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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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A Workshop with Challenges

Aug 12, 2018 in Tlamelang Eng

A Workshop with Challenges

From the second to the sixth of July 29 members of our Action Group Tlamelang assembled in St. Joseph’s Retreat Center in Mahikeng to participate in the annual workshop of their group. 32 members had registered but three had to stay at home due to a severe flu. It was one of the coldest weeks in this years winter in South Africa. The electricity was off for almost the whole week so that the electric heaters to warm up the meeting hall could not be used. Because of our financial constraints we could only accommodate those participants in the center who came from outside Mahikeng. Those from Mahikeng had to travel in freezing temperatures from their homes in the morning and in the evening. But they were still better off than those who stayed in the center. Because of the electricity cuts not even water was available in the center as the electric water pumps did not work. But the participants were not overcome by all these obstacles. Wrapped in coats and blankets their endured the cold temperatures they followed all the presentations attentively and displayed lively participation. The main focus of the workshop was on lessons that the child care givers will teach to the orphans and vulnerable children in the various forms of After School Programs of our organization. These lessons were presented to the participants by the members of our teaching team that was established last year. The presentations were done in a very captivating way. The lessons deal with four main challenges that the present South African society is faced with. Firstly, they deal with HIV prevention (as there are still 2000 girls and young women infected every week); secondly, they deal with child protection issues (as the rights of children are often neglected in South Africa). Thirdly the lessons deal with Gender Based Violence that affects many women in South Africa and fourthly they deal with stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV or PTB and the disabled. The second focus of the workshop was to give the participants an update on the diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis and HIV Infection and on Sexually Transmitted Infections and Family Planning. Like in previous years all participates had to undergo a test on Tuberculosis and HIV infection. Compared to the previous year the results improved by 6.8% to an average of...

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Interview with Kelebogile Ngobelanga

Jul 21, 2018 in Godisang Eng

Interview with Kelebogile Ngobelanga

This is an interview with Kelebogile Ngobelanga, one of the preschool teachers who benefitted from the Montessori Training during the last two years. The questions were asked by Christel Lorato Hermann. Kelebogile is on maternity leave until the middle of June. How do you feel being a mother now? What do you enjoy, what is difficult? Being a mother is so amazing and exciting because I get to see her grow every day and what I enjoy most is her company and her smile, but the difficult part of motherhood is all the sleepless nights. You have finished your Montessori Diploma training last year. How has this approach of Montessori influenced your attitude towards children and the bringing up of children? The Montessori approach has totally changed my attitude towards children and how they can be brought up. I have learned to trust the children that they are their main teachers (what Montessori called the ‘inner teacher’). I myself have to model the behaviour I want to see from the children. Do you think the African way of bringing up children and the Montessori approach can be reconciled, do they complement each other? If so, how? The African way of bringing up children is so different from the Montessori approach but I do think it is possible to reconcile the two; it needs teaching, workshops with parents. It’s a long way to go if only parents and society would listen and change. It would be necessary to implement changes from above (Department of Education) but at the same time from the grass root level. When you finished your Matric, what were your dreams and what did you hope to study? When I finished my Matric I had two things in mind, becoming a teacher or an accountant. I really wanted to be an accountant in a bank or a big company under finance. Things don’t always go as planned. How do you feel about having ended up in Montessori education? I feel very happy and very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to train as a Montessori teacher because Montessori education is not stereotyped and narrowed. I use my skills and knowledge not only in the classroom but in my life and that of my child. What are your plans for the future? I would like to further my studies and to own a Montessori preschool and to keep on implementing the Montessori method. Which of the Montessori principles do you find difficult to adhere to and why? Montessori often speaks about the discipline from within. That I find difficult to implement. Another important part of Montessori education is to be at the level of the child. Sometimes when children take advantage and try to overstep their boundaries, I am tempted to spank them and I find it difficult to be at their level now and then. Do you think Tsibogang is making a meaningful difference to the children in the Early Learning Centres? I definitely think it does make a meaningful difference in the Early Learning Centres to use the Montessori approach because children make their experiences in the Montessori environment, they develop skills children in a traditional way of education will not...

