Tag Archives: Education

A South African Peter and the Wolf

As 2016 comes to a close, I want to delight you with our very own South African version of the classical children’s ballet Peter and the Wolf. My 4 and 5 year olds at preschool practiced very hard to perform it for you. My own little Samuel, 4 yrs, wanted to be a cat, and Steven, 7, helped out with light effects. Enjoy and comment if you like.

 

Time Management and Social Media

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Traveling with my husband ministering at prophetic events.

Our oldest started grade 1 this year! How exciting, and how challenging at the same time.

 

Finding my feet and my place in the “mom collective” at our son’s school hasn’t been easy. I grew up and studied in Germany, the South African way of doing school is absolutely different from what I knew as school. Even the things 1st graders do here are different!

Plus, although I do my best mastering the Afrikaans language, it does happen that my son comes home from school with a word I have never ever heard of before. Enter social media. It is super nice to be able to quickly WhatsApp the teacher a picture of the word in question and get a prompt reply.

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Vetkoek filled with mince

Or when its fundraiser day and its my turn to make and sell vetkoek and mince.

How wonderful to quickly be able to google the recipe and do my part to fundraise for new toys and playground equipment. I probably baked 200 of those…

 

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Our upcoming preschool concert has me sewing costumes, cutting backing tracks and rehearsing scenes of Peter and the Wolf. Fun!

As far as blogging goes, between running a preschool, teaching our churches children’s church, giving violin lessons and playing in our worship band, blogging sure takes a back seat. But I definitely daily take the time to check the news and stay current. And this can be done really, really easy using twitter.

@chrisvanheerden

In talking with several wonderful friends recently I found that many people do not know how to really take advantage of the social networking microblogging service.

There are gazillions of Christians out there with twitter accounts of about 36 followers, and since there is never anything cool to read, they often haven’t been on twitter for month or even years.

And of course you get those who follow 7199 people and the content on their timeline is so confusing that it would take quite long to find out what’s current and important.

Apart from the search function in twitter that lets you see the currently trending #hashtags (anything that is moving people in that moment in the country you chose to search there is another way to curate your twitter content.

You can sort accounts that have a specific contend into lists.

A list is a curated group of Twitter accounts. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others.

That means you do not even have to follow all of the celebrities you like to stay in the loop with. Just create a list called Celebs and add anyone you are a fan of into that list. Later, if you want some celebrity news, just open that specific list.

Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that list.

That’s how I can see all important international news at a glance without having to scroll through a thousand people’s interesting but more trivial comments first.

Here are a view examples of lists I compiled.

At the end of this blog I will teach you how to create your own lists.

If you don’t have to take the time to create a lot of lists, you could simply subscribe to already compiled lists like my NEWS list:

 

I also made a view other lists with interesting content of people who wont be very likely to follow me back but are interesting to follow (without really hitting “follow”)

Kingom (Christian personalities and ministries)

VIPs, like heads of state

and so on. You are welcome to subscribe to any of my list to save you time.

 

As a rule of thumb, I follow people who follow me, people who have interesting content and are willing to interact. And then I list those that are too high and mighty to follow back but who are important enough to be of interest.

This way, it takes only 3 min to scan through anything newsworthy, helping this busy mom to stay in the loop!

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Using Twitter lists (in Twitter’s own words)

To create a list on Twitter for iOS:

  1. From the Me tab, tap the gear icon 
  2. Select View lists.
  3. Tap the plus iconto create a new list.
  4. Select a name for your list, and a short description of the list. The default setting for your list is public (anyone can subscribe to the list). To make the list only accessible to you, slide the switch next to Private to on.
  5. Tap Save.

To create a list on Twitter for Android:

  1. In the top menu, you will either see a navigation menu icon  or your profile icon. Tap whichever icon you have, then select Lists.
  2. Tap the plus iconto create a new list.
  3. Select a name for your list, and a short description of the list. The default setting for your list is public (anyone can subscribe to the list). To make the list only accessible to you, tap the checkbox next to Keep private.

 

I hope this helped you a little! See you on twitter!

 

Christiane

 

 

 

End of Year Fun, Stress and Success

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German mommy in South Africa!
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My sons love going fishing with their daddy.

South Africa is so different from Germany in many aspects. In Germany, just like in the US or Canada, our school year ends in July. You graduate in July and you start school again in September. In August you generally rest. Then, when you start school and work again in September, you get to rest at the end of year during Christmas and New Years, before starting the year again in January.

In South Africa, the year lasts from January to December without any major interruptions. In November all the reports need to be written, and what ever needs to be done has to be finished by the end of November because December is the big summer holiday. I find it to be a very long stretch of hard work culminating into a high pressure November. I tried to to find some resting points in between like going fishing with my boys but boy, am I tired right now!

My husband and my oldest son opening the concert: A trip to the bushveld
My husband and my oldest son opening the concert: A trip to the bushveld
Chatting to the parents about how well their kids did this year
Chatting to the parents about how well their kids did this year
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Little Sam had so much fun praising the Lord that this shot by reporter Isabel Venter made it to picture of the week in the local Zoutpansberger newspaper!

I was so happy to be able to do a big preschool graduation concert with our school. Every child received a detailed report on their development and the milestones they reached. Since I am trained in child development (MA) this was quite a thorough report and many hours were spent accessing each learner. We are so proud of the fact that all our preschool graduates have been accepted into good schools after doing really well in the  application interviews.

Here are some impressions from the concert for you to enjoy.

We will miss our children that leave to the "big school"! I have done a lot of training recently to fully understand the SA Department of Educations approach to early learning and we are happy to say that we live up the the highest standards.
We will miss our children that leave to the “big school”! I have done a lot of training recently to fully understand the SA Department of Educations approach to early learning and we are happy to say that we live up the the highest standards.
Proud students, proud parents. The kids got many certificates!
Proud students, proud parents. The kids got many certificates!
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One of our young graduates.
Showing of strength! I love to build confidence in young kids.
Showing of strength! I love to build confidence in young kids.

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I let each child of the oldest class perform a little speech on their own.
I let each child of the oldest class perform a little speech on their own.
the mighty Lions class performing
the mighty Lions class performing
Chatting to the parents about how well their kids did this year
Chatting to the parents about how well their kids did this year
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courtesy of Isabel Venter, Zoutpansberger regional newspaper
Baby Kateko, our youngest student, had a ball being on stage.
Baby Kateko, our youngest student, had a ball being on stage.
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Young performer

Hiking in the Soutpansberg with Toddlers

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Happy faces!

Today we took our preschoolers on a hiking trip into our nearby fantastic Soutpansberg mountains in northern Limpopo, South Africa! I had been teaching my 4 year olds about space, the globe, Africa, and our place on the map and now we went to check out geography by ourselves. Lots of excitement and many happy faces!

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The local mountain biking club developed some great trails that lead over mountain streams and through beautiful forrestry. The kids loved to stop and listen to the murmur of the water, the bird song and the wind! Hiking with 2-5 year olds must be about fun, different textures and a stimulating environment. A lot of children have never been to this mountain let alone have ever hiked, so this was real great exposure to a new experience.

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My husband, pastor Andries, came along to help keep our rambunctious boys safe and supervised!
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Picnic in the mountain
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It’s all about having fun!
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Thanks to the Akkedis Mountain bike challenge, we can enjoy a fantastic trail through our beautiful Soutpansberg mountain! http://www.akkedismountainbike.co.za/

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Special Needs school: So many needs!

May_0005Today my husband, myself and a very good friend went and visited again the Tshilidzini Special School.

In a previous blogpost I described this school more detailed.

May_0007We had decided to go and visit specific classes at separate visits to bring specific aid to the different departments. There are 360 learners at the school and it is impossible to bring something for everyone at one visit.

Today we went to visit grade R-3.

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With the help of friends from our church and Hope for Limpopo and using my own ressources I had purchased different educational materials such as CD players, educational CDs ranging from sound effects such as weather and animal noises to nursery rhymes, stories and songs. I also made shape, number and letter sorting boxes that can be used by deaf and blind children alike since the letters are made from wooden shapes that must be matched to the appropriate shape fixed to the box.

Discussing education with one of the care takers.
Discussing education with one of the care takers.

May_0020 I had also been making several educational tools myself such as letters and numbers to feel and match.

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winter clothes

We brought modelling clay, toy animals, puzzles, toys, clothes and blankets. The children enjoyed me singing a few songs with them and Roelien handed out some sweets for everybody.

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Trying to be of some inspiration to the carers of the school.

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The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you're happy and you know it" for them.
The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you’re happy and you know it” for them.
singing for the children
singing for the children

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the children singing along happily

 

sweets!
sweets!

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We went to the very drab and depressing dorm rooms to take measurements for the mattresses we are going to order for the children.

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In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?
In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?

I so hope we can find some sponsors to help renovate this boarding school for the visually, hearing and physically impaired children!

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That’s where the 4-5 year old children live and sleep.
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Cafeteria for 160 blind and visually impaired kids …

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Bringing Horse back riding to preschoolers

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Field trips are great, and field trips that come right to your preschool are a lot of fun too because it is safer!

Horses are magnificent animals. Horse riding and interaction with horses is a proven aid to education, concentration, honing fine and gross motor skills, muscle development and social skills.  Unfortunately many children do not have the opportunity of the benefit of getting to know these amazing creatures.

 

Therefore we are offering our children at Emmanuel Kinderland Preschool  a very special chance every Monday morning.

