More in hope than expectation, we booked flights to South Africa last year. Now, three weeks away from take-off it looks and feels as if we might actually go. The opportunity to renew friendships and build networks will be invaluable, and it will be exciting to visit places and meet people that we know of solely through zoom.
We may also see some elephants along the way
The last few months of 2021 were quiet ones for us, save for the excellent Christmas Quiz.
At the end of December, our chair, Ade Lusmore wrote:
As we come to the end of this second strange year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.
It has been a difficult year for us here in the west but we are in a pandemic and it is so much worse in the developing world. Khanya has not stopped supporting its projects in South Africa, indeed we hope to expand into Botswana in 2022.
Khanya can do nothing to help train young people without the support of people like you. Fundraising has been difficult yet again this year and Khanya is extremely grateful to everyone who has donated money to us in 2021, particularly the nine people who give on a regular basis.
Our Secretary has been working tirelessly to find more ways people can support Khanya. Obviously you can donate through our web site www.khanya.org.uk, regularly or as a one off but now you can also:
We wish all our supporters a Happy New Year
When you have the ambitious idea of starting a charity and making a difference, you need to find trustees. When you start as small as Khanya did, you look to friends and associates with open hearts, and ideally, useful skills.
Martin McGann was a close friend of mine and Ade Lusmore, we knew him through our church, and when we asked him to be a trustee he had no hesitation in saying 'yes'. At the time he was a barrister, he hadn't been to South Africa and knew little about it, but his natural inquisitiveness soon brought him up to speed and he was invaluable sorting out the legalities of bank accounts and charity registration and legal agreements with our partners in Grahamstown.
When it came to fundraising, whether in person or on line, he was always willing to help. The picture above is from 2019 at our Call my Bluff winetasting fundraiser, Martin is on the left with fellow trustees, Emily and Rob Fryer.
In September 2020 he gave up the law and started training for the priesthood. He hoped to do a placement at Grahamstown Cathedral to see for himself the environment and society in which Khanya is trying to work.
Shockingly, we heard on 20 July that he had died, he was 37.
There is a big hole in our lives and our hearts and the Khanya trustees will miss his wise counsel and sense of humour. Thank you, Martin, for your encouragement and support, may you rest in peace.
Last month Linda Ngamlana retired as principal of Amsango Career School. Many of us in the UK have known Linda for a while. We met her when volunteering at Amasango, or hosted her on one of her fundraising trips to the UK for the Friends of Amasango.
Linda was instrumental in pushing forward the development of the skills workshop at the school, understanding the importance of giving young people the skills and the hope and confidence to use those skills in the wider world.
Welcome to the new acting head
The new acting head is Dr Girlie Shadaya, Zimbabwean by birth but now living permanently in South Africa. She completed her initial teacher training in Zimbabwe. She holds a Certificate in Education, Bachelor of Education (Special Needs Education and Mathematics), Honours in Education, Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy. All her higher qualifications’ focus of interest has been on children with special educational needs.
She worked as a teacher in Zimbabwe from 1993 to 2008. She then moved to South Africa and taught at Nombulelo Senior Secondary School in Grahamstown. After a brief spell in Cape Town she came back to teach in Grahamstown at Amasango Career School in October 2014. She was appointed deputy principal in June 2018 and has now taken over as acting principal on the retirement of LInda Ngamlana.
Having sat in on some of Dr Shadaya's lessons at the school, I know she is a good teacher and has high expectations of her students. She also understands the importance of offering a vocational path to non-academic students.
We wish her well in her new role.
The new beauty salon
Thanks to the generosity of others, the school has been able to acquire a new container from which to teach beautician skills. We are hoping to play our part in this exciting new venture by training a hairdressing tutor.
In normal times we would have been in South Africa in January or February, but this year it was not to be. Of course, in "normal" times you can go to South Africa at any time of year. But the heat of summer is very welcome after Christmas.
Here you can the view from our favourite bar at Kenton on Sea, where much good thinking on behalf of Khanya has been done.
However, in 2021 we had to do our thinking from our sitting rooms and back bedrooms, or in Ade's case, from his garden shed. So, we've been tidying up our admin and are currently trying to get to grips with a CRM (client relationship manager – a fancy expression for a database).
We've also been contacting other charities working in our areas to see if there are ways we can work together, and also to try to learn more about what constitutes best practice for a small charity such as ours.
Of particular interest, and mentioned with grateful thanks for the time individuals took to talk to us are Cecily's Fund which works in education in Zambia, and the Donald Woods Foundation in the Transkei.
Roll on next January when we hope the sea and sand, as well as many productive conversations will be possible again.
