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South Africa needs our prayer

Jul 21, 2021 in Tshepanang Eng

South Africa needs our prayer

Last month two of our long standing co-workers passed away suddenly. Itsholeng Loving booked off sick at the beginning of June. The flu season had just started, it was cold. A few days later Kesentseng Nanyane also fell ill, she did have typical Covid symptoms and was confirmed to be Covid positive after a few days. Both passed always within less than a week. We are still dumbfounded, speechless, it seems to unbelievable coming to our office/centre without them being present. Both served our organisation with their different talents and gifts: Kesentseng was a project manager of Tlamelang, she worked in the office to handle lots of administrative work. Kesentseng served in the Tsibogang Management board as the treasurer of the organization and she was also visiting and advising the staff of four After school centres around Mahikeng. Sitting in the office also led to her role as counsellor and advisor for our members who came to the office. Itsholeng was a member of Tsibogang Christian Action Group since 2004, she started as a peer educator, moved on to home based care, she was employed as a counsellor in the organization. Her gift to encourage people living with HIV/AIDS to take the ARV regularly and to disclose their status. She helped a lot of people in the self- help group Amogelang to change their perception of their HIV status. They encouraged others to start their own support groups in other places. It was Itsholeng’s initiative to begin a group for children living with HIV/AIDS more than 10 years ago. The group was called Let’s play children (A re tshamekeng bana): children between the age of 7-17 meet every second Saturday in the Tsibogang centre. They play together, do Bible studies, learn about the crucial ARV treatment and other important health issues. They eat together and share important issues of their lives. Through this group and the friendships which started there a number of children’s lives were saved because they learned for the first time why they had to take ARVs. The friendship within this group uncovered a lot of talent: poetry, dancing, singing. Almost all children improved their school results due to the encouragement which they received through the group. During the last two years Itsholeng was engaged in a project doing follow ups on patients who had left their TB/ARV treatment. She also conducted counselling sessions for our members on a regular basis. Itsholeng and Kesentseng had mutual friendship and fellowship with a number of members of Tsibogang Christian Action Group. We shared so many experiences over the years. We don’t know how life will go on in Tsibogang without them, but we trust that God had his own plan and thoughts by taking them from us. Our thoughts are with their families and friends and all the children who they served. We take refuge in this verse from Jesaya 55,8 : “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As South Africa is fighting the third wave of Covid infections, conflicts are brewing within the government and the ANC. The violence and looting which took place last week shocked the whole country and the world. Please pray for South Africa and her people that amidst this tensions democracy, respect...

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Tsibogang Annual General Meeting

Jun 8, 2021 in Tshepanang Eng

Tsibogang Annual General Meeting

This year’s AGM of Tsibogang Christian Action Group took place on 22 May 2021. 66 members were in attendance. Even though the Tirisano Hall of St. Joseph’s Retreat Center is a spacious room we could not invite all 112 members in order to comply with social distancing regulations. Instead, the three Action Groups sent a fixed number of delegates. Committee members of the Action Groups as well the Management committee presented their annual reports coving the period of the last financial year (1. April 2020 – 31.March 2021). In this year all our projects and activities were heavily influenced by the Corona Pandemic. As all schools were closed from April to the beginning of June and again in August 2020 our Tshepanang Peer Educators could not teach during these months. When the schools gradually opened again, they were first teaching newly developed lessons on COVID 19. The teaching time that was originally planned to end in September was prolonged until the end of November. That is how it was possible that the peer educators could still teach the key lessons on HIV to 3840 learners in 23 schools and an assessment on HIV related knowledge could be written in all schools. Even the Early Learning Centers and After Schools Centers had to remain closed during the months of strict lock down. When they gradually re-opened less children than before attended. As it is practiced in the schools even in most of our Afterschool Centers not all children can attend on a daily basis because the rooms are too small for all children when we want to comply with social distancing regulations. They take turns either daily or weekly. Because of the many lost teaching days, the literacy training could not continue as planned in 2020. But in 2021 it has resumed in all ten After School Centers. But because most children can attend only every second day the progress is slower that we wished. The annual financial report indicated that in terms of finances the last year was a surprisingly good year for Tsibogang. The total income amounted to R 4,930,272 (around 290,000 Euro). With the ELM a totally new donor came on board. Foerderkreis Mission &Gemeinschaft and the German Institute of Medial Mission gave additional donations for food parcels that alleviated the hunger of the poorest families in our areas of operation. Even from the US Embassy, the South African National Lottery Commission and the Aurum Institute we received higher donations than expected. These funds will however all been used up by September 2021. Unfortunately, we cannot apply for new funding in this financial year from the last three mentioned donors. Even the approved funding from Foerderkreis for this year is much less than in the previous year. That means we are facing the challenge to find new donors until September 21 if we want to continue with our present projects involving the same number of people as now. After all reports and strategic plans for the new financial year had been adopted a new Management Committee was constituted that will lead our organization in the next three years. The committees of the Action Groups nominated on representative each:  Ann Mosing for Tshepanang, Kesentseng Nanyane for Tlamelang and the newly elected chairperson Norah Motlhatlhedi for Amogelang. Even the...