We provide our students with a chance for horse interaction and an introduction to horse riding with experienced horse trainer Sarah Coronaios from the Rondebosch Riding School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah explaining the basics of horse grooming

Thank you from the courts

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Intermediary Salome Phaho and myself when I handed R 4000 worth of comfort over to the court. Yeah, sorry we had no professional camera with us, just cell phones. But that’s exactly it – helping is gritty and not about looking pretty right?

Thank you from the courts

Today I received this letter from the intermediary for child witnesses and victims of sexual crimes at the Magistrate Court in Sibasa about how our Comfort boxes now are helping even children in the Musina court:

Good Afternoon Mam,blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus who causeth us to triumph through Christ!

I am simply excited for the foundation that has been laid because for this vision to manifest like this means Victory!

My colleagues Nthabiseng Dzhivhani has just given out a 12-15yrs box yesterday @ Musina and I heard the girl couldn’t put it down.

This project is really working as I realized that most kids come dejected and rejected with little or no support from parents or relatives as if they chose to be victims.

But when they find LOVE in that little box is like their WORLD has suddenly changed as they understand that irrespective of what happened and how they feel and what others take them for, there’s still HOPE in life because someone out there loves them and care about them so much.

DSC02559Thank you once again Woman of God for your heart for souls.

Pass my regards to Pastor

Salome Phaho

So wonderful to hear about those boxes really making a difference in children’s lives.

Of course I cannot post details about the children involved, but share some photos of the people who work with the children and pictures of the court:

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The ladies working with the children who come to testify in court.
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the entrance to the court room
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the tiny space available for children to wait for their court hearing. Our boxes make it so much more comforting for them.

Visiting orphans in Uganda and equipping their carers

Yippeh, my husband just returned from a real intense trip to Uganda/South Sudan. He went to encourage Christian leaders, ministers and educators, conducted leadership seminars and visited a lot, a LOT of orphans ministering to the children as well.

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The best room in his hosts house – no electricity, just a gas stove. They shared their food with him, beans, a little rice, a bit of pineapple.
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So happy to have a guest from South Africa!
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Many people came for prayer
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Children from the orphanage presenting an item
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All the children are eating a day: one cup of liquid porridge and maybe a fruit for tea. Resources are scarce.
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Preparation of the porridge
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Traveling on the back of a pick up truck to the next destination.
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Sunday lunch. although Uganda has fertile soil, people lack the knowledge to generate wealth from farming. Much more training needs to happen for people to be able to look after themselves. Many rely on the bananas that grow everywhere for food!
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Leadership seminar
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Equipping pastors and educators who are the ones looking after the needy in their communities.

Here is what he saw: IMG-20140312-WA031 IMG-20140313-WA002 IMG-20140313-WA003 IMG-20140313-WA004 IMG-20140313-WA008  IMG-20140313-WA011  IMG-20140313-WA013 IMG-20140313-WA014 IMG-20140313-WA015 IMG-20140313-WA017 IMG-20140313-WA018 IMG-20140314-WA014 IMG-20140314-WA016 IMG-20140314-WA018 IMG-20140314-WA020 IMG-20140314-WA024 IMG-20140314-WA025 IMG-20140314-WA028 IMG-20140315-WA002 IMG-20140315-WA003 uganda (2) uganda (6) uganda (13)

Heavenly minded

I do not know about you, but sometimes I feel like the prophet Asaph:

Psa 82:1-8 A Psalm of Asaph.

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

Here in South Africa, I often drive by shockingly pompous places like this one which is a game auctioning facility where buck are sold at astronomical prices:

Antique furniture imported from Belgian castles decorates game breeders offices and the antelope lodge in amazing architecture. No problem at all, everyone do as they enjoy.

On the other hand I am faced daily with the lack of appropriate educational facilities and the most basic of provision for people. In South Africa, 10 % of all 0-4 year olds are malnourished, according to UNICEF 84 percent of South African children do not have any access to educational stimulation before they start grade 1.

Our magistrate courts have no facilities for the hundreds of victims of child rape they process every year, those poor children have to sit next to the perps in court.

Yesterday a boy drowned in a school toilet in a rural area that was basically just a long drop.

We labor hard and sometimes it hurts, to be nothing in the eyes of the great and mighty who so easily could make a tremendous difference.

Being measured by the size of your car and the interior deco of your home can wear down the most spirited fighter over time. So that’s why I share this bible verse with you, because I strongly believe that this world is not everything.

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The kindness you share here, the compassion and love, will carry over to the next world, where God will make up for all the unrighteous mocking. I believe Mother Theresa will be a royal princess there!

Currently I am in the process of collecting, buying and making educational material to be taken to the Tsilidzini Special School next week. We need Montessori materials to count, weigh, feel, etc which can be sent directly to the Emmanuel Church where I am working.

I am also trying to purchase 360 waterproof mattresses for the boarding school kids at the Special school as bed wetting seems a major problem.

As to the rape victims: the state of social services regarding under aged rape victims is saddening and really typical for Limpopo, where the triage of services is not working as effectively as in other provinces.

I am handing out the very informative Rape Response protocol posters by the Viva organization at own costs to be put up at public places as to inform women of what they can and should do in the unfortunate event of rape.

If you are interested in the report, pls send me your email address. I am also in the process of putting together these parcels for the young victims: Out of years of experience in a South African setting my friend at Viva suggests a soft toy, a chocolate bar, kiddies juice, a hoodie or cap to feel safe in and maybe something to colour in or sticker activity to have an outlet for nervousness.

NGOs are the ones doing all the little steps to help where the need is greatest. Do not give up your good work, everybody!

Find more information in the discussion below.

Collecting and making

Schools have opened again in South Africa and my little preschool is working hard to deliver excellent schooling to all children.

At the same time I am working hard on creating and purchasing sensory teaching aids for the blind and deaf children at the Tshilidzini Special school. I will be going in about 2 weeks time to help and assist the teachers. We also want to get a local African artist to paint a nice mural to brighten up the drab environment of the doormrooms.

I need to purchase paint, ornaments, fruit and veg for a better diet for the children, mattresses and some CD players. I have put together a collection of music CDs that are ideal to teach with.

The South African educational system lacks on every level. Education, public schooling, is expensive. The government is not putting the taxes into education (nor into roads, health care etc. It goes into villas and luxury cars). Teachers haven’t heard of pedagogics and are very little schooled in education theory, educational psychology, scientific background.

Sigh.

In Africa, you do never know where to start. Jump in and believe that every drop of sweat you put in has the power to drive away the darkness. Prayers are welcome.

Thanks a lot, fake interpreter! #MadibaMemorial making history.

As somebody who works in the education field in South Africa, I am tremendously impressed with what happened at the Madiba Memorial. A genius planned a fantastic stage act to expose some of our most pressing issues.

For those of you who do not know, millions across the globe were inspired and moved by speeches made at former President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

You can read about this inspiring event everywhere in the web. Maybe you were also amused at Obama’s selfie shoot,

and Michelle’s angry expression resulting in her even switching seats with the Potus during intermission since he seemed to get a little too comfy with the blonde he was seated next to.Great photo-story here.

But what the international community was really outraged about was this sign language interpreter who was not signing in South African or any other known sign language, but seemed to have stepped right off a star ship :

Or was it true Anti-American activism at work here, really really subtly?

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Watch him “translate” President Obama in his historic address to honour old president Nelson Mandela for his life’s work here:

The man, who signed for a portion of the ceremony including Barack Obama’s speech, was simply making up his own signs, say the Deaf Federation of South Africa. David Buxton, the CEO of the British Deaf Association, said the unidentified man, who was supposed to be signing in South African, was “waving his hands around but there was no meaning.”

Mr Buxton said it was “childish hand gestures and clapping, it was as if he had never learned a word of sign language in his life.”

He said sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern, but his were just repetitive hand movements.

“It was hours of complete nonsense. He is clearly a fraud who wanted to stand on stage with big and important people. It’s quite audacious if you think about it.”

I beg to differ. I am saying:

Well done, Comrade!

You accomplished what many of us tried before but always failed: to raise awareness on an international stage of the outrageous South African habit to employ someone for any other reasons than qualification.

When it comes to former-cleaner-come-high-paid-municipal leader, nobody cares if a non-educated buddy of another functionary gets to decide that raw sewage can safely spill into drinking water supplies. And when thousands of Limpopo villagers have no access to running water because Julius Malema well received millions of Rand for a government tender but failed to complete the pipeline he had promised to build, this raises not even an eyebrow internationally.

Let us learn the lesson. Maybe talking about headmasters of special needs schools who receive outrageous pay but do not bother to learn about education should get an reaction?

Will the CIA hold the ANC responsible for allowing a mentally unstable, unqualified person such close access to the president of the United States? Are we ever going to be able to discuss qualifications in South Africa?

Blind children who sit in dark, empty rooms while the donated Braille typewriters stand unused in the shelves because the principal has no idea what to use them for (but he did bother to study the car marked before buying that high end SUV) can maybe draw attention to this problem.

tshilidszini 020Or a fully equipped computer room that does not get used because, as I am told in no uncertain terms: deaf children can not learn words. Just like that. When I am informing the teachers that you can download loads of visual vocabulary games for free online, they do not even look up from their whatsapp chats on their cell phones.

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These facilities built in the 1970s house 400 physically challenged, hearing or visually impaired and albino children who do not get sufficient stimulation or adequate education. And nobody seems to care.

Applaud this comrade who was bold enough to show how the cadre does not bother a bit about educating the special needs people of South Africa!

