Three Steps Forward

Janet at Percy Mdala High School

Janet’s study groups are thriving, with attendance at all-time highs. After-school tutoring includes English, math, and science from Monday to Thursday, and university planning sessions on Fridays.

Penny at Percy Mdala High School

Penny N, our Canadian friend, devotes 2 days a week to Janet’s study groups during her annual stay in South Africa. Penny’s role continues to expand each year and she has become a valuable resource and colleague to Janet.

Penny at Percy Mdala High School

With Janet and Penny working together, the Percy Mdala study group has expanded to include 15 learners. Noticeably absent are Ntokozo, Sibongakonke, and Khanyisa, each of whom completed high school in 2018 and commenced university 1 month ago!

Don (far right) with the guys – January 2019.

Six weeks ago our friend, Kurt (Khayamandi Foundation board member), visited Knysna from America. Accompanying Kurt was a friend and business colleague, Don S, whose donations to Khayamandi directly benefit a young man we have known since grade 11 and who completes his undergraduate university degree in 2019.

Don (rear-centre) with the guys – January 2019.

This was Don’s first trip to the African continent. While in Knysna, Jim toured Don through the former townships and introduced him to members of 2 of the 5 groups who signed the December 2018 Peace Agreement. As the boys guided Don through their community, they were able to chat.

Jim with the guys (photo by Don) – January 2019.

Now that we have peace, a void has been created. The time previously devoted to fighting needs to be filled and the boys helped convince Don that soccer could be a healthy part of the solution. Discussions were initiated with a soccer coach Jim met in November and a proposal was submitted to Don. Long story short…Don generously provided the necessary funding. The coach has been retained and 2-3 boys from each of 5 groups have been selected to attend an upcoming soccer clinic designed to launch the program.

Coop meeting students on Day 1 of the Basic Carpentry Skills program – February 1, 2019.

Our friend Coop is from America and spends 3 months each year in South Africa. Coop runs a basic carpentry skills program on 9 consecutive Fridays for boys 15-21 years of age, most of whom ceased attending school in grades 7 or 8. This year, 8 of the 15 boys are members of the groups who signed the December Peace Agreement. Coop is being assisted again this year by our Canadian friend, Don C.

Coop instructing the 2018 class.

Jim recruits the students during November-December, and Coop and Don develop the program and provide the training. Coop and Don deliver an outstanding program, and the young guys absolutely love it. Breakfast and lunch are included, which means ample quantities of fresh food personally prepared by Coop and Don!

Three steps forward…Much has been accomplished, but not all is positive.

Sadly, the 17 year-old boy in the above photo was stabbed and killed on February 3, 2019. His death was not gang-related, hence the Peace Agreement was not compromised. Junior, as he was known to his many friends, is fondly remembered and will not be forgotten.

February 19, 2019

Peace prevails, but there was a hiccup. 

Earlier this week, there was an altercation between a lone boy from one group and 8 boys from another. The single boy apparently did not want to give way to 8 boys walking abreast towards him. The first time, the 8 boys parted and let him pass. Later the same day, the single boy held his ground and pushed 1 of the 8 to the side. The 8 guys beat him.

The next day, the single boy gathered some of his friends and initiated a revenge fight against the 8. One positive aspect is that neither fight involved knives.

February 19, 2019

The day after the revenge fight both groups of boys were ready to talk and wanted to restore peace. Jim drove the 4 boys responsible for the revenge fight to the hangout of the group of 8, and there we met with approximately 20 of their members.

The atmosphere was initially tense, but slowly progress was made. These photos depict the process as it unfolded, which eventually resulted in handshakes, smiles, and laughter. Peace was restored, which means safer streets, safer schools, and healthier communities.

February 19, 2019

February 19, 2019

February 19, 2019

February 19, 2019

Thank you for your readership and continued support, 

Janet and Jim

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