Pride & Daniel – Zimbabwe

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Janet (old), Pride (18), Jim (older), Daniel (19)

Yesterday was a very special day for us. Pride and Daniel arrived in Knysna for a 1 week visit, following their 40 hour bus trip from Zimbabwe! We last saw Daniel in December 2013, but have not seen Pride since he was 16.

This is Pride’s first time outside of Zim and his more experienced travel companion, Daniel,  did a wonderful job enlightening Pride along their journey. Daniel will stay with his brother, Phillip, and Pride is staying with us.

Pride and Daniel both commence the 2nd and final year of their Advanced Levels in Zimbabwe mid January 2015.

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This photo was taken moments after Pride read a copy of the letter of introduction he originally handed us when we met for the first time in Zimbabwe. That was 4 years ago at the side of a train when Pride was only 14 years old.

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Thulani

Tutoring Works…

Thulani and Junior are just 2 of the youth Janet has been tutoring in Math since 2013. Both were on the verge of failing when they met Janet, however their final results in December 2014 reflected a code 6 (70-80%) for Thulani and code 7 (80-90%) for Junior! While grades of this nature may not be uncommon in many parts of the world, code 6 and 7 in math would put the boys at the very TOP of their class in their respective schools.

Some of the new youth with whom we are working…

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Bronwell (16) and his mother, Iris.

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Ehrll (16)

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Ryno (15)

Overcast and raining this morning in Knysna, however it is about 22C. Compared to Zimbabwe, Pride finds it cold!

Khayamandi Changes Lives

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L to R: Kudzai’s 16 year old brother, Junior, and Kudzai

The Khayamandi Foundation of Augusta, Georgia just changed another life!

Kudzai is one of the most hard working, determined, and impressive young men we have had the pleasure to know. He is 19 years old and just graduated high school here in Knysna. He ranked among the top 5 students in his high school class and was accepted at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) to commence studying in January 2015.

In 2013 he received a ZAR 45,000 bursary after winning a National public speaking contest in South Africa. (www.edenexpress.co.za/articles/articledetails.aspx?mode=news&id=96162) However, the annual cost of attending Stellenbosch is              ZAR 90,000 and Kudzai does not qualify for government student loans or academic bursaries since he is from Zimbabwe and is not a citizen of South Africa.

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Kurt Malzer (Khayamandi Foundation), Kudzai Sibanda

In November 2014, Jim introduced Kurt Malzer and Kevin Glass of the Khayamandi Foundation to Kudzai while they were here in Knysna working on a township project. Both were duly impressed.

Yesterday, Jim received a call from the United States with the life-changing news that the Khayamandi Foundation will provide a ZAR 45,000 bursary to Kudzai. His dream of becoming university educated has become a reality!

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Kurt Malzer, Ben (studies computer science at University of the Western Cape)

Along with Ben and Ntokozo, Kudzai is now the 3rd deserving youth whose education is being sponsored through Khayamandi.

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Ntokozo (attends Oakhill private school, Knysna – grade 9)

THANK YOU to our good friends at the Khayamandi Foundation.

Christmas in South Africa

Spayathon Rheenendal_2012 03 18_1313  This will be our 2nd Christmas in Knysna and it is one of the few times we find ourselves longing to be back in Canada. We have good friends here and will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with some who also have no family in Knysna, but seeing many South African families enjoying a Xmas braai (BBQ) does make us long for our family and friends in Canada.

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Pride (18 years old)

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Daniel (19 years old)

Most of you are familiar with how we met a 14 year old youth at the side of a train in Zimbabwe 4 years ago. His father and mother died when he was 6 and 7 years old respectively and he wanted to attend a better school. Within 6 months we arranged for Pride to attend a boarding school in Zimbabwe and he will soon commence his final year of A levels.

The BIG news is that Pride is scheduled to visit us in South Africa right after Xmas. we have not seen him in 2 years and this will be his first time outside of Zimbabwe. He will be travelling with Daniel who is in the same year of high school as Pride and whose brother works in Knysna. We met Daniel last December here in Knysna and he is an equally impressive young man. Having made the 42 HOUR trip from Zimbabwe to Knysna, South Africa once before, Daniel will be able to show Pride how it is done!

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Simbulele (18 years old)

3 more youth started part or full-time summer jobs this past week, including Simbulele at a car wash, Lumko as a restaurant waiter, and Wanga at a Hotel.

IMG_1555In one of our previous posts, we introduced you to Thiso (grade 9). This is where Thiso  lives with his Mother, Elizabeth.

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This is the neatest shack I have ever seen, and says plenty about Thiso’s Mom. It is spotless, however the rear wall and a section of the roof leaks whenever it rains. Leaks are a common problem with informal housing or shacks. IMG_1543

While Pride and Daniel (the 2 youth from Zimbabwe) don’t know this yet, Jim has committed them to help him and Thiso waterproof the leaking wall during their visit to Knysna !!  It will be fun.