Now the national “ministry of explaining things away” claims this poor person is schizophrenic http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Fake-interpreter-says-he-is-Schizophrenic-20131212

Well, whatever episode you are suffering on the mental spectrum, you are normally much more likely to regress back to old habits rather than making up non-intelligible signs. For him to sign: mama makes great stew, or at least repeatedly use the SA sign for Mandela, would have been more likely. Which means this interpreter probably never knew how to sign in the first place.

Singing together with the parents of my preschool’s first ever Christmas Concert.

Living in South Africa can be frustrating, to say the least. I learned: involve some topic that matters internationally, like offending the international deaf community, and you might draw some bit of attention to major South African problems. Will things change? Not through international outrage.

At always, it will be the tedious works of love by dedicated individuals that will continue making a difference.

Here is a great blog summarizing the correct steps that should have been taken in appointing an interpreter for such an historic event:

“This whole thing makes me sad. So terribly sad. What has happened to Madiba’s dream? A country ruled in fairness to all it’s peoples? A just government, portraying the hopes and aspirations of a wonderful nation?

“Let us hope that clear minds and cool heads consider the questions raised. The interpreter is just a symptom, you guys. We need to address the disease, not blame that poor man for the real problem.”

PS. It gets even more bizarre. In a weird turn of events the South African Government now admits their interpreter who was entrusted with the task of translating Barack Obama, president of the USA, does not really understand English.
“For you to be able to interpret you must understand the language that’s being spoken at the podium.  He is Xhosa speaking as his first language, the English was a bit too much for him. So yes he could not translate from English to sign language,” says Bogopane-Zulu.

South Africa, please wake up. Now even the African American (black) president of the USA fell victim to BEE.

If you can do with a little chuckle, check out what the “fake interpreter” really said:

A Special Needs School: Love the Children

PS: Read the update on this post here: Revisited

 

When you live in South Africa, chances are that you are barely making it through your month.

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That’s why at month end the supermarkets are overcrowded with people who received their pay and can buy some food again. I was not used to this from my former life in Germany. I now earn a fraction of what I brought home monthly in Germany. Medical costs are high – my son needed his teeth fixed and it actually cost more than what I get in a month.

As pastors of a big community church in the poorest of all SA provinces, we deal with so many crises that it sometimes seems like climbing a never ending mountain. We had to bury a lot of young people recently due to crime and traffic accidents.

Working for a church means to be the crisis center of a community. And a church in a poor community in the poorest province has very limited funds, so you end up paying a lot out of your own pocket. A new T-shirt for your child or some shoes for a needy sister? I hope some of you can relate when I write that one becomes a little hesitant to get involved in new things. I am not one of the south Africans driving around with a flashy car spending my mornings in gyms and glitzy malls. Wouldn’t mind, but there is real life happening to real people and i don’t want to play the violin while the titanic is busy sinking. I’d rather be tossing more people onto the life boats, if you know what i mean.

In Africa it goes like this: if you have once helped, you will be always responsible to help. Somehow helping creates the impression you have got a money making donkey in your backyard somewhere. We had many people who we helped, showing up again and again demanding more and more things, not understanding that my sons also must eat.

But the Lord Jesus challenges us to never close our hearts, we need to trust Him to replenish what was given.

Out of that call to love, we dared once more to go and check out people who might be in need. You know, when it comes to children, you just have to throw caution into the wind and get ready to help.

So today I have been on the road to Thohoyandou, the former capital of Venda in the Limpopo province.

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Africa runs at a very different pace (hurry up and wait).

This Special Needs School has been all the time on my mind though, and after being in contact with the headmaster and some people who wanted to help, I was pushing my husband and finally today we got to go!

I want to share some impressions and pictures with you.

I pray and hope my words can reach your heart and those of some people able to support.

The school was founded under the old Afrikaans regime, a huge complex with great facilities – in theory.

It is immediately evident upon arriving at the school that the gardens are landscaped and the offices comfortable.

Apart from the front, the back buildings are starting to show signs of neglect and disrepair.

At the moment, the TSS is home to 360 visually and hearing impaired children as well as physically disabled children and children with various degrees of mental disabilities who are schooled in 3 separate complexes at the school.

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The Principal, Mr. Maluma, received us sitting at his desk.

He informed us that this is a government school. The government build the school in the 1970s. The different buildings on the vast complex are big and solid. But it is obvious that for a long time no repairs have been done.

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The Deputy Principle of TSS Mr. Msrabu was so kind to lead us around the school premises.

This is the main building where the staff offices are.

Please read my report carefully. It is easy to come in, judge and criticize. I really do not want to do that. I am sure the staff of such an institution is really weary of people with a camera throwing some bags of cookies around and thinking they are saving the world.

It is hard to serve at any place and not get accustomed to all the wrongs over the years so much so that you get comfortable and stop saving the world, though.

The way leading to the teaching and housing area of the visually impaired. You are looking at classrooms.

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Classrooms around a courtyard.

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Dorm room for 7-12 year old girls. Everything was clean except for a strong smell of urine due to the bedwetting problems of many children.

Mr. Maluma kept stressing the fact that they need waterproof mattresses.

I really wish the government would provide the funds to renovate the dorm rooms and add some cheer and deco to them.

Another dorm room.

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Just get me some paint a a few arty aunties and lets paint this happy!

Stairway to the first floor where there are more bedrooms. I was sad to notice the total absence of decorations.

The cafeteria for the blind.

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The facilities were all very neat and clean. Although to me the bedrooms are totally drab and sad, I am aware that many learners are from backgrounds where they probably never even had a bed of their own and also not three meals a day. That is much, and it is too little at the same time.

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The government pays the school R17 (about 2 USD) per child per day for food. The parents pay a fee of 1400 ZAR, about 160 USD, per year as a school fee.

As I said it is a government school, the principal and staff are paid by the government. There is no extra initiative to repair the school and purchase any extras out of the private pocket. The government seems to have no funding available to upgrade the cafeteria. The chairs and tables are so worn. I pray we will meet somebody with enough funds and a hart to change this!

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The library and resource room. The materials where basically 20 years old or older.

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Kids are between grade K (in South Africa it is called grade R) and grade 7.

The severity of their disability differs greatly.

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A great number of Albino children (lacking normal pigmentation) whose eyesight is usually seriously impaired, often up to 80%, but who are otherwise fine, are in these special needs classes. To me it was astonishing that they were not wearing any glasses. I do not know enough of the customs in their villages to be able to judge if they are actually better off at this school. I personally felt that the environment in the classrooms was careless and unengaged.

The children were definitely bored as this was not the appropriate place of schooling for those with Albinism.

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The classrooms lack teaching materials especially for the little ones.

The kids live at the school but do not have any personal belongings. There are no decorations and also no special materials to teach blind kids. In most classrooms the children were asleep on their desks.

There were Braille typewriters in the class but the teacher said she does not know how to use them.

These typewriters are the only way that blind children can write.

The manager had never heard of Braille and was amazed when I showed him that you can type dots that form an alphabet.

The teachers said it is too difficult for her, she is new. She has been working there since 2010.

I see the effort in teachign the children academic skills. It would be nice if some fun franchises such as Kindermusik could be sponsored to come in and support the teachers.

I noticed that there was only one crafts class,  all other craft classes such as sewing and wood work were closed down, although they could produce toys and the likes for the school. I hope the leadership will realize again that fundraising can and must come from within the school, and the nearby tourism due to the proximity of the Kruger National park would provide a great source of income if for example woodwork was to be sold.

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Another challenge I noticed is that severely mentally ill children where together with learners who were only hearing impaired and obviously frustrated with the little education they were receiving.

Although the school is only up to grade 7, learners are often 20 years of age when they finish school due to the fact that up to the time they get to this school, they have not been given any education at all. Hearing impaired children have not learned to communicate even the simplest terms in sign language before. The teachers have to do a lot of hard ground work and are in over their heads.

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These teens were all desperate for a hug and some praise for their samplers of their work.

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One teacher, asked about the stimulation the children are receiving in the afternoons, told us they are only roaming about. No toys, no activities. I want to bring toys for each child, but I am told that the teachers are afraid that this will cause strive amongst the children. I understand that problem.

I can make simple Montessori-type teaching aids by myself for these children. I will try to get our people to help me purchase the materials needed to make those teaching aids myself.

But I would really need you to ask for some sponsors for waterproof mattresses, and anything else you can think of as well.

There is no visible application of modern educational materials. The teachers need to be taught to use computer programmes to teach vocabulary to the hearing impaired children.

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This is a government school. But the braille typewriters stand unused because teachers are not knowledgeable about their use.

There is a computer room with about 16 computers in it and I am told the deaf children can never learn to operate a computer.

When I mention that there are loads of educational games available for cheap or even free online (like for example sorting a picture to match a word), the teachers in the class who are on their cell phones and the manager as well say they hear that for the first time.

Who can support us to be involved in helping??? It’s not just material needs. The children are sleeping their formative years away. So much could be done.

The kids were desperate for a hug and an appreciative word.

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This lovely young first grader sang for us a song with a voice as clear as a mountain stream. So beautiful. Her teacher was the mopst enthusiastic of all the teachers we met, although she has to make do with materials more than 20 years old – only two buckets full of plastic toys, no numbers or counting beads, no alphabet to feel etc. I want to make her some tools like that.

This little blind girl touched my heart with her beautiful song about the love of Jesus she was singing for us. I so hope to have the time soon again to go again and show the teachers how to use teaching aids.

What I can not do is to buy 360 standard mattresses with plastic covering.

The sad thing is that my skin colour is always putting me in the box of “rich and responsible for everything”. Which is not true – I had to even borrow a car to go there.

