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MasiMail - September 2008


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The Masi Mail - A Newsletter for the Friends of Masiphumelele

September 2008


Masiphumelele leads in reconciliation

Many of you told us you had seen the riots of June in South Africa reported in the US press. The wave of immigrants arriving in South African townships (like Masiphumelele) from many of the failed states of Africa has led to resentment from a local population competing for jobs. Riots broke out all over the country almost simultaneously and foreigners were attacked and evicted; often their shacks were burned. Masiphumelele fugitives from the violence fled to Soetwater, an open stretch of land on the peninsula, where they waited for help from the government or the UN. After the initial night of violence, some prominent Masi citizens met and resolved to visit the Soetwater camp to invite back any Masi residents who had fled for their lives. This example of leadership and reconciliation was widely quoted in the South African press and we are very proud of Masi’s leadership in this crisis.

Rodney Ndyalvan in Masiphumelele writes:
Thursday night: relatively minor trouble in Masi following evacuation of foreigners by police - mostly young drunken ‘tsotsis’ taking advantage of the situation and looting.
Friday: Yandiswa Mazwane, community leader, mobilises other leaders for peace rally; Leaders address packed community hall at 6pm; vociferous support expressed for foreigners (”we want them in 2010, why not now?”), wonderful prayer, singing, and candlelit vigil (featured on eTV news Sat night). Tangible sense of calm restored on leaving at 7pm. NO TROUBLE AT ALL IN MASI ON FRIDAY NIGHT.

Saturday: community leaders hold two follow up meetings, first to allow their community to voice any concerns. Quite apparent this is not evidence of xenophobia, but rather persistent economic stress (NB no force was used against foreigners in Masi). 2nd meeting of all community structures made a plan to restore righteous order…

Sat night: joint community and police effort to recover all stolen property by going door to door. Involving everyone. Street committees re-empowered, Masi pride restored.

Sun morning: people still spontaneously bringing stuff back. All taken to Ocean View police station for safekeeping.
Sun afternoon: Premier arrives to congratulate Masi community leaders. Deputation take memo to Soetwater to read to refugees to invite them back home. More than 70 people welcomed back to Masi with a KFC supper in the late evening.

Sam Pearce, volunteer co-ordinator, adds: Note this was a community initiated effort. Masi leaders should be praised for doing on Friday what Mbeki did not have the courage to do - stand up and say “This is not acceptable here. We condemn it, and we will act immediately to make amends.” We should be proud of them.


Indaba StudentsCareers Indaba

Sue Alexander reports that this successful 10 day event was held in the July holidays and was attended by 40 high school pupils. It was a joint partnership between Masiphumelele Library and World Teach volunteers who are all American college students. It was coordinated by Rachel Bray, Sue Alexander, Seni Nqindi, Ndileka Biyo and Linda Bisset.

The teenagers experienced an interactive and informative program helping them chose a career and discover what is available for their career paths. Role models were invited to share their experiences and what came through again and again was the importance of aligning career choice with personal passions.The young people had time for tutoring sessions with the volunteers interspersed with games to create a relaxed atmosphere. The students asked the speakers many questions.

As one student said:

" I enjoyed everything about Career Indaba. It is such a wonderful project. We learn most suitable stuff which we didn't know about. I spent my wonderful time on something which builds me up."

At the end of the indaba the 40 students were given a certificate of completion; it was a huge success which we hope to repeat next year. Nothing is more important than finding a job and any help MASICORP can give is invaluable.


Nceba promised funding for the Community Sports Program

As part of the transformation of MASICORP, we have been seeking funding for our Sports Programs. Katherine Donkin has been working with Sports Coach Nceba Jonase to obtain Non Profit Organization status for our Community Sports program and has succeeded in obtaining about $4,000 from local authorities.

Football Team 1

Meanwhile Katherine sends in this report:

Nceba's two netball teams, two boys and two girls soccer teams, two volley ball teams and one rugby team recently played a school from Kraaifontein. The games were meant to start at 9.30 but the visitors only arrived there at 12.15. However, a good time seems to have been had by all, there certainly was a very festive spirit and Ukhanyo more or less won everything.

Meanwhile netball league is going incredibly well and every Wednesday (as long as there is no rain) matches are played.

Volley ball is being played in a league set up, and there have been a few soccer matches but not as regularly as we hoped - schools continue to be so vague in their replies.

I think one could say that the sports program is really going well - it's very much African style but nevertheless it's there and the children are involved and enjoying it.

Sadly, our School Sports Program at the Ukhanyo School remains un-funded as the Education Department cannot afford to underwrite it. If no source of funding ($10,000 per year) is found, the Ukhanyo School Sports Program will die at the end of 2008.


Exhibits from Art Project 2008 in the LibraryMasiphumelele Art Project 2008


The Michaelis School of Art, Masiphumelele Library, Masiphumelele High School and the community of Masiphumelele entered into a very exciting partnership this year. The 3rd year sculpture students from the Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town were asked to design artwork for a public space – conceptually and physically appropriate to the environment and the community.

Masiphumelele Library and the park were chosen as the space and a meeting was set up with the staff, students and teachers from the High School (where Art is now a subject.)

