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Lea’s internship

Mar 19, 2020 in Godisang Eng

Lea’s internship

Hello! My name is Lea Mueller. I am 18 years old and I graduated from high school last year and then I decided to do an internship in South Africa to broaden my horizons and moreover this internship should help me in my decision how my future should look like. My internship takes 3 months and the half of my time is already over. Time went so fast. I have also been able to meet nice and and open-minded people and I am very grateful that I can make this trip. During my internship I help in the „Montessori Kindergarten“ in Rebaone and in the afternoon I help in the Afterschool Program by helping the children with their homework. I really enjoy working with the children and I am always amazed at what the children can do at the age. I had not really studied Montessori before but through my time in the kindergarden I realize how important it is and how it helps the children in their development and independence. The children are well prepared for school. In addition this also challenges the personality by giving them the chance to make independent decisions and to be accepted. It fascinates me again and again how concentrated and quietly the children work on their things and not disturbed. I am also impressed every time how quickly the children learn and then implement this immediately. But unfortunately things are not going so well at the Afterschool. It is quite frightening how many of them cannot read, write and calculate. Knowing that over the half of the children will not gratuate from school is so sad. They are not even given the chance to achieving something in their lives and pursue their dreams, because they are not learning the basics and actually simple tools for this in school. Many of the children are also intimidated and often deny that they have homework, for fear of doing something wrong or not knowing it. They should not be afraid to learn new things. They should actually enjoy it. Since 2 weeks they introduced  the „Literay Program“ (it is a program to learn to read and write) in the afterschools, which is already a big and important step for the development of the children. I hope so much that they can learn to read and write and above all, that they can regain their self-confidence. I have already collected many impressions of this beautiful country and the lovely people and I learned a lot. I am looking forward to my time and I am curious to see what I can learn and how my life has changed after this...

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Looking back to 2019

Dec 31, 2019 in Tshepanang Eng

Looking back to 2019

Dear Friends of Tsibogang, a week of rain has turned South Africa in a green country again. This comes after a long standing heat wave with temperatures of 23° C at night and up to 40! C during the day where we longed to see clouds on the sky. Most of the Tsibogang activities for this year have come to an end. On 09-13.12.2019 our support group for children with HIV held its educational camp at Haphororo Retreat Centre near Pretoria. Wolfgang Hermann is leading this camp with four of our co-workers. They had more than enough rain there until 12.12.19. We are grateful that we could do most of our planned activities this year due to the donations that we received from you. On 1. December, we commemorated World AIDS day and held our traditional closing function. On this day we remembered all who are living with HIV and are faced with the challenges of this condition as well as those who died from AIDS. Since 17 years our organization walks with the People Living with HIV and tries to support them. Antiretroviral Treatment is available in South Africa since 2004 and there have been noticeable improvements in this treatment during the last couple of years. Nowadays it is sufficient for most people to take one single tablet at night that contains three drugs. In our organization we have members who have been living with the virus for 15 years who look after themselves and live a positive life. Like in previous years on 1. December we had someone from our organization who lives with HIV and told us her personal story. This year it was Esther who knows for 15 years that she is HIV positive and takes Antiretroviral Treatment since long. Her viral load is undetectable. She got married and thanked all Tsibogang members for helping her to accept her condition.   There were different dramas that were played by the children of this year newly established After School Centre in New Bethel and by the members of our support group for children living with HIV that is called A Re Tshamekeng Bana. The dramas showed the discrimination that people living with HIV are facing and also dealt with gender-based violence. A slide show helped us to remember this years outstanding events. Wolfgang Hermann gave an update how we are doing in terms of the 90-90-90 strategy in South Africa. We can say that now 90% of those who live with HIV know their status. That means that the first 90 aim has been reached in South Africa. But instead of 90% only 68 % of those who know that they are HIV positive have initiated Antiretroviral Treatment. Especially men are reluctant to take this decisive step and thus put their own lives and the lives of others at risk. Instead of 90% only 54% of all who are living with HIV have a completely suppressed viral load. This is achieved when your take your ART very regularly. That means in South Africa we are still far away from reaching the 90-90-90 aims that we are supposed to reach by 2020. There remains a lot to be done by our organization next year. The keynote address on 1. December was delivered by Thandiwe Kabi from Aurum...

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What’s new?

Oct 20, 2019 in Tshepanang Eng

What’s new?