The classroom with a teacher I really enjoyed. She was trying to do the best for her grade 1 learners with whatever materials she had.

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The teacher urgently needs some toys and learning materials. All she has are some plastic toys in two plastic buckets.

I can rally my friends to help get 360 stuffed toys so the kids do not have to sleep alone on a cold room.

I can make teaching aids.

I can get books and building blocks.

I can try to inspire the teachers to re-open the workshops so that students can produce goods to the benefit of all. (toys can be self made as well).

Can you help us contact organizations who might donate modern day teaching aids to the school?

I can talk to farmers to donate fresh produce and food.

I can buy treats.

I can inspire my youth group to come and do a show for the kids and minister the love of Jesus to them.

Can you find sponsors for the mattresses and other material needs?

Lots of blessings to you from South Africa,

Christiane van Heerden

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How is that Bucket List doing?

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Alien Pinata I made last year for Steven’s Toy Story themed birthday. It’s his birthday month again and I so hope I will somehow find the time to make a unique pinata again. Gee, there will always be trauma, and people in need, but Steven will only turn 4 once in his life.

Update on my 2013 Bucket List

What a treat to quickly sneak in some blogging after an eventful week! This week was stuffed with happy moments, from finishing the new curriculum for the preschool to drafting the choreography for our Anti-Rape hip-hop drama, to hosting a trauma seminar today and finishing the planning for tomorrow mornings sunday school.

Now I want to quickly keep you in the loop on how that Bucket List thing of mine is doing.

My Bucket List 2013 – things I hopefully manage to achieve and experience.

As they happen, I will include links to what I was able to do in this regard right under each item. They might link, if fitting, to my other blog “Traveler’s Log” if it is about going places.

People Stuff

1. Meet new, interesting people

02.03. Organized a Trauma Counseling Seminar with Weynand and Barbara Louw which went down very nicely today. Really sweet and competent couple who have seem to traveled the ups and downs of life themselves and are definitely qualified to talk about the topic. Good stuff. Looking forward to maybe walking and working closer together in the future. Our people are definitely better equipped now to deal with the many traumatic situations we face in South Africa.

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A picture of a male lion (duh) I got really close to. Find out more about my travels at my traveling blog! Click lion …

4. Learn how to speak Venda

Why local languages are important

5. Publish stuff, get back into public speaking (after and with little kids … who wants to Au Pair?)

February: Started to speak at a Woman’s camp together with my husband again. Been asked to publish. Have written a drama and choreography for the Rape Ape campaign.

6.Network and connect. This lone ranger needs to join hands with like-minded passionate Christians.

Not an easy one. Been asked to leave a much anticipated meeting of national leaders in the first five minutes because apparently my little kids were a nuisance. We were late, due to a crisis back at the church, someone had just lost a pregnancy. You do not leave hastily at a situation like that, saying: Hey, our pastor will be cross if we arrive late at a meeting 500 km from here? So we drove fast, and the kids needed to stretch their legs after a5 hour drive. I don’t blame them. They would have settled under a table with colouring books eventually. But so I had to spend the two days outside – although fully prepared with national pressing issues researched and questions ready… I might want to network with people who appreciate the effort to drop everything and come a long way to see them?

9.Have a good vacation with the kids, where the cellphone use is limited to the lesser moments.

Money is a big issue here, and also to have a trustworthy person who can stand in while we are gone. You can’t believe the amount of trauma happening in a relatively small town and how much a pastor is the first place of help for many people to run to.

10.Host a special event at church. Don’t fear the no-sayers. Not even if they get up and leave if you come on stage.

02.03. Trauma Counseling Seminar, done. Wonderful! It gave many new impulses to many, changing the mindset away from the mystical towards clearly defined roles and approach.

11.Go to Germany and see my family. They deserve to see their daughter, grandchildren, sister, once a year.

Again, money. Should do a video audition to play a small role in a South African drama… I can do it, I know that.

12.Make a lot of money so I can be more helpful to those who lack around me. A prayer and a handshake just doesn’t cut it in Africa. Work towards creating a sustainable structure for helping others.

Many single moms in the African community have to put their children in less than acceptable creches to be able to work in other peoples homes as maids and nannies. This grieves me beyond words. To pay 200 Rand a month, when you earn 1200 R a month, to put your baby in a dirty muddy yard among 50 others, with one or two ladies barely meeting your child’s basic needs, so that you can wipe other kid’s noses and wash their dishes? It is not right. I am slowly getting involved with Symphonia Quality education for South Africa and hope this will lead to involvement in helping improve preschool education in poorer areas.

13.Upgrade my preschool Emmanuel Kinderland to profile itself amongst the local nurseries.

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Making jewelry at Emmanuel Kinderland Preschool

February 2013: Besides the Basic music classes and language development program that I designed myself I brought in gymnastics, playball and computer classes for the kids and also designed a wholesome daily curriculum. Like the school on facebook: www.facebook.com/EmmanuelKinderland

14.Go to gym and look like an action heroine.

So far, so good, going to gym 3x a week, spinning, workout, zumba- in the ideal scenario which means baby sitter needs to be in place and although its not during workhours, the church needs to befine. Apparently pastor’s don’t get to have privacy at gym, the office recently sent people over to see us there during spinning class. Hmm. But nevertheless, it is important. See here for why it’s helping me to feel one with the strange world I am in:

Exercise 1

19. Send 100 snapshots from where I am at the moment on Postcards from Chris

follow me on twitter for the postcards @ChrisvanHeerden

Gonna keep you posted. Thanks for cheering for us!

Christiane

Bringing back civilisation – a plea for love 1

“To get to a woman’s heart, a man must first use his own.”

~ Mike Dobbertin

My previous blog posts attempted to inform on the topic of the South African rape crisis, a very real, very shocking and frightening problem in our country.

Following the discussion on twitter I have observed both the need to focus stricter laws and convictions with harsher sentences for sex offenders and rapists as well as asking the question why do men in SA rape that much. Quoting Wikipedia here:

One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency said they had been raped in the past year.[38]

South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world.[39] In a related survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that ‘jackrolling’, a term for gang rape, was fun.[38] More than 25% of a sample of 1,738 South African men from the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces admitted when anonymously questioned to raping someone; of those, nearly half said they had raped more than one person, according to a non-peer reviewed policy brief issued by the Medical Research Council (MRC).[40] Several news publications extrapolated these results to the rest of the South African population.[41][42][43] The humanitarian news organization IRIN claims that an estimated 500,000 rapes are committed annually in South Africa, ….[43]

More than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children were reported in 2000 in South Africa.[44] Child welfare groups believe that the number of reported incidents represents merely a fraction of the actual number of incidents.[44]

A belief common to South Africa holds that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or AIDS.[44] South Africa has the highest number of HIV-positive citizens in the world. According to official figures, circa 11% of South Africans are infected with the virus.[45] Edith Kriel, a social worker who helps child victims in the Eastern Cape, said: “Child abusers are often relatives of their victims – even their fathers and providers.”[44]

This is shocking information, especially in a Valentins post.

But we do live in a shocking world, where love seems to have lost it’s appeal.

This is why tonight I want to bring us back to the beauty of a love relationship and want to plea that we do not allow the downward spiral of sexual violence in our society to continue.

The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the second kind are impossible.

Which in other words means, if we do not put active, conscious, calculated effort into the system we are in, everything will move down to the smallest common denominator.

Which is what we are having in South Africa. The other day I walked by a news stand, and a papers front page was a headline: Increasing numbers of African fathers having sex with their daughters, and in the article itself it said that in their “culture” they believe they are entitled to show their daughters that this is how “sex happens”.

I should have bought the paper and written a flaming letter to the editors. I will not ever let the fact that I am in town with two nagging toddlers prevent me from getting this kind of evidence and doing something about it, that’s for sure.

Since when is a crime okay because of “culture”? People of South Africa I am sick and tired of you telling me this lame culture excuse as soon as we face a clash of moral values. In the past we could quote the bible which forbids incest and any form of sex with anybody other than your wife, today we are told that is “politically incorrect”. Well, while we seem to have no human rights defending law that is applicable for all SA citizens I will not refrain from quoting my good old bible as some form of basic civil agreement.

For a deeper view why the bible historically founded today’s understanding of justice and order, read lawyer and political commentator Alan Dershowitz’s excellent book:2000: The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Law. Warner Books. ISBN 978-0-446-67677-9. (one of the funnest reads on the subjects if I may add).

In South Africa it is currently okay to have more than one wife (our president does) as long as you can prove it is your culture. That’s also why we tip toe that much around issues like lobola (paying for a woman’s hand in marriage), which often is negotiated by needy parents or mothers selling their under aged daughters away without their consent.

I want to advocate a South Africa with one legal system for all. There is no going back to a glorified past, like all civilized nations we should strive for a future where every human beings rights are protected, and man and women are treated equal.

We need a reform of our education system. The above quoted “jack rolling”, a practice of gang rape started in the Soweton ghettos during Apartheid, was initially an attempt of young African males to prevent young females to succeed in completing their education.

Read more about jack rolling here

and about it’s objective of hindering young women’s social climb Here

I have blogged about the need of an education reform in South Africa

Education

and want to underline tonight that only an educated heart can truly understand the art of love.

