Iizidima from Canada

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Jim and Paul

Universities in South Africa can accommodate 18% of graduating high school students each year. Of the 18% who are accepted, half drop out during their first year. Many students from township high schools are not academically prepared for university, not to mention the financial challenges of funding tertiary education. Too many students drop out for no reason other than insufficient food.

Paul is a success story, but until recently only had R200 ($20.00) a month for food after paying for his accommodation (there are no student residences at TSiBA University). We met Paul 2 years ago and now use a portion of your donations to supplement his food budget with an additional R800 per month ($80.00). Paul is so appreciative…

Paul is from Soweto (Johannesburg) and worked for a few years after high school before recognizing that he needed further education. He selected TSiBA College for disadvantaged youth. Academic credentials are less important for acceptance at TSiBA than a positive attitude and healthy work ethic. Paul defied the odds and his academic performance has exceeded anyone’s expectations. After 2 years at TSiBA college, Paul is now attending TSIBA University in Cape Town studying Business Administration!

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Robin & Janet

June is the month when learners start applying to universities for the 2016 academic year. Robin is has been anxiously awaiting the month of June so he may start this process! Robin’s home situation is highly dysfunctional, hence he moved into one of Penny & Ella’s Safehouses in February. Staying at the Safehouse means Robin is now eating properly and living in a healthy environment. Robin has been busy seeking temporary employment in Knysna and recently started tutoring the younger children who live with Ella. Your donations allow us to fund the cost of food and other essential items for Robin.

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Pride (Zimbabwe – A Levels) and Simbulele (Knysna – grade 11)

As part of her Masters in Science degree in guidance and counselling, Janis Kay Dobizl published: Understanding At-Risk Youth and Intervention Programs That Help Them Succeed in School.

“The assumption that youth-at-risk are incapable of learning and/or do not care about anything is a fallacy. They long for adults who are willing to make the effort to understand them and who will provide them the acceptance and guidance they need.  …the at-risk child’s message is this – Don’t give up on me.”

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Great news! Jim maintains contact with the vice-principal of the high school which most of the youth gang members attend and the signed TRUCE continues to hold. As one of the teachers conveyed to Jim just a few days ago, “there is no more fighting”.

Jim has also been busy researching proven mentorship programs and strategies which may have applicability in South Africa. One such program was developed in Chicago and focuses on character development and violence reduction among inner-city male youth in grades 7 to 10. The program has been studied extensively by the University of Chicago and demonstrates a 44% reduction in violent-crime arrests and increased school engagement. Jim has been in contact with the program’s operations manager.

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Ace

Ace is thoroughly enjoying his first year at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University where he is studying to become a high school teacher. Well done, Ace. None of this would be possible without the longstanding support of Ace’s sponsor from Alberta Canada.  Dorothy is an elderly friend and former veterinary client of Janet’s who has generously been helping Ace since he was in grade 11. Thank you for believing in Ace, Dorothy.

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Melvin – age 15

Essentials or Luxury Items? The most common items which particularly disadvantaged youth sometimes lack are soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, underwear, and school shoes. When there is insufficient money for food, items like soap and underwear are not priorities. Jim always has soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes in the trunk of his car.

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Janet with grade 10-11 physics study group

NY Times (January 2015): Closing the Math Gap for Boys

The teenagers in Chicago’s math-tutoring-on-steroids experiment fit this dismal profile. They were as many as seven years behind in reading and 10 in math — 16-year-olds with the skills of third graders. The previous year they missed more than a month of school, on average, and when they did make an appearance they were often banished to the school disciplinarian. Nearly a fifth of them had arrest records. Not only were they disproportionately likely to drop out, they were also prime candidates for the school-to-gang-to-prison pipeline.

After just a single year in Chicago’s intensive tutoring and mentoring program, known as Match, participants ended up as much as two years ahead of students in a control group who didn’t get this help. It also led them to become more engaged in school, and they were 60 percent less likely than members of the control group to be arrested for a violent crime.

“What this shows is, don’t ever throw the towel in on the kids,” the mayor said last March. What’s happening in Chicago shows that, without breaking the bank, the lives of adolescents can be turned around.”

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Clarke misses South Africa!