After a long break it is time for an update. Winter is over and the schools are reopening tomorrow for the last term of the school year. We are asking ourselves: Where is the year gone? The children of the nine after school programs are about to prepare for their final exams. In the week when the Spring holidays started, all ten year olds and above wrote a HIV Test where the overall results was 72.3% which is the best result ever. The other day one of our helpers in one After school program told me that a girl came to her after one of the HIV lessons and requested not to attend them. When she asked her why she said: “My mum is HIV positive and she is not well. I am scared that she might die soon.” The volunteer took this as an invitation to help that girl to debrief and explain to her what she could do to help her mother to get better and to remind her of taking the ARTs. In our two Early Learning Centers the children are keen to write their names. We have seen a lot of improvement when it comes to using the Montessori material. Our toddlers are unstoppable to test the Practical Life material. Here pouring water, squeezing water out of a sponge, pouring water with a funnel are most wanted materials for them. It’s so interesting to observe them when they copy the older children. The Tshepanang group had their annual workshop near Zeerust where the 48 participants prepared themselves for the coming year by brushing up the lessons on compassion, HIV counseling and testing, grace, forgiveness, abstinence. Twenty years ago we have started running these workshops on character building and helping young people making good choices in their lives. Has it made an impact on those who were taught? We pray and hope that is has and goes on to have an impact in future. The highlight of the workshop was the celebration of one Tshepanang Member (Kelebogile Modise) who graduated at UNISA and is now intending to enroll for a BA Education. This is really good news and motivating that all the struggles paid off. 20 Tlamelang members had a retreat day recently under the heading: “Which race do I have to run and what helps me to keep running? “(Hebrews 12,1-3) The day was spent in a nice retreat centre in Zeerust where the stillness helped us to connect to God and to focus on our journey with him. Christel Lorato...

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Home based care workshop

Jul 6, 2019 in Tlamelang Eng

Home based care workshop

This workshop was held at a nice and very welcoming resort called Thaga Moso that is situated at the Zeerust town. This workshop was a 5 day workshop whereby different home care givers of Tsibogang from their different regions met to study and share challenging situations and ways of treating their patients and vulnerable children with care and love. This workshop was the first workshop in Tsibogang where by mutual teaching was introduced to enhance the care givers knowledge and their teaching skills when working with vulnerable kids that attend Tsibogang After School Programs. Mutual teaching is when caregivers are grouped into 8 teams where each group consisted of 3 or 4 members per group and present lessons to each other and each care giver was given a chance to prepare and present his/her part within his or her belonging group. Each day of the workshop members or care givers were singing and sharing quotes from the bible and afterwards then came mutual teaching whereby different lessons about HIV were taught and discussed by the caregivers and their mentors and after the teaching, group members gave feedback to one another on where they need improvement and where there was success during the teaching. There was lots of fun and laughter when the small presentations by the caregivers to each other and in a whole class were done and there was too much participation by the members and their mentors . Lessons such as TB, HIV and AIDS, adherence support, children’s rights, cervical cancer and ways of dealing with trauma and crises were discussed and taught during the workshop day by day and there was also a time where members shared their hurtful personal stories and how they were able to deal with those issues that had a bad and negative effect in their lives. Each day members helped in preparing breakfast, tea, lunch and supper and we all took turns in doing so, even though it was cold especially in the morning but at the end of the day we all took part in preparing food which I regarded as team work and appreciation. Therefore, this workshop was very eye opening and very fruitful because even someone who attended the workshop for the first time would feel very important and became aware of the many things that really are important to us and that she was ignorant of before. That’s why it is important to learn every day and access information as much as we can in our lives so that we go around the whole world sharing the information to those who cannot access it the way we did. Kelebogile...