This is what essentially sets the human apart from an animal. We do not follow our immediate instincts and urges. (I found this amazing in some of the links shared on twitter, explaining rape with men’s “combustible sexuality” that apparently can not keep their needs under control … well obviously they can in other nations that have a far, far lower rape rate than South Africa. Which then would naturally open the stage to the provocative question: Do men in all nation have the same mental capacity? If you say yes, and you mean by that that we are all the same, then this would bind you to the conclusion that we very well can and MUST expect the same restraint, self control and moral code of all men in all nations, and “but it’s our culture” must be outlawed as an excuse for criminal behavior. Feel free to think it through, quote and reblog please).

An educated mind feels much more the need for a soul mate, a life companion, and mutuality in a love relationship.

What would go through someone’s mind who grew up with an appreciation for literature, arts, history and other civilization benefits seeing the picture below?

Now what would your average gangster think? Don’t even want to go there, right?

Let not beauty be stolen, the potential to love be destroyed and all that’s good and beautiful in this world be raped because good people did nothing until it was too late.    – Chris van Heerden –

Education also teaches discipline, practice, self control. A child learns taking turns, considering others, sharing and empathy in a good preschool. A good school should wake up inquisitive minds, challenge reasoning and also teach self control as a means to achieve higher levels.

Are our schools doing that, when even a simple task jsut as text book delivery seems too difficult for our highly paid minister of education?

I listened to education reform activist Louise van Rhynns speech on the state of education in our nation and want to share this with you tonight.

This is a call to wake up, and get involved. If you do not want raping gangs of young men in our streets who have never even though about finding true love, who posses no discipline or skill of making a career for themselves let alone truly winning a soul mate and creating a respectful, happy and functional family, then consider the correlation between men’s ability to think and men’s ability to love., I plead with you, get involved changing our nations way of thinking.

Down with the Rape Apes

Sorry for the phony title, but the whole topic stinks so much that I really do not have the nerve thinking of a better headline right now.

South African 17-year-old dies of gang-rape injuries
Wed, Feb 06 12:03 PM EST

By Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A 17-year-old South African girl died of injuries inflicted in a gang-rape at the weekend, provoking rare outrage on Wednesday in a country inured to some of the world’s highest levels of sexual violence.

The victim had been sliced open from her stomach to her genitals and dumped on a building site in the town of Bredasdorp, 130 km (80 miles) east of Cape Town, the Cape Argus newspaper reported.

The victim identified one of her attackers before she died, it said. Hospital staff who battled to save her life were given counseling because of the horrific nature of her injuries.

The case has echoes of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus that has triggered huge protests in India against endemic anti-female violence.

The Bredasdorp murder is unlikely to provoke such a large-scale outpouring of anger in South Africa, where women’s groups say rape has lost the power to shock.

“It is difficult to find reason behind the many different acts of gang rape, child rape, rape of the elderly, corrective rape and male rape,” the Women’s League of the ruling African National Congress said in a statement.

“Men and women need to join hands around this issue and fight this epidemic together. The Women’s League and a few women’s NGOs can no longer be the lone voices crying out against rape.”

South Africa’s statistics agency concluded in 2000 that it had the highest reported rape rate of all 120 Interpol member countries. Even when suspects are caught, only 12 percent of cases end in conviction.

Sexual crimes rarely spark media outrage.

One rare exception was when seven men aged between 14 and 20 went on trial last year for raping a mentally handicapped 17-year-old girl and recording it on a cell-phone video that later went viral. The case is continuing.

Even then, the incident spurred little beyond some soul-searching editorials and anguished radio phone-ins.

(Additional reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa; editing by Andrew Roche)

Read another article HERE

During our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. SA our reaction to rape and murder decides our future destiny.

As you can see I am adding pictures of INDIAN protesters. It seems, and media reporters voice this, that South Africa stays indifferent to these horrible crimes committed to their women and children. Just last week the Sowetan featured a story of a 13 year old girl suffering from Epilepsy being sold as a child bride to a Limpopo Sangoma.

In South Africa we have learned to to lift our voice never too loudly lest it might be interpreted as “intolerance” because incidents as the sold underaged bride are often excused with “but it is our culture”. In my eyes it is not a far shot from staying silent at the trafficking of an underaged girl to a “traditional healer” to creating a system where young men grow up believing women are there for the picking, resulting in gang rapes, resulting in agonizing death.

Helloo, wake up, somebody.

This one is painfully close to our doorstep. I am honest, I cried my eyes out when the news broke about the India rape. I cannot help but picture brutality of this incident, and am deeply shaken by it. The protests of these thousands and thousands of brave men and women was comforting.

But I am crying even harder at this one. Indifference is worse than hate, its a crime in itself. Uniting South Africa seems to be much harder than uniting India. All too long have we, under the mantle of shame because of our appalling history of Apartheid, felt we need to tread lightly around “cultural” issues. The different “treatment” of women in different ethnic groups within SA has even been legalized by the government allowing a Muslim or a tribal chief the “right” to all “take” several wives, while a white Christian would find himself in serious trouble should he be polygamistically inclined.

Now wait a moment. Do we strive to become a beacon of light to the rest of Africa and the world? What about that sweet BBC documentary “South Africa’s Path to Freedom” presenting us as such a fine example of reconciliation instead of hate?

I must say the statistics of Interpol rating South Africa’s the world’s RAPE CAPITAL, a women being raped EVERY 17 SECONDS rings in stark contrast to that in my ears.

Have we attempted freedom at all cost, letting weeds grow unchecked until they become a forest so twisted and thick that it is unmanageably deadly?

“Culture”can not be blamed for the way fathers raise their sons to treat women. We are not disconnected from the rest of the world, we have to adapt an international mindset.

And no, human trafficking is NOT okay, paying money for sex or marriage with woman of any age but ESPECIALLY under-aged girls must be severely penalized and RAPE needs to be publicly condemned in the sharpest ways and punished, no bail, no excuses.

Furthermore we need to wake up and understand that all SA’s problems are linked. If our government keeps its people ignorant, by building mansions with tax money while 123 learners have to share one classroom, http://kasieconomics.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/ekasieconomics-the-123-kids/  we must expect more severe problems to come in the future.

To me it is a strong pointer that the rape took place in the Western Cape, where recently many farm workers protested against daily minimum wages of 69 Rand and saw an increase to 129 Rand/day, leading to subsequent loss hundreds of jobs.

Are the farmers to blame, many of whom providing not only the wages but also meals and housing to their workers? Many farmers struggle themselves as it is.

Do we really see ourselves as a low wage country? This equation has long crumbled. A recent discussion at the University of Stellenbosch with German ambassador Andreas Kuehne revealed that South Africa’s products are long not competitive enough for international exports any more. South Africa’s production costs have risen with 134% per unit while European production costs have sunk thanks to higher productivity.

The key lies in #education. We underutilized our potential by keeping a vast part of our citizens in utter ignorance. One skilled, educated laborer can produce more than  15 unskilled ones because of greater foresight, ability to operate machines, less waste and breakage etc etc.

I am tired of hearing there is not enough work for a specialized work force. Listen, there is not enough work for ignorant people who do not care about their employer (burning down the farms that sustain them at awhim, burning libraries, hospitals and trucks), there will not be enough money for piece jobs and day labour anymore. This country produces, but the refinement of our products often happens overseas. A trained work force can keep the refinment of our product in land. Why not become an electronic superpower? Produce world quality foods and export luxury goods en masse instead of importing them?

think with me. Quality education for free for all in first world schools, perfectly trained and equipped teachers …  Educated labour – higher wages, higher buying power in local hands – higher market turn over, even higher income for our dear government, who could then give back into education.

No need to turn to crime. Pressure to perform. Fulfilled life, hope for future… and together we can make rapists extinct.

 

I am brainstorming roughly because I have a day job and two kids and just need to get this ball rolling somewhere! Are you with me?

As soon as my day allowes it I will talk today to other ministries, churches have volunteers and drama teams, we need to go 2 schools #stoprape  with agressive message that RAPE IS NOT EVEN FOR APES, it is wrong and rapists are criminal cowards who WILL be punished by both legal system and society.

Sex excesses, rape and pregnancy are big problems at all SA schools.

Its unacceptable and if we do not tackle it who will.

I am talking with friends to put together a musical drama show to tour schools with to educate that RAPE is wrong.

Comments and input welcome … this mommy needs to go make lunch now.

What can we do – what are we doing? A call for churches to be actively involved

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My husband and I build a big jungle gym-castle for our churches kids. A lot of people from other schools came and asked for the construction plans and costs. Churches can mobilize volunteers to do amazing things that otherwise would cost fortunes.In fact, churches are THE experts in raising armies of volunteers who could change the world.

Hi there, dear cherished audience.

The “likes” on a wordpress blog do not necessarily represent the audience we are actually reaching with our scribblings. I am delighted to know a lot of people from the South African educational reform community, as well as interested entrepreneurs, have been reading up on my opinionated evaluation of the trouble with the South African educational system in my previous posts!

Some commented on twitter how a government subsidized free education system could create a sense of entitlement counter productive to the sense of self-responsibility we are trying to instill into the South African public.

That is the whole trouble with South Africa, isn’t it. Entitlement. Offense. Opinions. I love to plainly look at facts. Is the current system working? Definitely not. Is the whole country’s business world struggling because of poorly educated laborers and employees not knowing the first thing about their job? Definitely yes.