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Learning to read and write

Mar 25, 2021 in Godisang Eng

Learning to read and write

The public school opened on 15th February, one month later than planned due to COVID 19. On that day our Afterschool programs as well as our two preschools opened. Due to the declining numbers of COVID 19 infections this was possible. Although there are rumours going round that the next wave of infections is around the corner. Immediately after the South African president announced the easing of lockdown we took the decision to run the postponed workshop before the schools opened. Our intention was as many childcare workers as possible should take part in this training for literacy workshop which we had started already last year and could not accomplish due to COVID. From the 9th – 13th of February we went to Magaliesburg for our workshop which was a mixture of learning literacy concepts, practising them in small groups and teaching each other. We learned that literacy teaching should be based on the spoken language of the child, therefore we used the Alphabet poster in which each letter of the Tswana language is depicted with a well known object each child knows. On top of that there are posters of 50 phonograms also depicting well known words.Many children lack an awareness of their spoken language and the posters with the pictures help them to become aware of the sounds of words. This is the basis for the reading and writing program. Once the letters are introduced, the children learn writing and reading. We as their teachers had to practise how to introduce the letters and phonograms step by step. We did this in small groups teaching each other and giving each other feed back on this. The second big topic we learned and also practised teaching was COVID 19. Dr. Hermann had developed some lessons for the primary schools . We realized that the concepts taught in these lessons are quite complicated. The highlight of the workshop was the hike to the mountain which was a big physical challenge for some. In the meantime all Afterschool programs have finished assessing the children to find out who needs help. It is clear already that this is a mammoth task to teach children of Grade 4, 5, & 6 who are not able to read. This is our main objective to help them being able to read and write at the end of the year. Will we be able to achieve this? Christel and Wolfgang Hermann...

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Greetings for the new year

Jan 14, 2021 in Tshepanang Eng

Greetings for the new year

Dear Friends, the new year has already started. In fact, we wanted to have written to you at the end of last year but we were just too tired and exhausted. The new year started with mild rain. That is according to Setswana culture the best what can happen to you. This mild rain is soft and falls continuously. It waters the earth and makes the crops grow. You can see with your own eyes how everything starts to blossom and becomes green. For us this rain was a sign of hope and joy. Even though the past year has in many ways been a very tough year we can say that we are grateful to God that He has protected us in the midst of the Corona Pandemic and helps us to endure the lockdown. Six of our members were infected with SARS COV 2. They all recovered fully but the husband of one of our child care workers died from COVID 19. At the beginning of December we could hold our traditional closing function where we looked back to this extraordinary year. Some of the workshops we had planned could indeed be held. Among them was the blessed Tlamelang workshop that was held at the end of February and the Tshepanang workshop that was held at the end of October with 39 participants that even included six new peer educators who will start to teach in schools this year. Despite the fact that most people just talked about COVID 19 last year we did not forget the ongoing problem of HIV/AIDS in our country. In fact more people in South Africa died from HIV/AIDS than from the Corona Virus. From March to December 2020 in total 28,4699 died from COVID 19. This means that on average 95 people died from COVID 19 per day whereas 195 people died daily from HIV related causes in South Africa in 2020. Our 44 peer educators have taught a total of 3798 students in 22 schools in 2020. 2680 of the students (those attending Grade 6 and 7) wrote an assessment in November to test their HIV related knowledge. The overall average results was 73.6%. Even in our nine After School Projects lessons on HIV were taught. 152 of the attending children (all those who are 10 years old and above) also wrote a test on HIV related knowledge. Their average result was even 78.9%. 13 of our home care givers have tested a total of 2339 clients for HIV in 2020. Those who were found to be HIV positive were referred to the nearest clinic where they were initiated on the life saving Antiretroviral Treatment (ART). In addition through home visits our home care givers traced 193 patients who had defaulted from their Antiretroviral Treatment. 184 of them could be convinced to re-start the treatment. Despite COVID 19 and the lockdown regulations we have received more donations than expected in 2020 and can at the beginning of 2021 gratefully state that our bank accounts are not empty. Just before the December holidays we were informed that our oldest Early Learning Center was for the first time considered for funding by the Department of Social Development. I (Christel) have been fighting for this for eight years. Wishing you God’s rich blessings...

