Poverty, Education, & Health

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Many people still live in shacks, otherwise known as ‘informal settlements’, while they await a government provided concrete block home. Assuming an individual or family earns below the income threshold and are a citizen of South Africa, they will qualify for a free, government-provided RDP house.

The population of Knysna is approximately 68,000. According to a recent report, there are 9,600 people on the waiting list for an RDP home. The acting municipal manager confirmed that one family has been waiting since August 2004.

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Left: Ryno Right: Acona

Ryno and Acona both dropped out of school in 2014 while in grade 8. Ryno is 15 years old and Acona is 16. Ryno is unable to read. While investigating options for Acona to return to school last week, Acona revealed to Jim that he was unable to read. This was the first time Acona admitted this to anyone and, when Jim & Acona shared this news with Acona’s mother, she indicated that she had no idea her son could not read. You may recall that in 2014 we removed another youth from school at the age of 19 (Chester) when it was determined that he was also unable to read.

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Acona – just after clothes shopping (thanks to his American sponsor)

Jim took Acona and Ryno for literacy testing last Friday and both are reading at a grade 1 level. The boys will now attend an adult literacy program each Friday from 8am to 3pm and Janet is preparing a CV for Acona, such that he and Jim can search for employment.

If you reside in the Knysna area and have a temporary or permanent job opportunity at your home or business, Acona has a wonderful attitude, work ethic and is extremely punctual and reliable.

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Janet and Somila (grade 9)

Meet Janet’s latest English student, Somila, a grade 9 learner at Percy Mdala High School.

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The cost of food and electricity in South Africa is similar to North America or Europe. Statistics South Africa reports the following:

Extreme poverty is defined as a household of 5 living on under R11 ($1.00 USD) a day. 20% of South Africans live in extreme poverty.

Just over 40% of the population lives in moderate poverty, defined as a family of 5 living on R22 a day ($2.00 USD). So…60% live in moderate to extreme poverty and many live in sub-standard housing, the vast majority of whom are black.

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Thank you to Chris Walter and Larry Wurn for their donations of reading glasses. These are just 2 of the ladies who Janet recently assisted with much-needed eyeglasses. Note the broken piece of mirror in Janet’s right hand.

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Your Donations…

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Your donations recently enabled us to take 2 youth to private doctors for much-needed medical attention. One youth, age 18, was seen by a family physician regarding an issue which had been distracting him at school and causing serious anxiety for over a year.

The second youth tearfully revealed to Jim that he lost hearing in 1 ear around age 6 and, while he told his parents when he was 11, he was only attended to by a nurse. No one knew that the boy was still deaf in one ear (and only has 90% hearing in the good ear).

Jim booked an appointment with an ENT specialist 2 days later (imagine seeing an ENT in 2 days without a referral !) and the boy was examined, hearing tested, and he is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow morning which will be paid by the public health system. The boy finally told his parents about his hearing loss and Jim subsequently met with Mom & Dad to answer their questions. The youth now understands the need to protect the hearing in his right ear and be assessed once per annum.

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Wanga (age 20)

Wanga recently graduated from Percy Mdala High School near the top of his class and was accepted at the University of the Western Cape to study Computer Science, the same university where Ben just commenced his 2nd year in computer science! Last week we put Wanga in touch with Ben and they have become good friends. There is no father in Wanga’s life, and his mother passed away in 2013. Jim met Wanga in early 2014 while assisting Wanga in his role as President of Rotaract (youth Rotary) at his high school.

Until next week…Janet & Jim.

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