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A day of hope

Jun 2, 2019 in Amogelang Eng, Godisang Eng, Tlamelang Eng, Tshepanang Eng

A day of hope

On 25.05.2019 Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as president of South Africa for another five-year period. Many people in South Africa have the hope that his new cabinet will be less corrupt and more efficient to rekindle the economy of the country and to reduce the high unemployment rate especially among the youth. On this day of hope 85 members of Tsibogang Christian Action Group came together in St. Jospeph’s Retreat Center in Mahikeng for their annual general meeting (AGM). The three Action Groups presented their annual reports for the last financial year that in line with the government institutions starts on 1. April and ends on 31. March. They also outlined their strategic plans for the new financial year. The newly elected chairperson of Tshepanang Tebogo Kgori reported that last year 48 peer educators had taught the age specific Tshepanang Curricula in 29 schools reaching a total of 5946 students. Since January 2019 45 peer educators teach in 26 schools. Most of them were teaching the new lessons that they got to know during the workshop in October last year. In total the reach 5098 students. The long-serving chairperson of Tlamelang Stephen Modiane reported that last year 35 home care givers had visited 363 chronically ill patients in their homes regularly. 83 local actions were held against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV or PTB in sub-urbs of Mahikeng and in villages of our district. In total 2844 people attended these campaigns. 84 orphans and vulnerable children were educated in our two Early Learning Centers according to the Montessori approach and 493 orphans and vulnerable children attended our After School Programs where they were assisted with their home works and received remedial teaching and a wide range of life skill lessons as well a warm meal per day. The long-serving chairlady of Amogelang Itsholeng Loving reported that last year not only the Amogelang (Accept!)Support Group for People Living with HIV and the support group for children living with HIV (A Re Tshamekeng Bana with 40 members) could be maintained, but two new support groups for People Living With HIV could be established: Kgolagano (meaning togetherness) in Mahikeng and Amazing Women in Welbedacht. In addition three Soul Buddy Groups for children were founded where children are sensitized for issues pertaining to HIV. When presenting the annual financial report Coordinator Dr. Wolfgang Hermann highlighted that in the last financial year the expenditure was more than 750,000 Rand (46,875 Euro) higher than the income and the reserves of the organization were shrinking accordingly. This was caused by the fact that we lost three of our major donor organizations (South African Catholic Bishoph’s Conference, Soul City and Else Kroener Fresenius Stiftung) because they themselves were losing their main donors. The budget for the new financial year that was adopted by the AGM of 3.5 million Rand (218,750 Euro) is less than the budget of the previous years. With this reduced budget we still want to continue with most of our projects except the local actions against stigma and discrimination and the home visits to orphans and vulnerable children. We hope to expand our After School Program if we succeed to secure donations for that from Bingo Umwelt Stiftung and other donors. Wolfgang...

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What is going on in Tsibogang ?

Apr 5, 2019 in Amogelang Eng, Tshepanang Eng

What is going on in Tsibogang ?

Since January we are really struggling to go on: to run a NGO with over 120 members who depend on their stipends and have no other or little other income in a time where month after month the petrol price goes up, electricity goes up by 14 %, food prices go up etc. can be very difficult. Our finance team together with the coordinator had sleepless nights. In March we got the bad news that Soul City, a partner NGO who supported many of our initiatives and through which we could even expand support groups in far away villages, were that the Global Fund will withdraw their support. This has many consequences even for us. Nevertheless the work of the year has gone off the ground well. In our two preschools we have eighty children, a good number of toddlers who challenge our skills. Until Friday 15.3., when the public schools including our preschools (and After School Programs) closed after the first school term, all were busy to help the new children to adapt to the preschool. According to Maria Montessori the best day is when you see children working on their own and they do not even take notice of you, as if you were not there. I observed a boy who was working with the yellow cylinders. He was so fascinated that he built a tower with them seven times. The noise and distraction of children around him did not stop him to go on. When the schools reopened in January we could establish four new After school programs. Around 300 children from Grade R – Grade 7 are regularly attending this program from Monday- Thursday. In the middle of February and in the second week of March all children from Grade 2- Grade 7 were writing a Math’s test and a HIV Test. We have introduced these tests to find out where the children need help and where interventions are necessary. It was rather shocking to see the results. From Grade 1-5 the biggest problem is that basic literacy and basic numeracy are lacking so that they are not able to read and understand the questions which are asked in the tests. Towards the end of the school year another test will be written to see if there is any improvement. The peer education program is started with 48 Peer Educators teaching at 27 different schools despite the reduction in their incentives due to our reduced finances , the peer educators are enthusiastic to go out and teach more than 5000 children . We are grateful for all donations are all your prayers towards our project and thank you on behalf of our members as well as the children and patients we serve. May God bless you! Christel...