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New peer educators

Nov 4, 2020 in Tshepanang Eng

New peer educators

The 20th Tshepanang workshop ended yesterday with 38 participants. For the first time in three years there were six newcomers to participate, and thanks to new donations to this project, it will be possible for these six newcomers to start as peer educators next year.In these twenty years the curriculum of Tshepanang has changed several times, adapted to the new social situation and the change that most peer educators teach younger learners. It would have been a good idea to celebrate this 20th anniversary but due to COVID 19 this is not possible.In this blog I will introduce you to one of the newcomers with whom I did an interview. Bokamoso Chipeta is one of the new peer educators in Tshepanang CH: Thank you for agreeing to tell something about yourself, your life and your participation in this workshop. Where do you live, who did you grow up with and how did your school career develop?BC: I am Bokamoso Chipeta and I live in Signal Hill, a part of Mahikeng, with my two siblings and my parents. After Matric I wanted to become a teacher, but I was rejected at the university, so I studied network engineering in Johannesburg and completed it. I’ve been looking for work for two years and can’t find anything.CH: Besides looking for a job, what have you been doing in the last two years?BC: It was hard for me not to be able to do anything. Since I still wanted to be a teacher, I went to my old school and volunteered there. That made me very happy. CH: How did you come to the Tshepanang workshop?BC: Ann Mosing, one of the Peer Educators knows my father and she told him about the workshop and so she invited me to come. CH: How do you feel among the Tshepanang peer educators?BC: I really felt welcome and enjoyed their company. They helped me during the presentation and the preparations of the lessons and a gained confidence.CH: Looking forward to next year being a Tshepanang peer educator where do you see challenges? Is there anything you are afraid of? What are you looking forward to? BC: I am so happy that things are moving now that there is something happening and I will be finally in the situation of teaching children, what I really enjoy. Since I am not teaching alone but together with an experienced peer educator I am not afraid of anything. There is still plenty of time to acquaint myself with the curriculum and I can get up in the morning doing something useful and important. I trust that God will guide me in this journey. CH: Thank you, Bokamoso, for the interview, I wish you God’s blessing for your start as a peer educator in...

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Spring greetings from South Africa

Sep 21, 2020 in Tshepanang Eng

Spring greetings from South Africa

Although there is still no swallow in the sky, there are swifts and it is really warm, almost hot. But we still enjoy not having to freeze after such a long winter. The so-called lockdown has also contributed to the fact that we felt the winter more than in the previous years. We are now on lockdown level 2, which makes things a lot easier. What has happened in Tsibogang? All Tshepanang members who were infected with COVID 19 in the first few weeks have recovered, for which we are very grateful. Overall, the statistics say that 90% of all COVID 19 infected people have recovered fully. The last grades of the school children that had to stay at home are now back in schools. However, the lessons are massively disrupted by all the necessary social distancing rules. Since there are up to 50 children in most classes, the children only go to school on certain days or alternate weekly. We are glad that all of our after school programs have started again, but we adhere strictly to the social distance rules, all children / helpers wear masks. The government’s back and forth about schoolchildren has unsettled many, which has led to a number of children no more attending school. The parents wait until the next year. For the children in our after school programs an important reason for their presence is that they get food. In the months of March-July, hunger was a major problem for many families. Since August 24th, when all learners came back to school, there has been a meal again in the schools. This helps the families who are affected by unemployment. We are glad that we were able to distribute food parcels through special donations. This year we set out to specifically help children who have difficulties with reading and writing. We have to postpone that to the next year, because the children now have a lot to catch up on and they are covered with loads of homework. Since the beginning of July there have been children again in our preschools, but much less because their parents are worried about COVID 19 infections. The teachers can finally give every single child the care they need. After two months we can already see progress in some children. The children do not wear masks, but the teachers do. At first it was irritating for the children, but now they are used to it. In Godisang we have a 7 year old autistic girl since two weeks. She is waiting for a place in a special school. The mother had heard good things about our preschool and asked if we could accept her. I was very glad that our two preschool teachers accepted this challenge and took her in. By this we find ourselves being those who have to learn and find a way how to communicate with her. She is not talking but at times makes a lot of sounds which irritate the other children. We try our best to introduce the Montessori material to her. She uses it in different ways but she seems to like us and the preschool. The other day her mum forgot her mask at home and had to go back to fetch it and she was very cross...

