To all of our ‘cheerleaders’, local and international: We have come so far and will continue to grow and thrive because of your support. On behalf of myself and our youth members, thank you SO much for being a part of Fisantekraal Bike Club’s very first year! Let’s make 2015 an even better year – ride on!

Brenna Coupland
Project Coordinator
Fisantekraal Bike Club”

It’s Awards Time

It’s Awards Time

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It was a proud evening for learners and parents alike. An occasion when hard work and academic achievement were given their just reward. On Wednesday evening, Fisantekraal Secondary School hosted its annual awards ceremony.

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It’s Awards Time!

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It was a proud evening for learners and parents alike. An occasion when hard work and academic achievement were given their just reward. On Wednesday evening, Fisantekraal Secondary School hosted its annual awards ceremony.

The theme of the evening was “The Sky is the Limit”, a theme that seemed to have great resonance with the learners. As animated as ever, the learners nodded, clapped and cheered as the two speakers delivered their impassioned speeches. This sense of enthusiastic support and genuine celebration of achievement became even more realised when the awards started to be announced. With every name called came a whoop of appreciation and laughter. Each learner showed their happiness upon receiving their award in very different ways. Some beamed from ear to ear, some danced, some looked tentative, some even looked mildly embarrassed by the sheer volume of accolades they received. But the overwhelming emotion was one of pride. The recognition and celebration of achievement is an integral part to any learners progression and confidence – it reaffirms their commitment and drive towards their own education in lure of some extremely testing social circumstances.

It was also incredibly encouraging to see that so many of the learners that received awards were regular attendants to the Each 1 Teach 1 tutoring programme. Those individuals that came almost every single Saturday and put in the extra effort and dedication to reach that higher grade. Its confirmed the importance of the programme as an invaluable tool in helping provide the opportunities and frameworks so that every learner can try and reach their full potential. The foundations have been securely put in place; but now as ever, it is vital to continue to build upon the amazing initiative the programme has begun. Next year’s award ceremony promises to be even bigger and better.

 

The Sweet Sound of Music

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The Fisantekraal High School Music Programme began in August 2013 with a group of motivated young high school students extremely excited to engage, in what was for most was their very first musical experience.  The aim of the programme was to introduce the students of Fisantekraal to musical expression with an instrument that was both familiar and popular to them – the guitar.

We began with teaching the students the basic structure and fundamentals of reading and interpreting music on their guitars, with the long-term goals of teaching them to play songs and participate in performance. The students displayed extraordinary talent under the tutelage of their guitar teacher, and within the first three months they were ready to play in their first stage performance, Mr and Mrs Fisantekraal. Along with the student’s progression, a stout sense of discipline was developed. They realised that learning an instrument is not something that is simply recreation and entertainment, but that true mastery and success came from the commitment and effort that one puts into an activity.

The programme was combined with other Each 1 Teach 1 academic efforts in compulsory school subjects to create holistic educational development programme that encourages and supports achievements of all kind. After seeing the dedication in which these kids approach their work, we are planning to enlist them in music theory and practical exams through Trinity Guild Hall, and we are confident in their ability to succeed at it. We hope in time to establish a more complete music programme with multiple instrument choices and if successful, a fully-fledged music department that includes music as a subject choice for those wanting to study it at a tertiary level.

Each 1 Teach 1 began this programme with the hope that the dedication and skill development that music demands will give the students the confidence and drive that will help them succeed in all areas of their life and encourage them to inspire other members of both their school and community to achieve. With the progression that these students have made in these past few months we believe we are well on our way to giving students a chance to pursue music further and make it a part of their lives.

Peace & Love.

Each 1 Teach 1: A Tutor’s Perspective

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“The thirst to learn is as strong and buoyant as ever…”

A tutor’s perspective: words by Sofia Viruly. Photos by Laura Viruly.


There have been few times this year that I have been truly amazed.

If anything, there must be only a handful of times when one is gifted such an emotion. However, working for Each1Teach1 has provided such moments with astonishing regularity.

Not only has the organisation grown this year but also the achievements, both big and small, have truly been noteworthy. Saturday tutoring has been one of our greatest achievements. The commitment from the tutors has been amazingly dedicated; we were unable to tutor on only five Saturdays this entire year. We have a group of about eight tutors who I have come to know, and hugely appreciate.

Our tutors have not only grown together as a group, but the children have made close bonds with them too. The children we have worked with this year have been very special. Not only have they become more confident in their spoken English but also their written English is improving at an astonishing level. Yes, grammatically there is much to teach them, but they are not short of creativity. We have had stories about cows transforming into goats, and ghost stories mixed in with romantic poems. They all love to act, sing and dance; a spectacle we got to see with our Fisantekraal Has Talent.

