Community Projects

I started this project in February 2004 at Thuto-Thebe Middle school, in Ga-Rankuwa where I did my Grade 8 and 9 many years ago. I selected this school because it presently caters for learners from low socio-economic backgrounds. Most of the learners in the school are from families in which either one or both of the parents are blind and are either employed or working at the local institute for the blind.

The main purposes of the project are:

To recognise, promote and encourage learner excellence in mathematics and science in black schools.
To provide financial assistance to outstanding but financially underprivileged learners between Grades 7 and 12 by means of annual scholarships.
To recruit individuals who are sympathetic to the aims and objectives of the project to support and mentor learners.
During the period 2004 – 2007 I visited the school regularly to give support and work with the mathematics teachers on their teaching. During my visits I would teach mathematics to model pedagogies that I believe create equitable and enabling environments in multilingual classrooms. When I taught a class the mathematics teachers in the school were invited to observe and this created an opportunity for us to talk about the quality of mathematics teaching in an open manner.

The first group of learners who were adopted were selected on the basis of their performance in a mathematics challenge that I gave to them. Since then the number of learners who are receiving sponsorship has grown.

I do not actively raise funds for this project. Whenever I am invited to give talks I request my hosts to make a contribution to the project. At the beginning of the project I contributed a lump sum to the project so that I can open a bank account. In addition to me, a few other people assisted with contributions at the beginning of the project: Ms. Shosho Mmutlana, Dr. N. Bhengu, Dr. R. Sefako, Both Shosho Mmutlana and Dr Sefako continue to make contributions to date. Ms Segametsi Songwane started making contributions in 2010 when she learned about the project. The money is used to pay for school fees as well as any other educational needs that the learners may have.

Between 2004 and 2006 Mrs. Matlakala Sefora – a mathematics teacher at Thuto-Thebe middle school, managed the project and when she resigned I appointed Mr Joshua Mpete, another mathematics teacher and now Principal of LG Holele Secondary School to take over as manager of the project. The role of the manager is to support the learners in their school work and also to monitor their progress and prepare report on their progress. The manager also ensures that the learners’ educational needs are catered for.

I started this project in 1996 with 40 women in the rural village of Matamanyane in the Limpopo Province, the northern part of South Africa. This project was part of the Women and Rural Areas (WIRA) initiative a national program funded by the South African Breweries (SAB).

The main aims of the initiative were:

To create co-operative ventures which generate sustainable jobs and income in rural communities.
To build independence, self awareness and self esteem, restore human dignity and prepare participating women for the developmental challenges they are likely to face.
To promote sustainable rural livelihoods
The project was implemented through participative workshops that were run in two phases, personal empowerment and economic empowerment. At the end of 12 months in 1997 the Development bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) was tasked by the SAB to evaluate all the WIRA projects that were running in different provinces and Tsoga o Itirele Matamanyane won an award as the best WIRA project. The prize was a trip to Malaysia with the women in the project to visit other women’s projects there. This was a big motivation for the women of Matamanyane as all of them had never been in an airplane before and many of them had never visited Johannesburg. We came back from Malaysia with more ideas and Tsoga o Itirele Matamanyane kept growing. While they started with a bakery in 1997, in 1998 they expanded into breeding chicken and planting and selling vegetables and fruits. In 2004 they went into collaboration with the youth in the village. As coordinator of the project I remained 100% involved only in the first year of the project and ensured that the women had full ownership of the project and community support. I introduced them to resourceful networks. From 1998 I visited the project at least three times a year. I now remain in contact with them to date and visit occasionally.

In all the community work I do, I believe that it is important that the beneficiaries of the work are the owners of the work. I see my role as an enabler who makes available resources that people can use to reach their dreams and become self-reliant.