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How Tsibogang reacts to the COVID 19 Pandemic

Jun 26, 2020 in Tlamelang Eng

How Tsibogang reacts to the COVID 19 Pandemic

Before COVID 19 14 million households in South Africa reported that they have no food security. Due to the lock down regulations this number has now doubled. Especially the informal trading helped many people to get food on the table. These activities were virtually impossible under the lock down regulations and will continue to be severely compromised even when the lock down regulations will be scaled down. The lack of food was of course experienced even in the nine regions where our home care givers and childcare workers are living. That’s why from April on we started to apply for funding of food parcels approaching a variety of donor organizations in South Africa and Germany. The German Institute of Medical Mission was the first to respond. They approved 4000 Euro emergency relief for food parcels. We requested our home care givers to investigate who the 20 most vulnerable households in their village or sub-urb were. They did door to door campaigns with lessons on the symptoms of COVID 19 and how to protect oneself and assessed the situation in each family. From 20.05.20 on we could start to distribute the food parcels. They contained mainly maize meal, cake flour, cooking oil, sugar beans, tinned fish, sugar, tea, peanut butter and soup powder. One parcel can feed a family of four for one month. The recipients were overjoyed and relieved. On 23.05.20 the Foerderkreis Mission & Gemeinschaft e.V. decided during their virtual AGM to donate 9000 Euro for food parcels to Tsibogang. That means that we will be able to repeat the distribution of 180 food parcels in this and the coming month. On 01.06. the schools in South Africa were supposed to be re-opened. That date had to be postponed by a week to 08.06. because many schools did not yet fulfill the criteria for opening, e.g. the availability of water on the school premises. But on 08.06. most of the school were found to be ready and the learners from Grade 7 and 12 were allowed to go back to school. Even our 46 peer educators returned to their schools. As I was concerned that the principals of the schools would not allocate periods to our peer educators because of the huge amount of lost teaching time I requested the peer educators to find out whether it would help if I developed some lessons on COVID 19 that they then could present to the learners, because the ongoing teaching on COVID 19 is now a requirement of the Department of Basic Education. Most principals welcomed my initiative. As a result we conducted a one day workshop for each of the three regions Mahikeng, Itsoseng and Lehuruthse. During this workshop I presented four lessons on COVID 19 to the peer educators. We did not call all our peer educators on one day in order to adhere to the social distance regulations of 1.5 m distance between the participants in the hall of our center. Many of the peer educators struggled to keep their masks on during the whole day but otherwise they participated with enthusiasm. Since then all peer educators in 24 schools have started to teach the lessons on COVID 19 to the grade 7 learners. Many of the classes had to be divided into two or three...

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Tsibogang in the Covid-19 pandemia

Jun 12, 2020 in Amogelang Eng

Tsibogang in the Covid-19 pandemia

“Actually I already know a lot about Tsibogang and the work with the children there. But it might be good to see for myself how the groups get together and how the kids relate to each other.” That was about my expectations when I arrived in South Africa in mid-March. Within the next few days I realized how right I was and yet how far off track I was. Having taken off in Germany at an almost empty airport, there were two fever checks when landing in Johannesburg – but otherwise the subject of corona seemed to be relatively far away here. Together with Thomas Schmidt from the Spiritual Community in Heidelberg I visited the Spiritual Community in Mafikeng and was looking forward to finally experiencing directly all the things I had heard and read about before. Unexpected for me was what kind of obstacles were practically arising: Bad road conditions demand full concentration from a driver in order not to end up in a pothole – and it cannot always be prevented completely. Structural defects in buildings need to be repaired, which is not always possible when it is not clear whose responsibility it is, especially in rented facilities. But all this immediately faded away in the literally beaming eyes of the children! In the self-help group Amogelang children meet who are directly or indirectly affected by HIV. The cheerfulness and exuberance with which the protected space was used here blew me away. The combination of singing with a powerful voice (yes, there were also some individual sounds), carefree playing, attentive listening to new Corona rules and the mutual spiritual strengthening (“Jesus loves the children, they should come to him – this refers to us!”) was absolutely impressive. The washing tub, in which everyone was supposed to wash their hands before, was poured out and replaced by a measuring cup as a source of water. This was not demonstratively planned, but it was an impressive picture of how old behaviour was immediately replaced by new behaviour. That 30 minutes of hand washing is not quite the correct solution for the new hygiene rules could be clarified in the after school program. Simple misunderstandings, which also need to be clarified. The appreciation that the children are shown here is unfortunately not a natural experience for everyone – all too often they have to experience something different at school. And without being able to describe exactly what the reason for this is, I have the feeling that the children realize that this is not only an extension of their schooling, but that it contributes significantly to their character development. Here they are enthusiastic about it. The closure of the schools and kindergardens, and with it the general crisis situation, arrived shortly after I did and made fewer encounters possible than planned – but they were lastingly impressive for me. Many thanks! I’m a member of the spiritual fellowship Koinonia and have known the brothers and sisters in South Africa for over 30 years. Now I have not just received a better knowledge of the work of Christel and Wolfgang Hermann (which was my expectation and hope). In Tsibogang I got a new, unexpected but promising impression of how people pass on the love and appreciation they have experienced in Christ....

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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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