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We were looking for peace…

Feb 14, 2019 in Tlamelang Eng

We were looking for peace…

…and we found it! That is how may be the experience of 22 Tlamelang Members who attended the retreat from 03.01. to 06.01.2019 can be summed up. But everything did not start peaceful at all. On the 1st of January in the evening we received a phone call where we learnt that we cannot come to the Haphororo Retreat Center as planned because the electricity transformer there burnt down and as a result they did not have electricity nor water in the whole center. Via internet we started to search for an alternative accommodation but we had little hope that we would succeed on such short notice. However, with the help of God Christel Lorato Hermann found Magalies Retreat Center. It turned out that they still had space for us and that their prices were affordable for us. As a result on the 3rd of January we arrived at that center that is surrounded by the impressive Magaliesberg Mountains. The theme of the retreat was taken from the watchword of the year: “Embrace peace, don’t let it go away (Psalm 34,15). In our search for peace the meditation on 1. Peter 2, 4-10 helped us as did the Lectio Divina based on Philippians 4, 5-8 that were both followed by an intensive and personal sharing in groups. The hiking that led us to the top of a nearby mountain was for many an unforgettable experience. It was an experience of receiving inner peace. Discussions on Gender Based Violence and on Stigma and Discrimination helped us to face the realities that often destroy the peace in our society and in our communities. Team building exercises and the very lively Sunday service enhanced the peace within our group so that we returned home with hearts full of peace. A few days later we received the message that our long-term co-worker Ilse-Marie Matshediso Hiestermann had died in Germany. While Christel Lerato with Benedict and Linda Hermann boarded a plane to attend the funeral in Hermannsburg, Germany we conducted a memorial service for her in Tsibogang Center in Mahikeng on the day of her funeral. 30 people who had worked together with Ilse Marie in the local Lutheran Church and in Tsibogang Christian Action Group attended. Through the speeches of two of her former colleagues, of a representative of the medication group she attended and of Wolfgang Hermann and Undine Rauter as well as through the sermon held by Reverent Jack Mogale we vividly remembered Ilse Marie’s life here in South Africa. She had been living in South Africa from 1984 to 2012. During this time she founded four Early Learning Centers. In 2007 she started Godisang Early Learning Center with three colleagues which was the first Early Learning Center for orphans and vulnerable children of Tsibogang Christian Action Group. This was a mile stone for our organization towards establishing what is now our biggest project- the care for orphans and vulnerable children. We are grateful that we were granted the privilege to live and work with Ilse Marie for so many years! On 19.01.2019 we conducted a work shop for all co-workers of Tsibogang Christian Action Group that are involved in an After-School Program. Due to the generous donation by the firm HMS that is based in Heidelberg, Germany it is not...

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30 years World AIDS day

Dec 19, 2018 in Tshepanang Eng

30 years World AIDS day

Now is the time in South Africa, when the candles bend and the daily prayer and longing for rain clouds are heard. Another year has gone by with many impressions and a lot of work and in Tsibogang with big changes. On December 1st, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day and came together as an organization. This time there were a lot of children present ; those who have joined several children’s groups due to our new partnership with “Soul City”. There was a lot of singing, gum boots dance, drama performed by the children’s support group (A Re Tshamekeng Bana). Touching were the personal stories of individuals who told us how they were helped and encourage to accept their HIV status and as a result their quality of life has improved. A highlight of the day was a presentation of how our organization is doing in the light of the National Health Strategic Plan(NHSP). Dr Wolfgang Hermann pointed to some objectives of this strategic plan and how we comply with it. One goal of the National Health Plan is to significantly reduce new infections in South Africa through information campaigns in schools. In Tshepanang this is also our focus: In 2018, our 52 peer educators in 29 schools reached 5946 students. What does a Mathematics test have to do with HIV prevention? That’s what Dr Wolfgang Hermann asked Tsibogang members in his presentation. The answer came quickly and promptly from a teenager: ”If you’re good at Math, you have self-confidence and you do not have to be pressured by your peers to put yourself at risk.” In our After school programs Maths tests and an HIV tests were written. 121 children 10 years and older have written the test. The average was 64.15%, the best result in the last three years. In the Math test, the 226 children improved by 69.9%. That’s a good motivation for our coworkers. We are approaching the New Year with hope and a little bit of fear. Will we be able to continue all programs? Will there be enough money after US AIDS / the South African Bishops’ Conference has dropped out? We were happy to receive promises of donations from several friends, communities and our family members for the coming year. We are grateful for all the donations we received. The people we serve know that these donations also expresses God’s goodness and generosity. The motto of 2018 “I want to give the thirsty from the source of the living water” and the motto of 2019 “Seek peace and pursue it!” embrace our own gratitude towards God and raise our expectations what the coming year might hold for our work in Tsibogang. Have a blessed time of Advent and Christmas! Christel & Wolfgang...

