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2003 Newsletter

What were we doing in 2003?

We had a total of 10 volunteers this year and we have worked in the primary schools of Tshakhuma and the Special School at Tshilidzini, assisting Teachers and Principals with organisational skills, classroom management and teaching methods. We have also worked extensively with local Home Based Care Groups, including the (CPC) Centre for Positive Care, (OVC) Orphans and Vulnerable Children, the Limpopo Women's Aids Project and the Hlanganani Centre for the Elderly. We have been training on educational issues plus HIV/AIDS/relationships and how to care for people in their own homes.

In health workshops we have been able to address issues affecting the spread of HIV such as gender equality, facts and fiction about HIV/AIDS and safer sex. Having worked in the communities we have seen first hand examples of prejudice and stigma towards those both infected and affected by HIV. Discussing these issues has formed a large part of the workshop content, in the hope that an open forum and education on HIV will lead to better understanding.

Direct Relief International

Linda Mannas, co-ordinator, was introduced to a doctor from the USA who wanted her to act as co-ordinator for Direct Relief International. This is an organisation that donates medical supplies to countries and areas, which are in great need. This involved liaising with a variety of local groups and helping them to fill in the correct paper work and documentation. Having accompanied the volunteer caregivers on home visits we believe that the most beneficial item would be a constant donation of medical gloves as they have been using plastic bags up until now. However with the government's recent introduction of bag tax, their reluctance of reusing plastic bags more than once may have to be over-ridden.

Making Connections

Linda has developed links and had meetings with the Centre for Positive Care and the Love Life group, who raise awareness of HIV issues with young people. We have agreed to work closely together supporting each other's work in the future. We may be able to use the CPC organisation to deliver a container of second hand clothes and goods, and small boxes of shoes. Only about 20% of children have shoes and when it rains and is cold they suffer. So please don't throw old shoes out especially children's.

Linda has also had meetings with the Department of Education and obtained written confirmation of her position in the community. It is hoped that this will help us to obtain further funding to help the projects with much needed skills and resources.

By holding workshops at Pfuxanani Youth Centre we have helped to get people into the centre and see the possible courses they can follow. Some of the families visited by the caregivers appeared malnourished so a link was made enabling these families to receive fresh vegetables from the Peace Garden started by Pfuxanani. Hopefully the link will be permanent but we will check again in 6 months time.

Another link which we hope will continue long after we have left is between the NGO Limpopo Women Against HIV/AIDS and Pfuxanani.

What is happening with the land?

In 2002 Linda was given a piece of land in Tshakhuma by Chief Matzebandele. We are going to use it for the Community. In 2003 we have negotiated the exact position of the land near to the fruit market and plans have been drawn up by an architect friend. By July 2004 we hope to have the land cleared and the foundations laid for a combined centre for educational resources, the CPC and a tourist stop. It is hoped that this tourism stop/tea garden will fund this community centre where we can carry out training workshops. The land and the centre will remain the property of the community

We also helped rebuild a 'cultural village' that was burnt down by a bush fire. We learnt the skills of carrying wood, mixing mud and building walls with it, plus making mud and dung floors with our hands, great fun but hard work!

Making Progress

We are well on the way to obtaining registration as an official charity in the UK and hope to have the paperwork completed very soon.

A Swiss organisation called SOLON, based in Durban has agreed to fund some of the transport, accommodation and communication costs of the project. For this we are very grateful to Cecily Salmon who visited us. This will make life so much easier and the project more able to carry out its tasks.

Often it is hard to see the progress being made as things happen quite slowly in Africa. However the workshops in the schools and the care centres were a great success and this was evidenced by an evaluation sheet given to all groups and a certificate awards ceremony held at the end of 3 months.

As time goes by the Mashudu Projects are gradually being recognised by the wider community of the Vhembe District of the Limpopo Province as a positive force that deals with 'Education' in the widest possible sense and is available for support when required. The mobile number is held by many on their cell phones and used often.

What now? Funding?

We have learnt many things along the way, especially regarding using our initiative and now we have to work to raise money to fund the building of the centre and providing much needed resources for the various projects with which we are working. If anyone has any great ideas or would like to do some fund raising of their own or is interested in helping on one of the projects please do not hesitate to contact Linda Mannas

Registered Charity Number 1101770
Created by Simon Jarvis