17 August, 2017, we celebrated the last year’s statistics and this year’s stories at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Urban Kids Concert. Here is our Annual Report and celebration of Botshabelo:
We are really glad that our AGM has fallen in Women’s Month this year – because it means we get to unashamedly celebrate the 37 women who make up Botshabelo! We have only 3 men in our midst…so you can imagine what it is like to work here for them!! We celebrate the resilience of the women who work here, their strength, commitment, faithfulness and huge hearts.
We celebrate: Priscilla, Paulina, Tine, Mashie, Fortunate, Henrietta, Codelia, Patience, Portia, Nicky, Elnor and Auntie Judith every day cuddling, feeding and caring for our babies as if they were her own.
We celebrate Marvelous, Jessica, Cailey, Caroline, Nancy, Amy, Sarah, Annah, Winnie, Regina and Rebekah, every school day igniting a spark of curiosity in their eager class of preschoolers, giving our community equal access to education no matter their income.
We celebrate Andy, Linda, Mairi, Toni, Lorraine, Maratwa and Corina as they give selflessly to the slow, arduous task of community change and upliftment – as they empower women to gain new skills and pass these on to their students.
We celebrate Jenni, Michelle, Mako, Alba, and Maja as they administrate the heck out of Botshabelo, raise funds, manage staff and keep up our level of professionalism.
We celebrate Mercy and Thuli as they dutifully sort, price, pack and sell clothing to our community – generating critical funds for our organisation.
And although our AGM falls in Women’s Month, we also celebrate Danie, Nelson and Sam, the males in our midst for their constant nature, their ability to move heavy things and for Danie to continue to keep our heads on our shoulders and our feet on the right path.
We are 37 women changing lives each day here at Botshabelo, but we are made strong by a community that rises to the challenge of joining us. We celebrate the many men and women who support and invest in the work we do! We celebrate the parents of our students, our community service volunteers and those that donate their old clothes.
Now we would like to share our statistics and stories from each of our programmes. While the statistics reflect last year (Annual Report), our stories are current.
Our first programme is our Babies Home which has been running for 17 years and is going from strength to strength as we refine and continue to re-focus ourselves on better, more excellent care for our children. During 2016 we cared for 19 children with 11 new children joining us during the year. Eight adoptions took place. Since 2000 we had a total of 98 adoptions! Currently 10 babies live in our home of which 8 are under 9 months old!
One incredible story coming out of last year was Mr J:
Mr. J was abandoned in a rubbish bin. Due to loss of oxygen, hypothermia, and other struggles at his birth, he faced life with serious developmental delays. Nicky, our Babies Home manager, remembers that he was, the ‘floppiest baby’ we have ever seen. At 7 months old, even with our daily interventions of exercise and weekly therapies, he would still fall right over when positioned to sit up. Our team dedicated themselves to strengthening his core through regular exercises. Each developmental milestone was painstaking to reach, and many struggles still seemed insurmountable, especially when it came to Mr. J’s eyesight. Working with wonderful doctors and therapists, Mr. J’s vision improved, but even they said that only surgery would fully correct his sight. The government waiting list for his surgery was 3 years. That would mean continued delays as he compensated, and less chance of adoption – for us that was NOT a choice. We started to share this struggle, and one of our international volunteers, Anna, took the story home with her to Germany. Between local donors and the immense support of Anna’s friends and family, Mr. J had successful eye surgery last July (2016). Since then, he has caught up like a whirlwind, finally meeting so many far off milestones. In July 2017, he left us to join his FOREVER FAMILY!
Our second programme is Urban Kids. It started in 2011, and we have seen over 500 Students come through Urban Kids in all those years! In 2016 we had 96 children in our pre-school of which 38 graduated from Grade R.
Another story to give life to these numbers:
When Thandi came to us we noticed a difference in her developmental progress, as she seemed delayed in several ways. With the help of our principal, Thandi’s teacher Sarah arranged for a professional assessment. The results revealed developmental and physical disabilities. BUT teacher Sarah didn’t stop there. Not being able to fully meet Thandi’s needs, Sarah started to look at other local schools. After many emails, calls, and visits, she found Little Caterpillars, a local school for children with disabilities like Thandi’s. Little Caterpillars agreed to greatly reduce her fees, closer to the cost of Urban Kids’ fees. Urban Kids was able to transfer Thandi’s sponsorship to the new school. In addition to providing schooling for Thandi, Little Caterpillars was also able to hire her mom, giving her stable employment. In July, Thandi has finished her first month and her new teachers are happy with her progress.
Our third programme is UpliftED, a constantly growing project with huge benefits. Due to our aim to work holistically with each centre providing training, resources, support, mentorship and renovations, we co-operated with 16 preschools, impacting 45 women and 936 children in 2016. This year we are reaching more than 60 women and well over 1000 kids. We furthermore have been able to move beyond Olievenhoutbosch, answering the call for support in outlying areas through our Saturday trainings. 50 women attend a WHOLE SATURDAY crash course in teaching and child-development every other month at no cost.
One story from Uplifted close to our heart is teacher Marvelous’.
Marvelous’ story begins with the enrolment of her son at the Urban Kids Preschool in 2015. Struggling with home and personal issues she had to abandon her studies and her dream of being involved in a profession (such as nursing or teaching) in order to fight for a better future for her son. Due to the reduced fees of the preschool programme, which was still a big sacrifice for her and her husband, Marvelous was able to enrol her son. Later that year she began to volunteer at Urban Kids. Showing spark of joy as she interacted with the children and having such a pro-active energy we were excited to invite her to join our Uplifted Programme. Marvelous jumped at the chance and began training with us on Thursdays, continuing to teach and assist in our preschool three days each week. She was awarded a bursary to do her Level 4 training as the top trainee in our programme that year. She is not only fighting for her son’s future, but is climbing her own ladder of success!
In this chaotic and turbulent time in South Africa we are encouraged and strengthened by the fact that the work we are doing is crucial and bringing change. We hold unswervingly to our belief in justice – to right the wrongs we see in our community. No matter what this country faces, we will continue to fight for better education for ALL children in our nation, we will continue to take in and love wholeheartedly the abandoned babies in our city, and will always aim to add value to our city.