Wednesday, 8 January 2014

What a fun day we had!!!!

On 5 December, 2013, we were given our first Christmas party as children of the first Foundations Project preschool.  We arrived at 10am in our smart uniforms and we all sat down while Auntie Memory made a speech about our first year at preschool.  Some of our parents also made speeches, saying thank you to Auntie Charlotte and Mai Damu and to our teachers who work so hard to look after us and to provide us with the best early childhood development we could get. 

We watched as 12 of our colleagues got certificates as they have left our school and are going into grade 1 this year.  After this was the best part of the day when we each were given a plate of yummy treats including delicious cupcakes made for us by Jess Irvine. Jess joined us at our party and we also welcomed Caroline Kaschula, Jess Lovemore and Kristy Fennel who helped make it even more fun!  

We were each given a pair of shoes for us to wear to school this year and they look so smart!  Most of us got given shoes that are too big but that is ok because it means we will be able to wear them all year!

We ate all our treats and danced to music in our new shoes and we also had a clown organized for us by our teachers and parents who painted our faces and helped us to break open the pinata and eat all the sweeties!

We invited some of the other children from the community who don’t go to our school to join us for the day.  It was fun to include them in our games

Thank you so much to the people who donated money towards our shoes.  We are so grateful and love wearing them! We hope that next year you might join us at our party. 

Thank you to the following for our shoes:
James and Tania Perkins
Helga Kohler
Kath O’Neill
Louise Payne
Jo Fothergill
Natalie Demblon
Holly Hudson
Grace Hudson
Linda Hudson
Jackie Fingland
Nicky Slater
Jess Irvine
Jane Irvine
Shelagh Tozer
Gen Tozer
The Lorimers
Gemma Parvin
Sasha Ferreira
The Soles
Mim Haggie
Isabel Essery
Nick Birkby
Mea Lashbrooke
Niki de Quelen
Bryony Dobson
Lottie Wylde
Lynne Shelley
Meghan Magnussen
Julie Mercer

Here are some photos of our great celebration!
We were so blessed by donations that even children who arent at our school got given a pair of shoes

The clown made us all funny hats out of balloons

Beverly loves her shoes even though they are a bit big! 

Everyone was very proud of their presents

The clown explaining the piƱata

Everyone got a turn to try to break the paper

Brand new shoes were a great excitement in Mabvuku 

Yum, sweeties! 

The clown and the volunteers painted our faces with fun designs

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Progress in 2013

2013 has been a year of a few setbacks but also some great progress for our work at The Foundations Project.  We started off the year with a piece of land and a plan to have children learning and have ended the year with 25 children having attended preschool for 9 months with twelve of those going off to Grade 1 in 2014.

Music for Hope was the fundraiser of the year and Theresa Craig, Muzi Dube and Tammy Dykes helped us tirelessly to pull off a superb, world class event (Live Aid here we come!)  We had amazing artists donating their time and musical talent and put on an afternoon of entertainment including the Chisipite  and Hellenic School orchestras and ending with the main event, The Rusike Brothers, getting everyone off their feet and dancing late into the night.
The Chisipite Orchestra play at our Music for Hope concert 

Our teachers enjoy the music and dance until it is dark 

Unfortunately the event was rather overshadowed by the rain and the rugby so we did not make much money but all who came learnt more about The Foundations Project and our wonderful volunteer teachers got to have a day of fun away from the day-to-day life of Caledonia.

We held a St Patricks Day function at Elcombes Restaurant in Graniteside where we had fantastic donations of food and a live band that played late into the night. We were joined by guests from the Irish Embassy as well as other supporters who ate and drank in celebration of St Patrick and of our work. 

Our wonderful volunteer, Alice, worked tirelessly to pull off a great St Paddys celebration 

However, where the fundraising was slow, we were moving quickly in our work in the community.  25 children paid $5 to register at the Caledonia ECD centre and our teachers underwent training provided by a local organization.  They learnt a great deal and were able to take what they had gained back to the children and start to provide them with the intellectual, physical and emotional stimulation that they have been lacking.  We feed these children a meal a day and hope that in the future, we will be able to provide this service to those children in the community who do not receive even one meal a day and who are in dire need of such a programme.
Children enjoy a treat of chips donated by Miracle Missions but eat ePap on a daily basis, a porridge that provides them with all the nutrition they need to grow big and strong 
Blessing enjoying her lunch 

In July, we bought a shade cloth to protect the children from the heat of the day.  And in October, we bought our first container classroom, a renovated container that was very kindly delivered free of charge by Brendon Malloch-Brown from CONTAINAWISE who has been incredibly supportive of our work thus far.  We could now transport all the toys, books and puzzles that we have had donated to our classroom.  The children’s eyes were out on stalks when they suddenly had the chance to play with the toys that had been donated.  They laughed and played and shared together that day and have done so ever since.
Proud teachers and students under their first classroom 
And the arrival of their real classroom!!! 
There was a great deal of excitement and joy over new toys and games to play with

We held our Christmas party at the Caledonia centre last week where those who were leaving us next year received a certificate and every child received a pair of shoes donated by a generous supporter.  We invited some of the other children from the community to take part in the festivities and it was incredible to witness the difference between the children who have been going to our school and those who came to see what was going on.  They are so much more socially and physically developed and they are confident and proud of who they are.  The hope is that we can ensure that many more children end up this way in the years to come.
Children leaving our school next year received certificates for their attendance at our school 

Our children in their new uniforms wait to have their hands washed before they enjoy the Christmas treats they were to enjoy 

The parents and teachers organised a clown to entertain the children - he made their day! 