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Tsibogang Annual General Meeting

Jun 2, 2018 in Tshepanang Eng

Tsibogang Annual General Meeting

On 26 May 2018 Tsibogang members gathered for their Annual General Meeting at Lomanyane, next to the office of Tsibogang Christian Action Group. As in the years before the coordinator was silently asking himself the question: Will enough members turn up so that we will be able to form a quorum? Indeed we were close to 100 members who came together on a chilly Saturday morning. The meeting started rather late and therefore ended late. Mr. Links, the vice chairperson led us through a packed program whereby all action groups presented their achievements and their plans for the next financial year 2018/19. At times the chairperson of the day had to reprimand the members to listen and honour those who presented the reports but all in all the mood was relaxed and friendly. Here are some figures/achievements of the past year 2017 which were presented: Tshepanang the action group which teaches life lessons has reached 5196 students/learners in 21 Primary Schools and 6 Secondary Schools in 2017. This huge task was done by 52 trained Peer Educators. The Tlamelang Action Group reported the following: 2589 vulnerable children and orphans were visited at least four times per months and 357 guardians of these children received visits and support by our home care givers. In our After School Program 455 orphans and vulnerable children were helped with their home works and they received a warm meal. Out of this number 150 children wrote a Math test and 70% of those showed an improvement of 10 % and more. A debate started when the Tlamelang chairperson read that children coming late to the After school program should not be given food as a sort of punishment. The chairperson, Mrs. Theresa Mokgoro, did not accept this solution and asked if there are no other ways to solve the problem of late coming. After a lengthy debate it was finalized that punishing children by refusing to give them food should not be the order of the day in our centres; since we know that a big number of children need this meal to survive the day. Dr Hermann, the coordinator, presented the financial report and the budget for the new financial year: Both show that we need to trust in God to carry us through. The figures also showed that although we had to struggle here and there during the last financial year, we could see that God provided us with the necessary means to serve the people. At the end a new management committee was elected: Mr. Links, Mrs Theresa Mokgoro , Matumelo Rauter, who have served in this committee for a long time were re-elected, each action group appointed their representative, as well as each church having more than 5 members in Tsibogang. A big THANK YOU to all who made the work of Tsibogang Christian Action Group...

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Surprising demands

Apr 19, 2018 in Godisang Eng

Surprising demands

On the 2nd of February 2018 we received a letter from the South African Catholic Bishop’s Conference (SACBC). SACBC is our biggest donor organization that supports our NPO Tsibogang Christian Action Group currently with more than R 50,000 per month. In this letter SACBC indicated that their biggest donor organization Aurum Institute from the United States of America had advised them that if their did not meet 100% of their targets by March 2018 they would lose their funding from Aurum. This referred especially to the number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and their guardians that had to be tested for HIV. That’s why SACBC in their letter demanded from us that we have to ensure that by 26.02. we should have tested 1166 OVC and 370 guardians for HIV and that this has to be properly captured in our computerized program that is linked to SACBC. If we fail to meet this target we would not be given a new contract. In the contract with SACBC that we signed in October 2017 a total number of 1285 OVC and 420 guardians was mentioned that we need to give services to. However it was not specified how many of them had to be tested for HIV. HIV testing is just one of the services that we give to OVC and guardians. Other services include home visits, BMI Measurements, nutritionals education, TB screening , assistance with home work, lessons on HIV prevention, child protection, gender based violence and stigma and discrimination. Even referrals for access to social grants and for health problems are part of our services. In our written reply to the letter from SACBC we complained that it is unfair to give us such high targets in such a short period of time. We were however aware that SACBC would reply that this pressure is not coming from them but rather from Aurum Institute who regard the testing for HIV as the most important service. We therefore called for an emergency meeting of the Tlamelang Committee. In this meeting it was decided that despite the unfairness we should try by all means to meet the required targets. Itsholeng Moepi who coordinates our HIV testing services worked out a plan. Every day one ore even two campaigns were to be held in the nine regions of our project. At the time when we received the letter we had (since October 2017) tested only 482 children and 20 adults for HIV. It was impressive to see how all our care workers did their best to convince the guardians to consent to testing for their children and for themselves. Record numbers were tested especially in Majematsho where our ELC and After School Program Rebaone is situated and in Welbedacht where our After School Centre Emmanuel is situated. At both sites more than 100 OVC were tested. Fortunately in 2016 and 2017 more than twenty of our care givers completed their training in HIV testing. It was however a challenge to get a sufficient number of test kits on short notice. We received them from the clinics that we work together with. But it was not only about getting the HIV testing done. A even bigger challenge was to capture all the tests completely in the sophisticated computer program called ADS....