Government financed schools and universities granting entry only on performance values and NOTHING else can quickly create a mindset shift towards personal responsibility to perform. If its free, there is no excuse “but we were poor”. It is not as one-dimensional, I know, and I am willing to engage in a detailed process of reform. I grew up in Germany. My parents didn’t have a car until I was 13 and we bought our first TV when I was 14. The German primary school goes only to grade 4. After that, pupils are strictly sorted into 3 different branches. One academic, one more accounting and management focused and one practical one preparing students for practical professions such as mechanics, chefs, service industry. Only the academic Branch leads up to grade 12. More than 50 percent of German pupils finish school at grade 9 or ten to continue training on the job. Only the best get accepted into university. If students fail at exams,  they lose their right to study. This creates a much more performance oriented environment that what I currently observe in South Africa where matric is for everyone and everyone things they have a right to study. In the meantime in the rural areas there is still illiteracy and a general lack of scientific knowledge. 

Hope is available. South Africa is a deeply religious nation, with people’s lives generally circling closely around their church. I have been working for an evangelical, Lutheran Mega-Church in Stuttgart, Germany before. Stable, community-involved, respected. South Africa is, sadly, deeply divided across denominations. I was surprised to discover that every stationery shop (CNA etc) stacks up on Joyce Meyer’s books and Christian movies. On the other hand, the traditional churches seem to have a strong fear of engaging in cooperation with the more, carefully put, lively, pentecostal churches although I have found some charismatic movements here to be more conservative than the evangelical church I have been serving in Germany! But some awesome, progressive minded folks get the goosebumps when my churches homepage mentions things like prophetic words although prophecy is an important biblical pillar of the way God communicates with His people.

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Teaching kids drama in their free time.

Can we put our preferences aside for the greater good? We weren’t born into a denomination, and I love hearing a person’s whole life story before I draft an opinion. There are reasons why some feel safer and closer to God with the sound of a pipe organ and others need the element of dance to worship. Speaking of right and left brained … 🙂

I believe in South Africa and the whole African continent, churches are a crucial factor in future positive development. Churches are able to mobilize thousands, hundreds of thousands of volunteers to massively impact communities. Churches must also engage in fruitful dialogue with the powers that be, to bless, to inspire, to correct. I do not see church as a parallel sunday universe. I see church as the personified body of Christ pouring out blessings over the individual believer, their families, businesses, communities and the country as a whole.

In our church, there are no unemployed people. As pastors we are not greedy with our expertise. We care deeply about the individual and take a lot of time carefully assessing their strength and weaknesses, suggesting and even sponsoring courses for betterment, helping with CVs and job application. At our church, we network with local businesses to connect job seekers with applicable employment opportunities.

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Local High Schoolers cleaning up town as a Youth Group initiative.

This year I want us to concentrate more on blessing the educational institutions in our town. In dialogue with other South African Education Activists, these are some points we find ALL churches should engage in supporting:

NUTRITION. Our children are hungry & can’t concentrate without food

In Europe schools generally provide breakfast and lunch for a minimum fee, children from needy backgrounds or families with lots of kids pay a reduced amount or get the meal free.

We need to put so much more pressure on the government, petitions and all to use OUR tax money for the education system, because in a decade, those kids will be the ones paying taxes. Need to get the government to understand the reasoning: Care for the young generation means eventually caring for themselves too. Yes, I hear the raised flags “do not promote a sense of entitlement”. In my opinion, every child is entitled to food. Rather give out free school lunches than child grants to teenage mothers who use it for fashion items.

It is easy and possible for churches to provide sandwiches for needy kids in a rotation system. Monday NG kerk, tuesdays the Anglicans, wednesdays the Faith church, thursdays AFM and friday the Jesus Freaks. With that amazing variety of churches in any given South African town, the kids would sure get a variety of sandwiches.

Parents also need to be taught about nutrition. I do that about once a year in a seminar at church and regularly in personal counseling. The food quality plays a big role in fighting concentration and behavioural problems as well. Churches can and HAVE TO be a place of practical life-style lessons.

Fotoshoot 019PASTORAL CARE for teachers, parents & learners. Most schools don’t have access

My church www.emmanuellife.org has been sponsoring 2 youth workers in our local high school, primary school and Air Force Base school for the past 5 years. We have done so first through Gateway/Clay (don’t know if you heard of them, excellent program) and now on our own account because the requirements in our community grew very high. All three principals commend us on the measurable difference the Youth Worker makes in the school by having an on-site counselor (drug use gone dramatically back) and free after school programs (Jan is doing Hip Hop and won some national awards with the kids) as well as life orientation classes.

I myself have been actively involved teaching free classes at the local primary school before my babies came along. Now our Children’s Church manager whom I am training is doing that while I oversee our preschool leading 50 children from age 2 to grade R.

What I dream about improving: Giving free motivational sessions to teachers in rural areas. Even with my white Afrikaans teachers I discover the educational psychology is as good as non existent. Varsity seems to have taught only the subject knowledge and not the pedagogics of how to get information across?

Classes are way too big, and most subjects are taught frontally, not via group sessions. Rural schools and even lots of classes here in Louis Trichardt that I witnessed (perks of being a foreigner, you can just ask to come in and learn) do school according to the parrot method. Repetition instead of intrinsic understanding.

Pastors are able to offer once in a while motivation and practical insight away from the plain subject, into the psychologies of learning.

Besides that, of course yes, pastors need to be there to debrief teachers after traumatic events. Many teachers deal with violence on a regular basis, and do not know how to respond to students personal tragedies well.

On March 3rd I am doing a trauma counseling seminar with Barbara Louw at our local church, many teachers will attend.

PARENTING GUIDANCE: Educators need parents who know how to be a good parent

Churches are able to offer good parenting courses. So far I did two on my own, plus I am having a weekly class for young mothers with toddlers, giving tips about early stimulation.

It would be marvelous to connect over those uneccessary denominational boundaries to offer regular parenting courses. We all need support, they just don’t make the children like they used to 🙂 I plan in bringing in La Leche legue as well to start a nursing support group. Post Natal depression is more common than we admit, and it all starts there.

READING SUPPORT: Most effective literacy programmes are where adults read w/ learners

Many churches teem with individuals who would love to get involved at some level. At least in my group of churches a lot of people’s aspirations are towards a place on stage in the praise and worship team. Getting individuals to take responsibility for a class of our multi-racial children’s church deserves a medal, it is not easy. A lot of ladies love going to the old age home, I think it is because it looks sweet and social to arrive with a basket of goods. No problem with that. We need to push a reader-mentorship program and I owuld not like to invent the bike over again. Can’t we have a nation wide, advertised program like that where churches can oversee and support it in their local communities? The better the posters and TV ads, the more volunteers. People do a lot if it makes them feel good about themselves.

LOVE & APPRECIATION for teachers so that they know how important their work is

Yes, churches are called to encourage the community. It is as simple as packing some surprises for the teachers!

AFTER-SCHOOL CENTRES for our children. Parents work & children need to be cared for

Currently busy working on that here in my church. The need is big, the money to employ somebody is little. Again there is a big call for volunteers. If Suzy would do a craft once a week, instead of her ladies craft club she would teach little children? If we could get Pete to coach some cricket on thursdays? …

MOTIVATING learners & their parents to make education a key priority!

Our churches motto this year is “raising the standard. In practically every sermon we can start changing mindsets about sharpening your skills!

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Churches are able to MOBILISE active citizenship & urge all adults to help lead change in education.

Let me know what you think and ask your local pastor to read this post. Please.

The short and sweet of it #Education

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I feel I have the right to put my foot down in the discussion because I have been teaching South African children since 1998 and am still actively teaching pupils between 3 and 14 years old 4 times a week. So no head in the clouds here.

For the long version consult my previous post. https://germanytoafrica.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/education-and-twitter-activism/

This is what stays behind in my mind after chewing through the comments of all those that want to #advanceSA and #buildSa on Twitter, while comparing those excited, inspired online tweets with our South African daily reality.

1. Discussions need a common framework to start from. Host needs to set up page with agreed definitions.

2. Entrepreneurs seem to feel they do not need the educational system of the country. Now, I agree there are brilliant self-taught personalities out there. I will gladly take them on in a discussion any day, because I am myself a wizzkid, autodidact and fast thinker. Nevertheless there is a need for intelligence hubs such a universities. You brilliant mind who feels he’s got business down to a t. What do you want to entrepreneur with? Sell a service or a product and make a profit?

Now, without advancing South Africa’s education on a big scale, your base level service deliverer will not be high-end excellence if the country does not provide great education from the start. Using gastronomy as a service example: An entrepreneur in a country where the average general education level is low, will have trouble finding clued up waiters who come with a set of skills. If a costumer asks for the ingredients of a specific dish and gets a friendly smile and an “Eish… come again?” for an answer, the Chef’s reputation will suffer no matter how excellent his dishes are. South Africa is big on friendliness paired with utter ignorance. Your average waiter does not know what is an allergen let alone will be able to point possible allergens out to an inquiring customer. I find myself regularly explaining to waiters that at the start of their shift they MUST find out what is the soup of the day and how it’s made, and which dishes are prepared fresh from scratch that day  (I absolutely can not stand the taste of frozen and re-cooked food!). Now why would that be necessary for a costumer to do?

Because the general South aFrican Entrepreneur has not cared to go and intern overseas to see the advantages of a broadly educated labour force. I believe one skilled employee can achieve more profit for your business than 15 hired hands. Challenge me on it. I will prove it to you on so many levels.

3.We all heard the fantastic argument that bringing in one guy with high-tech machinery instead of 20 road side hands will destroy jobs in the country. Goodness guys, do you really just think hand in mouth? Those 20 road side hands will always stay that, if you build your country on keeping them uneducated. They will earn a marginal salary, not being able to advance the country’s yearly turnover by buying more goods, they will not be able to send their kids to better schools. They will stay your poor people. And their kids, and their kids after them. And you thought you are doing good by keeping those jobs.