The High School art students were invited to the Art School to see the work in progress, tour the facilities and attend a talk on art as a career. The highlight was a workshop on relief sculpting in cast plaster.

he Exhibition opened at Masiphumelele Library in August and was an enriching experience for all.


A couple of comments from the residents:

“ This is the way to express oneself and to express the inner feelings of a person without saying a word. It expresses the real African!! “

“We really appreciate you guys by bringing the art in our library especially in our community because the young generation can learn a lot since they have not enough things to do, so I think this can help them a lot and can change some of their minds to take art as their career and even those who are not at school and not working, they can be encouraged by the exhibition like these so we can be very glad if you can keep on doing something like this in our community and I think crime can reduce. Thank you”


Nmonde and her back shacks MasiphumeleleNomonde’s apartments


We lent Nomonde Vokozela money so she could replace four shacks with two small concrete block flats behind her Habitat-built house.

The entire project was completed in four weeks! Nomonde found that renting the units at considerably above shack rates was easy given the high housing demands in the township. Four very flammable, leaky, uncomfortable shacks have been replaced by sound, comfortable rooms, and Nomonde will be able to pay off the loan with the rental fees in three years.

We had hoped to continue our much larger program replacing shacks with concrete houses and attached flats with communal bathrooms.


Jill at Nomonde's new flatsBank lending impediments have proven frustratingly insurmountable, while construction costs have risen fast. So, while this project is much smaller in scale, and has an outhouse bathroom, it’s possible that it can be duplicated on other sites


Pictured left and right - Before and after; Nomonde outside her shacks and Jill Stirrup outside the apartments that replaced them.





WordWorks - the children with their 'Hero' booksAs many of you know, one of the most successful programs in the library is WordWorks run for pre-primary children by Shelley O’Connell and others. Through getting to know the participants in the project, they have come to recognize the resilience of those children and families who have experienced loss, violence and trauma.

They run a ‘hero book’ program to give children and parents opportunities to tell their stories. This course has been running very successfully this year with one Grade 3 class and two Grade 6 classes from Ukhanyo. The children write and illustrate their own books with themselves as the hero. The children love the program which gives them insight into themselves and helps them cope better with problems.

Here you see some of the youngsters holding their autobiographical “hero books”.


Ndileka with clothes Ndileka and her dressmaking business


Jane and Eric Philippi invited their friends Maureen and Doug to South Africa. Little did they know they would spend part of their time cleaning out a garage building to provide a workshop for Ndileka and her dressmaking business.

Now with more space Ndileka has room for others to work with her. She's hired one woman and is looking for another. Here is Ndileka with one of of her latest fashions for Masi ladies.


Doreen’s creche redecorated


We received an email from Doreen telling us that she now is on email. It seems a long time ago that we sat in her shack and imagined the day care center we would build for her. Recently a group of young volunteers from Ireland (see picture at right) came to Masi and redecorated Doreen’s crèche with bright imaginative designs.


Irish Students in front of the new creche paintwork

Sponsorship for Njobe

One day last March, we were approached by a teacher at the Ukhanyo School who was looking for funding to return to college to receive an honors degree in Education. After our due diligence and searching for a sponsor, here he is with his fourth grade class introducing his new sponsor, Justice Linda Dobbs, a British High Court Judge. On the right is Polly Saul who will be Njobe’s mentor (every scholar must have one) when he attends CPUT part time starting in January.

Linda, Njobe and Polly





Library addition

In March 2009 there will be two big milestones for the Masiphumelele Library. First we will announce that the current library is funded for ten years so it can continue all the community programs that it offers now.



The current library from the empty lot where we hope to build an extension.Second we will announce that we are taking over the lot next door (see picture at right) which is currently leased to Habitat for Humanity. We hope to build another extension to the overcrowded library. The new building would include a quiet study area, study rooms and an activities area for the young children.

Each of these (endowment and new building) cost about $150,000. We have enough funding for one and want to do both. We are talking to a local South African Organization that might cover half of the new extension. We need to raise the other $75,000 to match the contribution of the local people (which feels very appropriate).


Homework in the Library


Homework Classes


Homework classes were started in the middle of this year for primary school children who have graduated from the Wordworks reading enrichment classes. The children are helped with their homework and also do exercises and games to improve their reading, math and writing skills. Bridget Stoddart is running the class and is assisted by volunteers from the African Impact volunteer program.


Transformation of MASICORP


As many of you know, we set ourselves the objective of handing over our work to South Africans by the end of our tenth year of MASICORP. That moment arrives at our Annual Meeting which will take place in Masiphumelele on Tuesday March 17 2009.

We have many details to work out what we mean exactly when we say that MASICORP will move from being a US-led organization to a South African-led organization. In general, any programs which are not self-sufficient in both management and funding must either cease or find their own funding.

We (the current Board, John and Carol Thompson, Jane Philippi) will retain oversight of all the programs but will not manage the day-to-day nor will we make the tactical decisions (which sports, which students for scholarships, what building projects). Those decisions will be made by the South African volunteers most of whom have worked with us for years.

That doesn’t mean that we need not watch over it and it does not mean that they will not need your (and our) financial support. If the work of the last ten years and your support of it is to make a lasting difference then local people must take it over. We will continue to work very hard to make sure we have thought through all the details of this transformation.

For those of you with an interest in investing in the successes of the past ten years, please don’t go away!



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