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News from Godisang

Mar 2, 2018 in Godisang Eng

News from Godisang

Since the middle of January, the preschools and the after school programs are back in full swing. We have taken in a number of new children and it is really exciting to see how they change.. In the beginning there was only crying in the preschool children when their mothers disappeared, now, after five weeks, most do not even turn around when their mothers disappear at the door. They are eager to discover something new. Interesting for us as educators is how the little ones from last year being now the “big ones” behave. Many things they had forgotten, and we have to show them the material again; but in the meantime we can ask them to show the smaller / newer children how to do it. There is also a lot to discover for us as educators: the basic rule is that children should be shown a material from beginning to end; the teacher goes with the child to the shelf, picks up the material and then shows him how it is used. When done, the material is returned to its location so that the child knows where the material is kept. The new kids are now extremely impatient, they want to work with it before the teacher has finished. In our monthly internal Montessori training, there was a long debate about: may the child take over? Or should she/he wait until the end, even if possibly the child loses interest working with the material? Another hot question was, what are we going to do with children who are not working, who just walk around in the room, at times, disturbing the working children or the expecting that the teachers work with them? Another Montessori principle is: The Three- hour-work cycle e.g. there are no meals during this time, no morning circle or story read, but every child seeks his/her work. This is very important, because without this you cannot find out if children are really working independently (in Montessori means, the child is normalized ). Of course, it will take a while for the new children to work for three hours on their own initiative. But it’s great to see how long children can work. In Godisang, there is a two year old boy who wipes tables every day, sweeps, puts the chairs on the tables and then brings them down again. A huge job for a two year old. He is doing it because he does not want to sleep like the other children. In two of our afternoon programs for the schoolchildren we have for the first time children who have also been in our preschool .They come proudly with their books and show us what they can already write. Azania is one of them. She was the first in the preschools to assemble the Africa...

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An Easy Yoke for 2018

Feb 3, 2018 in Tlamelang Eng

An Easy Yoke for 2018

23 Tlamelang members together with Wolfgang and Christel Hermann had the privilege to start the year 2018 with a retreat. Like last year we traveled to the Hartebeesport Dam and stayed in the Haphororo Retreat Center. The topic of the retreat was “The Easy Yoke” that was taken from Mathew 11, 28-30. Before Jesus encourages his listeners to take up his yoke he invites them to lay down their burdens: “Come to me all who are burdened and worn out…” That’s why the first day of our retreat was dedicated to the theme “Laying down our burdens”. Together we discussed what kinds of burden we have to carry in our lives. Then everyone was given the opportunity to reflect on his/her personal burdens and to share them with one other person during a one to one counseling session. During the evening prayer we were invited to pray at the cross and to hand over all our burdens to Jesus. On the following day we focused on the questions what it means in our present life situation to take up the yoke of Jesus. Christel Hermann emphasized in her bible study that was based on Mathew 16, 21-26 that we must not believe the many preachers who want to make us believe that a good Christian does not have to suffer. God allows hardships to come our way. The participants even went deeper into this insight through a personal meditation on Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane (Mathew 26,36-46). What does it mean for our life style, for the way we relate to other people and for the way we deal with hardships when we make Jesus’ prayer our own “yet not as I will but as you will”? After the time of meditation there was a time of very personal sharing regarding these questions in two groups. The regular morning and evening devotions that were conducted in Taizé stile by the Haphororo team were an additional help for the participants to come to themselves and to God during this retreat. Apart from the biblical topics three session on “stigma and discrimination” were held that were facilitated by Itsholeng Moepi and Dimakatso Ikaneng. The hike in the nearby mountains turned out to be a very special experience for most of the participants. For many of them it was the first hike in their life and they were very proud that they did not only master the strenuous path but that they were also able to cross a torrential river for two times. On Friday when we held the feedback session many participants expressed their gratefulness for the days of the retreat that they had experienced. They also strongly indicated that they wished to come back to Haphororo next year. Wolfgang...