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Workshop for peer educators

Nov 9, 2018 in Tshepanang Eng

Workshop for peer educators

On 03.10-07.10.2018 46 Peer Educators of our Action Group Tshepanang assembled in the beautiful guest farm Kaya Inkalamo to hold their annual workshop. The discussions, presentations and lessons focused on three areas: Firstly there was the spiritual question why God has not yet answered our prayers to give us new donors for our project. The main donor for the Tshepanang Project during the last 10 years, Else Kroener Fresenius Stiftung, had indicated to us that their funding cycle for us has come to an end. The answer that the Peer Educators found in many discussions, bible studies and a divine service can be summarized as follows: God wants to test us and wants to see whether we remain faithful to our calling to teach children and youth about the important values in life and about HIV prevention strategies even though we receive substantially less money for that. He wants to see whether we practice what we preach. It became clear to Peer Educators that next year they will only be compensated for teaching in one school. For many of them that means that they will receive R 700 (44 Euro) less per month which is equivalent to a third of their total income. Despite that several Peer Educators committed themselves to teach in a second school without receiving any incentive for that. The second big focus of the workshop was to analyze the results of the KAB (Knowledge – Attitudes – Behavior) that we have conducted in August 2018 the schools where our Peer Educators were teaching. The tests related to the knowledge on HIV were written by 4387 students who attend grade 6-10 in all 29 schools. The average result of all schools was 78% which signals an improvement by 115 compared to the previous year. The anonymous questionnaire on questions related to attitudes towards HIV and sexual behavior was filled by 2118 students from 15 schools. In the other schools the school management did not give permission for the study because of the sensitive nature of the questions contained in the questionnaire. The most surprising result of the study was that even though only 15 % of the students indicated that they ever have been sexual active 48% of them indicated that they would choose condoms as their preferred option for HIV prevention. 39 % chose abstinence and 13% “Be Faithful”. In the age group 10 -13 years 52% opted for abstinence, 10.4 % for “Be faithful” and 37.6% for condoms. These results show that abstinence is not popular among the youth in South Africa. Even though they are abstinent they are ashamed to indicate it. This trend is more pronounced among the boys of whom only 28.8% opted for abstinence whereas among the girls 49% opted for abstinence. We have reacted to these results by revising our lessons on HIV prevention during this workshop. It is a great challenge to make abstinence more popular among the youth. Apart from the revision of the HIV prevention lessons the third big focus of the workshop was to familiarize our Peer Educators with nine new lessons on values. These lessons were based on stories from the newly published book from “Heartlines” (a Christian NGO in SA that publishes films and books on values) with the title “Stories that talk II”. Some of the lessons...

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A successfull example of Montessori teaching

Oct 1, 2018 in Godisang Eng

A successfull example of Montessori teaching

Observing children in Montessori pedagogy is key to be able to understand where the child is in her development and it is also an important tool to help the child to go forward. This post was written by Tidimalo Mokaila, one of the newly qualified Montessori teachers at Rebaone/Lomanyane Early Learning Centre. She observed a girl who is in our preschool since she was two years. Towards the end of the year she will turn five and move on to Grade R next year. During the last months she has made huge steps in her development. Tidimalo writes: Thato is eager to learn and passionate in what she does. She seems to be enjoying Language and Mathematics. She likes working with the Movable Alphabet Box ( this is the key material used to teach writing to the children. It contains all letters of the alphabet, the vowels are in blue the consonants are in red) Thato likes to write and re- write words which are supplied. eg.ntlo which means house in Tswana. She takes out the letters and lays down the word, then writes it on paper. She knows half of the alphabet and is able to write her name without copying from a paper. In Mathematics she knows the number up to thirteen . She counts and also writes the numbers. When she is working ,she is totally absorbed in her work, nobody can disturb her. Whenever I ask her if she wants to explore new material, she is eager to see the presentations. Thato is a good example for the Montessori method because over the last three years we could see how she grew into an independent child and how she explored the Montessori material to get where she is now. Tidimalo...

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