Maths has also seen a steady improvement. Our tutors have taught Maths (many times without a textbook) and the classes have remained at a steady number thought the year. While there is still a language barrier, which proves to be problematic at times, it is wonderful to see how both tutors and students interact and find common ground.

There is no doubt that the tutoring is seminal, but we have always been about more than just the academic sphere. The children have not only had the chance to go on outings but have taken part in workshops on drugs and teen pregnancy. This holistic and multifaceted approach is something that we value with the highest of importance.

It has certainly been a year of significant challenges and there have been many obstacles to overcome; but the tangible results and the positivity exude at every meeting with these young learners has been ever reaffirming. The thirst to learn is as strong and buoyant as ever. I have no doubt that there is a bright future for Each1Teach1; our own motivation to further establish channels of opportunity is certainly as high as ever.  

Peace & Love.

PLI 2012 highlights: teaching, building, and sharing

PLI 2012 highlights: teaching, building, and sharing

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PLI 2012 highlights: teaching, building, and sharing

As this year comes to a close, and upon reflecting on the progress we’ve been able to make, we feel excited about what, with the help of our supporters, will be done next year. Below is a glimpse of programs we will be expanding upon in 2013. We thank you for all for your support!

Teaching:

Upon consultation with the Fisantekraal High School staff and parents of learners, Peace and Love International began developing a much needed academic tutoring program for the youths called Each1Teach1. At the time we began recruiting talented tutors from the University of Cape Town (UCT) we were dismayed by the fact that 86% of the school’s pupils were failing their grades. Our program got off to a strong start thanks to the assistance of UCT student group called Ubunye who for years has developed and maintained tutoring efforts in marginalized communities. By bringing dozens of university students to the high school we managed to assist students eager to improve their academic performance. Though we certainly cannot take credit, students, staff, and the school’s principal are adamant that the program has demonstrated results, and we are thankful that at the end of the school year majority of the students were moving onto the next grade.

We wrapped up our tutoring effort with a unique celebration for the academically-committed high school students who participated in our tutoring effort, taking them on a nature outing thanks to a transportation grant by the HCI Foundation. At the end of 2013 we hope to take even more students on this celebration as we intend to expand our tutoring program to all grades of students at the school (8,9,10, and 11) while diversifying the subjects offered for tutoring. Similarly, our energetic Each1Teach1 steering committee members have been busy planning a recruitment drive for the new year, naturally making us very excited about the wonderful tutors joining our team in the months to come.

Sharing

In 2012 Peace and Love International received a generous Matching Grant from Rotary Clubs in Canada and South Africa which saw the shipment of a 12 meter container from Vancouver to Cape Town. The contents of the container were thoughtfully gathered by The Rotary World Help Network and packed by kind Rotarians who made every effort to fill the container to its maximum capacity with medical supplies, educational materials, sporting equipment, musical instruments, and everything in between! We were eager to receive this support not only for the fact that it allowed up to expand and enhance our initiatives, but equally for the fact that it enabled us to reach out to our community partners doing quality work for those in need. To this end, PLI was able to share thousands of items with over +20 organizations, including Red Cross Children’s Hospital, 2 under-resourced government hospitals, 7 Rotary Clubs, and over 15 community organizations such as Noluthando School for the Deaf, Education Without Borders, and the South African Education and Environment Project. The ripple effect created by the Rotarians who worked so hard to deliver these goods to us is beyond measure and we thank them on behalf of all our community partners in Cape Town.

 

Building
This year we broke ground at Fisantekraal High School and were able to construct a netball court for the new school’s first pupils. Netball is a sport traditionally played by woman, but our aim to break this gender barrier at the school by offering a program for male students while providing a rare opportunity for the school’s female students to participate in a meaningful, empowering group activity. Like all our other programs this one too shall focus on life-skills, using sport as a medium for confidence building and positive decision making while academic stipulations of the program will seek to enhance educational performance. The court was completed in December 2012 and the first teams will be offered to the youths in the new school year. The construction of the court was sponsored by Rotary Clubs in North America and South Africa.

    Thank YOU

 
2012 has been PLI’s most successful year yet. We would not have been able to do what we’ve done without the support of people like you, countless Rotarians, school staff, community members, organizations like Ubunye, Rotary, and the HCI Foundation, dedicated volunteer from the University of Cape Town, and extraordinary individuals serving on our board of directors in South Africa and Canada. If you believe in the work we do, please share this post – hopefully it will result in us meeting more people like you, allowing us to continually expand our efforts for those in need.