The government must provide free for all tertiary education and job related training in partnership with the big industries of the country. It takes 1 welder about 5  kg of metal and a day to make a wheelbarrow. Skilled engineers need 10 grams of metal and transform it into a cellphone. An average gold mine produces a mere 5 grams of gold per ton of rock, sometimes less depending on the local geology. The same amount of recycled cell phones may contain near 200 grams of the precious metal. A ton of used cellphones is likely to contain well over 100 kilograms of copper, also a valuable resource and 3 kilograms of silver.

Now get my drift here: With very little raw material and highly skilled employees we can start creating real value in the country. Why keep your work force ignorant when you can have them skilled. Entrepreneurs should start seeing that their livelihood relies on the education of the people.

This is of course unless you are a cheapo and make a living by importing  cheap goods from China and sell them for a profit? THAT kind of thinking gets Africa into trouble as it exploits the poor even more. I am always shocked to see that it’s the poorest of the poor who get to buy a ten Rand toy made in China with the only guarantee that it will break in a day. How heart breaking. The government should implement a standardised technological quality test, like the German TÜV. http://www.hgv-europe.com/development/tuevgsappproval/index.html

Entrepreneurs get your ethics up. Made in South Africa can become a quality trade mark if you push it.

4. Government, start to care about people. Free preschools with university-trained teachers for all. Country wide. In the Valley of a thousand hills, in the Townships, in the tropical forests villages. Government trains and pays the teachers. Result: All grade 1s start at same level, knowing their native language and english fluently and have an acceptable level of general knowledge. Now the primary schools can concentrate on their curriculum instead of battling with so many different standards of understanding.

5. Vocational Colleges and Universities have to be free. Every child must grow up knowing if he concentrates on his studies, all doors will be open in later life.

What do you think about that?

Education and Twitter Activism

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South African pupils I have been teaching

Hi there.

I recently started to have a lot of fun on twitter. Living in South Africa for 7 years I have been doing my best trying to understand this diverse nation’s many layers from within. Europe, and I guess the rest of the world, has their own pre-conceived ideas about South Africa and I still find it difficult to explain South Africa’s reality to my folks overseas. I might dedicate another post to the warped Africa “romanticism” by the western world that South Africans themselves aren’t even aware of. I mean, at school in Germany lots of kids had Nelson Mandela and Anti-Apartheid stickers and badges all over their bags, and multi-cultural festivals display peaceful dancers in leopard skins singing ancient songs. The usual consent is: Just leave Africans alone, white people are bad and exploiting the continent. Africans are best left to live and hunt like 1000 years ago. Those general European ideas, looking so tolerant at first, are so racist on so many levels without even being aware of that. But that’s really not what I want to write about. To give a frame of reference though: In South Africa when I mention the young generations lack of exposure to quality education, certain people’s arms go up defensively assuming I talk about the black kid from the town ship. Guys, I live in a predominately white Afrikaans neighbourhood and most kids I meet here have much less access to education and exposure to the wider world than their European counterparts. When I write about South African kids, I mean them all. See picture of my students.

I have been trying to find my feet and a purpose living and working in South Africa, dealing with a different kind of life and death challenge on a daily base. As a counselor I am working with people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds. I trauma counsel, advise, help in life orientation and motivate.

In my “former life” I worked as a speech and family therapist, College lecturer, researcher. I have a BA in media science and a MA in Educational Science and Psychology. So naturally, I am passionate about education.

What set me aback big time coming to South Africa was the bad quality of the public education system, starting with horrible facilities (no psychologist consulted in the make up of noisy, dark classrooms with lots of desks behind each other, huge class sizes (I was used to 14 to 20 kids in a class, here over 30 is common), short periods (how can any child settle into a subject in 30 minutes) and worst of all: it is not for free. Parents have to pay high school fees plus books and stationary plus school uniforms.

In Germany all education is free. There are no school uniforms. If you can not afford the books, apply and you get them for free.

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Typical display at a German bakery. You study (incl. apprenticeship) 5 years to be a baker Master. Only with that title can you open your own accredited shop. That ensures high quality! Still the Master baker does not sit in an office like South African bosses do. He gets up at 3 every morning, kneads the dough, makes the pastries. And he loves it. He does not dream of employing an unskilled person to do it for cheap. He will maybe have an apprentice and pass on his secrets, with pride. Germany has thought this is a great system for 600 years and it has ensured wealth and happyness for all. South Africa please wake up and learn work ethics.

The whole German education system is free and based on performance. If your marks are right by the time you reach 5th grade, you qualify for the better type school. No matter what background. Compulsory pediatrician visits throughout your childhood scan if your parents are properly looking after you. If not, the government offers free sessions with a speech therapist, movement therapist or other, to make sure kids get a shot at life no matter where they are from. The pressure to perform is high, kids having sex and catching STDs like in Africa is totally uncommon. They know at a young age, if they do not study, they wont be going to University. It is NOT mom and dad’s money that gets you in. Universities are NOT places of party, they are places to prepare for life. Germany does not favour cheap unskilled labour. Any baker or butcher has to properly study and make his Master’s before being allowed to provide food to the public. High qualification requirement ensure high quality products that retrieve high market prices. That guarantees an overall wealth for the nation.

I repeat, University is free. If you can not afford your housing and food, the government will even provide a student loan of which you pay back 50% later in life when you have an income.

I regret that so far both the South African broader public and Government haven’t realized the essential call for quality education in order to advance South Africa into a nation that has a high general life standard for the average citizen.

South Africa has a wealth of yet unused agricultural lands but lacks the expertise to transform raw materials into high-end goods. Why import Lindt chocolate? Too impatient to build proper factories where we carefully conche best quality cacao ourselves? Woolworth is definitely on the right track there, with their speedy improvement in the food department over the last couple of years. And the costumers love them for it. All our industries should learn from that. It takes skilled scientists to produce quality products. South Africans have a romantic picture of an Entrepreneur in his little shop … this is so yesterday.

I am dreaming of a South Africa that can proudly compete with the rest of the world in the arena of high tech products, not just in tourism!!!

South Africa has a wealth of yet untapped precious minerals and other natural resources. We would not need to import as much finished products as we do, if we would focus on training young people to be experts. Japan has no natural resources to draw on but the minds of its people. They didn’t waste their time with pointing who is all racists. They looked at the market, educated their people and produce world-wide respected high-end goods.

Made in Germany is a guarantee for high quality that lasts, isn’t it. That mentality starts in Kindergarten and is instilled throughout school and university. My 62 year old dad is an inventor, entrepreneur, pastor and engineer. He still, at his age, gets up at 4 in the winter time, braves the frost and ice to hands on oversea high way building sites, if necessary climbing into sewers to fix power lines. I do not know a south african engineer who does that. Instead, they will pay 20 or more cheap labourers equipped not with high-tech tools but, as I witnessed, with old Ricoffee cans, to climb into the mess and try to scoop out water. Usually one climbs in, 15 watch, two wave a red flags at cars. The engineer waits at his office for the report.

In the end, we still have power outages at every single rainstorm, the 20 labourers earn a pittance and stay unskilled for the rest of their life and the engineer vents his frustration at his family…

Now who is to blame for this system. The government? Racism? The TV for displaying success as not having to work?

South Africa can within the next 10 years (one circle of school attendance) start implementing a paradigm shift towards quality and prosperity. Our schooling system would be the vehicle on which to educate that revolution.

Via the media of twitter, of all things, I found myself suddenly connecting to mushrooming initiatives that are discussion how we can connect for #AdvancingSA, #buildSA, achieve Quality Education for SA #QE4SA

Have I been blind before or just too new to the scene to find out about those awesome people? Or is this just the right time, where South Africa is ready to stop pointing fingers at old racism and join hands across skin tones to really pursue progress?

So last Tuesday it was my first time ever, whoop whoop, to join a tweetchat on how to help South African entrepreneurs. The topic was how varsities can support entrepreneurs or if a true entrepreneur does not need university.

A heated discussion quickly polarised between those who believe in the self-made, self-sufficient man for whom varsity would be a waste of time, and those who believed you can teach skills and expertise.

What I found difficult during the discussion was that twitter with its legendary limit of 144 characters does not allow for any in-depth explanation. The participants surely did not share the same frame of reference.

First: Define Entrepreneur. what makes him different from a business man.

Define what you mean when talking of varsity, are you plainly referring to business studies.

Etc.

Of course there are a couple of coaches trying to use the platform to get business. Maybe their intention is not to advance the country but rather catch some business? And there are those who immediately “suck up” to the coaches, rather looking for approval than to engage in meaningful discussion. Not all coachesw are like that, there are for sure some real necessary ones who have the greater good of the nation in mind. But some guys, goodness, can you not see your statements logical consequences materialize in ten years time? You think varsities are unnecessary because you want to be the only star at the horizon? The kind of coaches we need are those who come in, assess, come alongside the organisation and work together in makign things better. They provide access to information hubs, and do not bash the efforts of others. In my experience the ones who scream loudest against other organisations are the ones who accomplish the least.

All in all it was a very fun experience, leaving me fruitfully frustrated:

If I understand it right, in South Africa mainly rich kids get to attend university. That leaves the children from poor backgrounds already unmotivated during school years “why try harder, I wont make doctor anyway”.

The rich kids then waste their parents money on partying to an extend that shocks me. In Germany where education is free but depending solely on your personal performance, we do not have the luxury to spend time getting drunk and having sex excesses. We actually study hard to stay in the loop. Our professors are highly engaged in the practical world. Seminars of 20 to 40 students allow for personal development. I do not think at 17 or 18 you are ready to be an entrepreneur. You need to be slowly finding your feet in the wider market. University provides would be entrepreneurs with the skills to create a high end product, read the marked, do their maths.