Mbulelo Lukwe and his Sewing Skills Studio trainees have moved into premises in Huntley Street owned by the Rivers of Life Church. Huntley Street incidentally was the birthplace and home of St Andrew’s College Grammar School until 1859. The church, under the leadership of Pastor Innocent Matepo, previously conducted the Living Streams Sewing project as part of their social justice programme. The church has partnered with TGP to ensure the facility is used and the sewing programme continues. The sewing studio is equipped with seven sewing machines including an overlocker and an industrial machine. Sabelo Bill (TGP Sewing Consultant and Nombulelo High OB) is so filled with excitement he can barely sleep at night. Sabelo and designer, Hilary Mohr, are capable of teaching the trainees to produce a wide variety of products at the Rivers of Life facility. Thank you to Pastor Innocent and the leadership team of the church.
The learnership allowances (stipend) Khanya provides for the trainees enables them to focus on training for six months without having to stress about putting food on the table.
Products produced in the Sewing Skills Studio are available for sale at our The Grahamstown Project's Online Shop. Currently available only in South Africa.
Well, it's week one of Sibu and Zim's employment at AMI (African Musical Instruments). And Ben Carver, one of the directors, wrote to us and said "there is only good news to share", he continued to tell us that the trainees have settled well into working alongside their colleagues. The next step is a refresher course on all the machines. Progress will be charted as part of the more formal educational aspect of their growth.
We must never forget that life is not straightforward for young men such as Sibu and Zim, no matter how motivated or talented they are. Life in a township can be hard with lack of food and shelter never too far away. So although they are doing well, our partners in Grahamstown are keeping an eye on them to make sure that they have appropriate help should the need arise. That Khanya is able to provide a steady stipend for them is of great help to them and their families.
We were delighted to hear from AMI – next time maybe we'll be able to share a few pictures.
Our October blog envisaged supporting one of our trainees through further training, but thanks to AMI (African Musical Instruments) two will be starting work there in January. They will be learning on the job how to make marimbas and other musical instruments. Khanya will continue to support them financially during this period. They will be subject to the same regulations as regular employees and will receive the same holidays in terms of sick pay and holidays.
Here you can see where Zim and Sibu will be working and below a foretaste of what they will be making.
Last month (September) our first three trainees completed their training with The Woodshed. Our pilot project is now finished and we have to ask who has learnt the most? Well, we at Khanya have learnt a lot about curriculum development, finding and managing trainers, how to finance this kind of project for starters.
What of the trainees? We never envisaged them emerging as fully fledged carpenters at the end of ten months, that would be unrealistic. However, we hoped to give them basic knowledge and skills on which to build themselves a career or at any rate find employment. Given the different circumstances and health of the three we are pleased that two of them in our view have benefitted from what was on offer. We have decided to support one of them through further training, and the other two will be given tools and support to find work.
As well as keeping an eye on these young men, we are now working in partnership with The Grahamstown Project on a sewing skills workshop, more of this in our next blog.
We had hopes of a training project involving another local construction business, but the pandemic has put a stop to that, for the next six months or more at any rate. However, we continue to maintain our links with friends and supporters in Grahamstown/Makhanda and welcome suggestion as to how we can be involved with skills training.
Hurrah! We are so excited to announce that you can now easily donate to Khanya by doing what comes naturally...shopping! Just log on to smile.amazon.uk or use the app, nominate Khanya as your chosen charity and let Amazon do the rest. Spread the word!
When you shop @AmazonSmile, Amazon will make a donation to Khanya.
,It's a funny old time of year - in South Africa it's winter, the sun is low in the sky and the temperatures can be pretty low, too. In the UK, at time of writing, it is raining and windy.
So here's a photo to brighten things up a bit, courtesy, as ever of the Grahamstown Project (TGP). Here we see two young entrepreneurs rummaging among the shweshwe prints in Jacksons store in Grahamstown/Makhanda. With the help of TGP these young men will be helped to grow their tailoring business.
Anyone not familiar with shweshwe, a traditional range of prints, can see just how gorgeous they are. What you can't see or feel is the thickness of the cotton and the distinctive smell of the starch which was used to preserve the material on long sea voyages.
... and at home
Well, not a lot to impart. We wait for the final report from our pilot project and are working to find new projects to support. Despite the gloomy financial situation in Africa and the uncertainties in the UK, we are determined to find people to whom we can offer useful vocational training and partners to help us realise this vision.
Our trustees meet in September and we will be holding our first AGM – details of this will appear on the home page of this website soon.
Christina Thomas is a trustee of Khanya and serial volunteer at Amasango Career School.