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An internship in South Africa

Dec 22, 2017 in Tshepanang Eng

An internship in South Africa

Dear friends and donors, this is last blog of 2017 which was written by Ruth Maria Kasper, our volunteer from Germany who spent the last three months with us. She has left already for Germany. We thank all of you for your support, your donations, thoughts and prayers for the work of Tsibogang. We are fully aware that without your support we would have not made it. We are still amazed that there is even money in the Tsibogang account although we really had a tough time in between. We wish all of you a blessed Christmas and a good start into the year 2018, may God bless you ! Christel & Wolfgang Hermann Report of Ruth Maria Kasper The first question people ask me here is when they hear that I am from Germany: “Oh, how much do you like South Africa? Is it different to Germany? “And my answer is always:” It is a totally different world but I like it! ” My three-month internship here in South Africa at Tsibogang Christian Action Group started on September 20 and ends on December 16, 2017. Three months is a quarter of a year, but in the end it felt like two weeks. Time is flying! During the three months, I lived with Hermanns and Undine Rauter in the community in Mafikeng and felt very well and protected. It was a good feeling to be able to return to a place where I felt safe and secure on days when I did not feel well. I came to South Africa because I wanted to see the world from a different perspective. Sometimes I found it frightening and it made me think to see under what conditions people live in the villages. A family of six could live in corrugated iron huts or in two-room houses, sometimes without water or electricity. Our standards in Germany (always running hot water, electricity and a good school education) are a luxury for many people here. At times it really embarrassed me and made me feel guilty about my privileged life at home in Germany. Most of my time spent in South Africa I worked in one of Tsibogang’s two Early Learning Centers. In the mornings, the kindergarten took place there with about 30 children, who get breakfast and lunch there. They learn according to the Montessori pedagogy in which they are also begin learning how to write. It was impressive to see with how much focus and how independently the children worked. Learning with all the senses and promoting autonomous learning and discovery through the Montessori education is very impressive and helps the children really well. When the kids were picked up at lunchtime, after school, the schoolchildren came to the after school program, where we did math lessons with them. I mainly taught the fifth graders (around 10 children) and practiced multiplication with them. The joy of the students, when they were told that they had calculated the task correctly, was very touching and you could see that they had a lot of fun with arithmetic because of their success. But it is still shocking to see that fifth and sixth graders cannot perform simple multiplication, but rather count by using their fingers or a sheet of paper. The first week of...

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Fighting stigma and discrimination

Nov 28, 2017 in Tshepanang Eng

Fighting stigma and discrimination

We sent an application for funding to the Premier’s Office of the North-West Province in September. That application made them aware about our organization and they brought us in contact with Soul City, an organization that is well known in South Africa for its movies and media involvement tackling issues around HIV. When the representatives of Soul City came to assess our organization, they were impressed that we have so many peer educators and care givers and that we have sound financial management systems in place. They told us that they were tasked by the South African National AIDS Council to partner with organizations with strong links to the local communities who would help them to fight stigma and discrimination especially directed against those who live with HIV but even against other groups like foreigners and homosexuals. We know from our experience that stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV is still wide spread in the communities we serve. The result is that people delay going for HIV testing and those who were tested positive are hesitant to disclose their results even to their closest relatives. Many of them avoid going the clinic to start the life- saving Antiretroviral Treatment because they fear what people will say about them more than they fear death. That’s why we welcomed the opportunity to engage in a fresh attempt to fight stigma and discrimination. We sent a strong team to become the ambassadors and master trainers for the unfolding multipronged campaigns. Itsholeng Moepi, who is currently the Deputy Chairperson of our support group Amogelang and is in charge for the support group of children living with HIV; Dimakatso Ikaneng, our new project manager in Tlamelang and Jasmine Mathews, our financial manager were trained for one week in Randburg by Soul City officials in the second week of October. They came back full of enthusiasm and were eager to pass on what they had learnt to those who are supposed to become community mobilizers. We identified in total 27 of our members from all three Action Groups to undergo this training giving preference to those who live with HIV and can openly talk about it. The training of the community mobilizers now took place from 22.11. to 24.11. 2017 at Gasteplaas outside Mahikeng. It gave our members a deeper insight in the mechanisms that lead to stigma and discrimination in our communities. They are now tasked to identify “hot spots” where stigmatization and discrimination is rife in their local communities and to engage with the relevant stakeholders in order to find ways to address these issues. The “hot spots” may include a school, a local shebeen or even a church. We are happy that Soul City has signed a contract with our organization and that their payments even include a stipend for the community mobilizers. With this stipend our members can make up for the losses that they had to endure due to the poor funding by the South African Bishops Conference and the National Lottery...

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