The tweet chat entrepreneurs were convinced they do not need all that. Again: frame of reference. Talk to me about your product and I tell you how varsity would improve your business in the long-term.

The tweeps were highly into coaching. I do acknowledge the need of coaching in certain life and buisness situations. People in the tweetchat demanded: Every business man has to mentor at least one newbie. Good and admirable, but when I had the honest question WHY would a business man spend his limited, valuable time on mentoring a young person other than the proverbial reward in heaven (which I said with a smile, meaning it ironic) I only got an outcry of one about me preaching the gospel? I was tempted to reply “Hold your horses, pumpkin, don’t you know the first thing about sarcasm, all I am trying is to ask in 144 characters about what would be in it for the mentor”, because, obviously, there are no free mentors out there in South Africa.

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Every South African child needs to have a realistic shot at bettering themselves through free tertiary education depending only on your performance, not race, not financial background or connections.

Wait, there are, actually. Called pastors? Back to gospel, pumpkin 🙂

Seriously. I conclude that a lot of people are still too much in it for them selves rather than honestly wanting to help South Africa arrive at a new mindset of well deserved prosperity.

My conviction is that without free, high quality education including free, performance based tertiary education there is no way to solve any current issue South Africa faces.

I am calling on churches as independent “not-in-it-for-monetary-gain” institutions to drive this home to politicians and business people.

We do not use our resources to the max  because our labour basis is unskilled.

Cheap labour is a curse, not a blessing. 1 educated, hard-working person gets more done without the amount of collateral damage than 14 cheap hired hands.

No child grows up dreaming of becoming the guy who waves the red flag at a building site. All children should grow up having the same, performance based change of becoming a doctor or astronaut, their dreams fuelling their study ethic.

The government must be pressured to put the ta payers money back into education. From the smallest village to the big cities, literacy and general knowledge must be driven to saturation.

Tertiary education must include mandatory periods of practical labour. In Germany, every student has to work at base level in his field of study for at least 3 months during BA level and up to 2 years during MA levels.

There MUST come in quality standards in all fields. Backyard creches in the dirt should be illegal. The government must provide free access to government financed preschools for every child. Preschool teachers must be formally trained and accredited and paid by the government as it standard in Europe. Why does the developed world provide so much more for its citizens than the South African government who put on its flags to erase disadvantages and provide equal opportunities?

Entrepreneurs need to sponsor schools and individuals. In the USA this is normal, the Rockefeller foundation sets up schools and hospitals and the local business at least sponsors a after-care facility. In South Africa I hardly ever see a bench in a park put up by anyone.

Poor public engagement of the rich and beautiful! The high and mighty don’t currently care to put up some play things in a public park for kids, I wonder how we can change that attitude and make them proud doing so?

“This public fountain, benches and flower beds where proudly sponsored by Zuma’s wife no.3, dedicated with love to the citizens of Malaphalla” – wouldnt that be nice? That’s standard in the wealthy nations.

South Africa, you lack expertise, work ethics and a view beyond the rim of your own tea-cup.

I am definitely going to put myself out there to engage in productive dialogue with those who can change things. Thanks for tuning in,

Christiane

Of Fairies and Shepherds

Clearing out superstitions and giving practical advise to realise Godly vision

God has placed a very special character trait into South Africans – a creative freedom that has been allowed to thrive in a rather non-restrictive environment. Due to a minimum of legislation around new business ideas Southafricans pride themselves in a unique entrepreneurial mindset. Don’t fight me on this, chaps. If you think Southafrican bureaucracy is stifling, try to just get certified for freelancing in Germany. If you dare to produce anything, be prepared to undergo tedious quality controls and approval procedures this country hasn’t ever dreamed about. I of course still love the German system, if I buy a chair I am certain it won’t break even if used for other purposes than merely sitting on it, whereas an ordinary Southafrican chair might just give in when you get nervous about the stock exchange. But in Germany there is no such thing as a weekend diploma enabling you to call yourself a certified nutrition specialist etc!). The downside of the ease in which people are allowed to open businesses on which a person or even several families will place their whole livelihood is that due to a lack of know how and work ethic, many small businesses are closed as frequently as they are opened, putting many families through trauma of not being adequately provided for.
One of the main needs smaller and medium-sized communities have from their pastors is sound advice for individual business solutions. There is no money for bringing in specialized advisors, and since everybody agrees that without God’s blessing success isn’t likely to happen, the pastor is the one brought in to help and more than often to try to save the business.

What amused me up to a point of annoyance in our many encounters with struggling businesses and farmers is a rather fairy tale like approach many Christians display when it comes to biblical principles.

A desperate business owner will “sow” some money into the church and expect business return to triple this month. A farmer will give R 5000 to a charitable project and expect God to “make it” R500.000 in wins for him at the end of the onion harvest.
Now that might work if there was something like a business fairy godmother handing out magic potions. I have not, however, found scriptural grounds for such an equation.
That mindset is widespread.

People expect God to “bless” their business if they just sow a financial seed elsewhere, regardless of business habits and procedures they use. If it’s not happening, they will start blaming God, the pastor, the church and end up starting their own “ministry” because that seems to be a general “bounce back” route for failed business owners: start “Frickies global ministry” . Not to get cynical here, let me illustrate what I mean.
Take Koosie. Koosie bought a drilling machine, a dowsing rod and a computer with a printer, employed two friends and had some signs printed saying: “yet another boorgat (borehole) by Koosie enterprises”.
He goes to work. Excited over some success in drilling for water Koosie buys a new house and makes a lot of debt. Him and his friends are putting in over hours to get the business to expand and buy another second-hand drilling machine from a scrapyard. The machine gives problems every second day and it takes a third guy to come and fix it. In the meantime Koosies wife takes money out of the petty cash in the office to pay stationary for their boy and some new shoes, and tomorrow she pays the maid from it. None of it ever gets recorded. For a while, the drilling picks up. Koosie’s marriage however suffers because he is never at home. To make up for it, he invests business money into building a dance studio for his wife’s sister who wants to start a ballet school. Before this gets completed, she meets a handsome stranger and heads off into sunset with him. The dance studio can still become a granny flat, but by now Koosies scrap yard machine has gone to meet its maker and business is slow. They will have to send their two young sons away to friends over christmas because there is no money for food or gifts.
That’s where we as pastors come in.

(That’s why we never go away over december by the way, because at the end of the year, lots of proverbial paw- paws hit the fan and we need to come and clean up the mess.)
“Why did God allow this to happen? We bought 2000 rand of clothes for orphans last year!”
Now exactly what the poor orphans have to do with bad business habits I do not know, that’s the fairies department. The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget attributed that kind of reasoning to children under seven years: I behaved good so the apple tree will bring good fruits for me. Children nine years and older already reason that apples will be produced rather from good soil .

We all agree that superstition plays a big part in African indigenous cultures. Christianity historically played a big role freeing people from magical thinking by teaching them to use the gifts God has placed inside them wisely.  People need to be taught how to apply sober reasoning to their decisions which is what Jesus taught: Luk 14:28  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he may have enough to finish it.
Yes, Jesus also taught about the principal of sowing and reaping . However, His famous example of the sower (Luke 8 verses 5 ff) clearly refers to the word of God being sown into our hearts, bringing thirty, sixty and hundred fold fruit in our lives depending on the state of our hearts and the diligence of how we put the word into practice. It does not give us a mathematical equation for donating some money and expecting a multiple return. We are to give funds out of love and concern for God’s kingdom and our neighbour, “so that there might be bread in the house of the Lord (Malachi 3:10)”. And God does promise that faithful stewardship of finances in the area of giving will be rewarded.

But that does not guarantee business success when we implement wrong habits.
There is no limit to the areas of life we touch in our counseling. Dealing with debt, getting a degree, managing your staff better, strategic advertising, time management, getting over past disappointments – all in a days work.  It’s often frustrating to find out that small business owners don’t even invest into a good auditor, and don’t keep track of their money, don’t pay their taxes properly. Are we as churches called to advise in such “unchurchy” topics? I believe if the body of Christ wants to shine a light on this earth it has to happen in all fields of daily life.

I am newly energised with fresh vision if I see the Church changing the way she sees herself and her role in society. Training courses will shift from bible knowledge and information to practical involvement in helping one another and utilizing each other’s experience to serve our communities. Succesful businesses are able to generate funds  used to practically facilitate change in people’s lives and not for buildings or luxuries. Exciting children’s ministry, community projects to aid children’s education and sporting events will be normal part of church life. This way, the communities’ relationships with congregations and churches will become stronger. True shepherding to me means that empowerment of community members will come from the church and not the government.

Shepherds sharpen their tools by learning and opening themselves up for fruitful connection outside the ministry circle.

Shepherds are spiritual fathers and mothers with the expertise of many years in many practical fields. Such skilled leaders will be progressively more called into government meetings and been asked for their advice. That’s what I hope and pray for, a change of this beautiful nation through Christians who take up their responsibility towards their communities and stop waiting for somebody else to “do something about it”. I hope many churches will follow the call and practically start training their members for successful personal, spiritual and professional life.

In the end, the poor and orphaned around us will benefit from Christians who get involved in uplifting their community from a place of success and responsibility, not out of guilt and superstition. They will help because they are moved, not because they hope for an automated benefit for themselves.

So, and now I am going to have a christmas mince-pie.