Merry Christmas everyone. Janet & Jim

Knysna is a holiday town

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Siyabonga (grade 10)

Knysna becomes a particularly busy holiday town from mid-December until early January with throngs of South African tourists travelling here for the Christmas holidays. Many South Africans from Cape Town, Johannesburg, and more distant parts of the country own vacation homes in Knysna and gather with friends and family each December. Tourists, in particular from the UK and Europe, start arriving in January.

The town is busy, busy, and this means summer job opportunities for students. Many of the youth we know are working at their first summer job this December. This is a BIG deal in a country with 50% youth unemployment. Siyabonga (photo) just started at a boat dealership, Lumko is working as a waiter, Masi & Simbulele have job interviews today, Zamela works at a car wash, Mazwi was hired Saturday at Fruit N Veg, Chester was hired as a busboy, Thomas, Nolu, Paul, and many others are also working during the holidays.

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While some of our tutoring and mentorship programs break for 1 or 2 weeks over Xmas, this provides an opportunity to focus on individual youth and one-on-one mentorship.

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Thiso

Stemming from our previous blog post, we now have sponsorship for school lunch for Thiso!! Thank you, thank you.

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Ben

Thanks to ongoing sponsorship from the Khayamandi Foundation of Athens, Georgia, Ben just received a new Dell computer! Ben commences his 2nd year of Computer Science at the University of the Western Cape and the used laptop we provided 2 years ago is no longer up to the task. Thank you to all the kind-hearted individuals of Khayamandi.

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L to R: Sea-un (age 17), Cha-Chee (age 14), Melvin (age 15)

Jim’s work with a group of street youth is yielding slow, but steady, results. The focus on cleanliness resulted in 3 MUCH cleaner young guys when they arrived for our most recent roadside meeting. We meet at the corner of a petrol station parking lot, despite security people always trying to move the boys along. Our friend Penny drove by during a recent meeting and had quite the chuckle seeing Jim sitting on the ground in front of the 6 boys. I’m sure a photo will surface one of these days!

Merry Christmas to all, and thank you to everyone who continues to follow our blog and support our initiatives with youth in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

School’s Out

IMG_1476Final exams ended last week and the summer holidays for students extend until mid-January. While most of our tutoring and mentorship programs continue with the exception of 1 week over Xmas, we are also helping the older youth find summer jobs and assisting with issues pertaining to their university and financial aid applications.

Sadly…2 of our favourite young guys departed Knysna and will not be returning. Kudzai (just completed grade 12) and his 16 year-old brother Junior returned to Zimbabwe a few days ago to spend time with their parents before returning to South Africa in January to, hopefully, continue their studies in Cape Town. Kudzai and Junior are very special guys with whom we have become very close and there were a few tearful eyes shortly after this photo was taken…

Kudzai has been accepted at Stellenbosch University and Junior plans to attend a junior college close to where Kudzai will be studying.

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Aphiwe

Aphiwe just completed grade 12 and is losing his best friend and study partner, Kudzai, as Aphiwe will attend university 16 or so hours away from Kudzai who will be in Cape Town. Cell phones are vital for youth to be able to secure summer jobs and be contacted by the universities where they have applied. Aphiwe’s phone ceased working and this is the replacement we were able to provide due to his Ottawa sponsor.

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While the challenge of helping street youth who lack food, shoes, or wish to return to school or find employment is daunting, the dire circumstances of some of these young boys is difficult to ignore. Two of the boys in this photo are 14, one is 15, and one 17. None have attended school for 1-2 years. With no employed family members to provide proper food or school uniforms, or a stable environment, life very difficult and offers little hope. Jim started working with these boys 2 weeks ago after being introduced to them by our friends Ella and Penny and we are slowing making some progress. The first challenge is cleanliness and the boys have been provided with bars of soap and toothbrushes/toothpaste and each week receive their next assignment! They are very pleasant boys to deal with.

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Thiso – age 15 at the Knysna Sailing Club. Thiso attends a predominantly white church in the town of Knysna and a member of the congregation arranged for him to have access to free sailing lessons each week.

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Thiso – just completed grade 9

Thiso is 15 years old and lives alone with his single Mom in the cleanest and best organized shack we have ever seen. His father is absent from his life and he has no siblings. His Mom is an impressive lady whose job only provides 4 hours of work per day. Life is tough and too often there is insufficient food or no electricity. Shacks never have running water. When he was younger, Thiso used to play with the children of the family for whom his Mom worked as a Domestic (cleaning lady) and, as a result, he speaks beautiful English. If you would like to sponsor Thiso at a cost of $15.00 CDN per month to enable him to purchase lunch (meat sandwich) each day at school, kindly let us know. Like far too many youth, Thiso goes without lunch at school. As he would tell you, hunger is physically painful and makes it very difficult to concentrate at school.