55 children at our school and in the community have received a pair of shoes thanks to those who have donated $10 towards our shoe project - thank you!!! 

What we have to look forward to in 2014 is a small farm project that we hope to take on and assist with renovations and teacher training in the year ahead.  The ECD centre on the farm currently caters for 33 children but they are all taught by one teacher, no matter what age they are and they learn in a run down classroom with no resources to speak of.  Our hope is that we can provide renovations and resources and open up the school to many more children in the area.   We also hope to feed the students at the school as well as those in the community who are not so fortunate as to receive any form of nutrition during their day. 

So much can be done to renovate this school and make it into a wonderful place for the farm children to go to school
We thank you all so much for your interest, prayers and ongoing support of our work and look forward to updating you as we move into a new year with new possibilities – the sky is the limit!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Ending 2012 with a 'small' bang! 
We had a fantastic time on the 3rd December last year distributing cereal to 163 of the most vulnerable children in the area surrounding our plot in Mabvuku.  The cereal had been donated by Innscorr and we were able to ensure that each child received something to enjoy over the Christmas period (a few of them not actually sure what cornflakes ARE but quite excited by their packet.  How fantastic it would have been if we could have given them some milk to go with it.  Maybe next time!).  

This little one was not sure of me in the slightest!  It is very interesting to note the difference between the children at The Just Children Foundation who are used to donors arriving to spend time with them and give them gifts to these children who have never seen a white person before, who live off the smell of an oil rag and who don't know what it is to receive something special like a biscuit let alone an education 
Martha ran a fantastic distribution line and we provided them with biscuits and juice and were pleased to see lots of smiling faces.  I love spending time in the field and my greatest joy is to see the smiles that we are treated with from the children.  However, many of the younger toddlers and babies have not seen a ‘murungu’ (white person) before and the smiles soon turned to screams and tears when I got too close. The other beneficiaries and caregivers thought this was absolutely hysterical but I hope that one day these little people will no longer be afraid of me but will trust me and hopefully together we can work to give them a brighter future – here’s to doing so in 2013 and to being able to celebrate the opening of our school very, very soon! 

Bringing in the new year – I see 2013 in yellow, bright and hopeful
The Christmas holidays have brought good news and bad news for The Foundations Project.  The very sad news is that our dear Martha who works so hard for The Foundations Project and gives so much or her heart and time to our work for no remuneration whatsoever lost her husband just before Christmas.  Nathan was a beautiful, gentle and intelligent man who supported us in everything that we did.  He loved Martha and his children with all his heart and I know he will be watching them in the days and years to come and be very proud of all that they are and do. 
Nathan advising me on how we should run the project - invaluable
In amongst this sadness, the hope that we have for The Foundations Project shines bright.  We had a very good meeting last year with a gentleman from the States who will hopefully be coming onboard to assist us with the building of our school at a price that we can actually afford!  After receiving various quotes that just seemed ridiculously expensive, we started to fear whether our expectations of how much we would have to spend had been too courageous!  But we think we may be onto something and hope to start building within the next month.  I know we say this often but this time I have faith that we are on to a good wicket and we are now ready to run!  With the donation of materials that we hope to receive from various donors who have already pledged their assistance, we should be able to at least build the two classroom blocks. Further to this, with the approval of our very first grant, we will be able to finalise the construction of the skills development centre for the caregivers and the community as well as the feeding programme.

Martha has found 91 orphaned and vulnerable children within a 5km radius of our plot between the ages of 2 and 6 that should be in school - we would love to help them all! 
Any building materials that are donated will decrease the construction costs, thus allowing for building of further classrooms, ablution blocks and the lighting the plumbing of the school and the centre.  If you, or someone you know, thinks they might be interested in assisting us with the donation of or discount on any required materials, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0776 404 349 or  We are grateful for absolutely anything that you may be able to assist us with!

In the meantime, we keep working towards our goals and are incredibly touched by those who step up to help in the attraction of funds for our project.  Nicola York will be climbing to Everest Base Camp in March/April to raise money for our first school. All the costs of the trip will be incurred by Nicola and every dollar donated will go to The Foundations Project.  If you want to find out more information on how to donate to Nicola's amazing challenge,click on following link:/  And if any of you feel like doing something similar, let me know and we can help you set up your very own 'Challenge for the Children'.  

Nicola has climbed Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya but this time she is 'climbing for a cause'!!!

At the base of the mountain - cold and rather intimidating but she is up to the challenge
We look forward to being in touch again very soon with photos of construction taking place on our plot and taking anyone who wishes to visit the site out there to see the work firsthand.