Wishing you a wonderful new year,

The Peace and Love International Team

From our hands, into theirs; a heavy delivery for Baphumelele!

From our hands, into theirs; a heavy delivery for Baphumelele!

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About a year ago some of our Canadian friends in Rotary came to visit us in Cape Town. While here, they learned more about our efforts on the ground, and wanted to help by sending us the materials we needed to expand our programs. They also connected with other organizations doing good work in the community. One that caught their eyes was Baphumelele, a truly vast community effort ranging from orphanages to hospices.  Peace and Love International, having visited their operations 3 years ago, can attest to the organization’s positive impact on Khayelitsha.

Our friends wanted certain items delivered to the home. The most prized position for the orphanage was a piano!

There was also 20 hospital beds with mattresses for a brand new hospice! What a packing job was done that day…

Peace and Love International wanted to go above and beyond the resources designated for them, and as such, we started identifying other needs after consulting with Mama Rosie, Baphumalele’s founder. In the next few weeks, you’ll see more photos of the assistance we were able to provide to Baphumelele… See you here again soon!

French books from Canada proving surprisingly useful in South Africa

French books from Canada proving surprisingly useful in South Africa

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South Africa is the financial hub of Africa, and as such, there are millions of African refugees who have moved here in search of a better life. People, lacking opportunity in their poorer countries, cross the borders, legally and otherwise, often with their children, working against the odds to move forward.

However, there are next to no social services for these refugees. Since the xenophobic attacks of 2008, African refugees continue to live in fear of violence. The state overlooks the needs of the migrant communities to appease a national voter base suffering from staggering unemployment; a common scapegoat is to blame the ‘foreigners’.

Children of refugee parents from French speaking countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Rwanda, and Chad are hit twice as hard given the lack of educational services offered in their mother tongue. Thanks to the culturally sensitive works of those like The Shine Centre, there is some light in sight for those who’ve traveled to Cape Town from afar.

Shine’s website states “The Shine Centre is a nonprofit organisation based in the Western Cape that provides support in literacy and language enrichment to second language children in Grade 2 and 3.” They do, much more, however, as they also provide after school and extracuricular programming for the children of refugee from French speaking African countries. This type of service is truly scarce, and much needed. Beyond sharing office furniture with the organization in order to enhance their efforts, Peace and Love International was most excited to be able to share with Shine a few box fulls of French children’s books; something their kind Communications Manager told us they were greatly lacking.

Merci beacoup, Shine, for the good work you do, and to our friends in Canada who, through the Rotary World Help Network, provided us with these wonderful books!

Our container has arrived safely in Cape Town!

Our container has arrived safely in Cape Town!

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IT IS FINALLY HERE!

It took months of waiting, and lots of running around by some VERY dedicated volunteers on two different continents, but alas, we are with our shipping container in Cape Town! We were so pleased to open its doors, which for months remained locked as our container traveled across the seas, from port to port.

The contents, shipped to us from our friends at the Rotary World Help Network in Canada,   are abundant in variety. From medical aid equipment which can be shared with clinics in marginalized communities and elders in need, to sporting equipment for growing youths lacking extracurricular activities at school, it seems as if we have a little bit of everything to address the needs of many. Over the next two months, one of Peace and Love International’s tasks will be to find sustainable use for the thousands of items we’ve had sent to us.  The bulk of our materials are destined for students and teachers at under-resourced township  high schools, and putting those items to good use is the task we’re most excited about! There are a lot of works ahead for us in the next two months as we find the best way to use all of our newly acquired resources, but we know that when this work is done, many community efforts in Cape Town will receive a great boost in delivering much needed services to those requiring assistance. If you keep checking here, we will keep you completely up to date; you can expect a lot of exciting news to come from our efforts in Cape Town in the months to come!

We cannot express enough the gratitude we have for our friends in Rotary. The process of receiving funding for this container was not an easy one, nor was coordinating its shipment. We have to thank all of our friends in Rotary Disctrist 5050 and 9350 for their tireless, selfless work. Two Rotarians, one from each International District, were particularly active in pursuing a grant for this project, and for making sure it arrived safely and with ease through international ports; Isabella Beane and Mike Walwyn, for this we thank you!

In the coming weeks, we will post more updates and photos, introducing you to our community partners and projects that will be utilizing our resources. Stay tuned!