Greetings from the Savanna community! After a wonderful festive season and exciting start to the New Year, we are eager to share a few updates from our community projects. If you didn’t get a chance to view photos from our Christmas celebrations at both the Tiyimiseleni Home Based Care Centre and Hlayisekani Nursing Home, please visit our Facebook page, where you’ll see some snapshots of special gifts, good food, big smiles and enthusiastic dance performances. We would like to extend a huge thanks to our sponsors who helped ensure that some very deserving children and elderly people enjoyed such merry Christmas celebrations, ending 2018 with lots of joy, love and gratitude.

We’ve been able to begin the year with some significant renovation projects at the Hlayisekani Nursing Home. Bringing some much-needed relief in the heat of the summer, we installed fans into all of the wards, as well as in the kitchen and dining-room. The kitchen received a major refurbishment, now complete with newly-tiled floors, a wonderful centre counter and loads of built-in cabinets. We were also able to expand the showers in the older wing, build a new storeroom and complete a great deal of general maintenance work, including paint touch-ups, new curtain rods and bathroom upgrades. Thank you to the incredible sponsors who helped to make these facility improvements possible. 

In partnership with Stichting Een Aarde, we have also been able to start a new housing project this year for a Tiyimiseleni family in need. Zinzle (age 13) and Enough (age 6) have received support from Tiyimiseleni since 2010. They live with their single mother, who is HIV+ and has no source of household income. The Tiyimiseleni team provides food packages to the family on a regular basis and has identified the household as particularly vulnerable.

We have been able to work with the family to design a more safe and comfortable living space. In the photo to the right, Zinzle and her mother stand in front of the single room structure that is their existing home. Soon, this will be transformed into a new kitchen. Over the course of the past few weeks, our local team of builders has started to construct a toilet and washroom for the family, pictured to the right. They have also started laying the foundation for a new two-bedroomed house, all surrounded by a secure fence to keep them safe. With many thanks for Stichting Een Aarde’s support, we look forward to sharing updates of building progress in our next newsletter.

School uniforms are important in South Africa. They level the playing field in the classroom and aim to ensure that pupils’ focus remains where it should be – on learning. For a student in Mabarhule, a new uniform costs approximately R500. The children at Tiyimiseleni, who often come from families without any household income, this cost is simply impossible to cover. Drawing on many of the incredible donations we received throughout the year for Tiyimiseleni, we were able to purchase school uniforms for each child in need. Thanks to all the support from so many of you, the children pictured to the left and below are able to step into the classroom with much higher self-esteem, as they focus on their studies this year. We cannot thank you enough for this essential gift.

Mketse Primary School in the nearby village of Justicia has 651 students from Grade R (kindergarten) to Grade 7, many of them orphans and vulnerable children. Mketse has 10 classrooms, with an average class size of 60 students. 

One block of these classrooms dates back to the school’s establishment in 1991. While Principal David Mbeva is proud of the newer classrooms that have been built since then (including one with support from Savanna sponsors), he expresses grave concern about the state of the older building. Structurally unsound, the classrooms are far from the conducive learning environment that Mketse teachers and staff strive to provide for their children. 

This February, we assisted in removing an archway attached to this old building with a deep crack that could have caused a tall pillar to fall down outside one of the classrooms, an obvious immediate safety concern to Mketse’s teachers and students. We are currently in the process of assessing the feasibility of undertaking more substantial refurbishments of the classroom block. If you or anyone in your network would be interested in assisting with this project, we would be happy to provide more detailed information.

As David explains, “If you learn in a good environment, everything changes.” Below are photos of a newer wing of classrooms, which makes all the difference to the children’s learning experience.

To conclude this first newsletter of the year, we should like to share some reflections on the purpose of our work and goals to take us forward. To do that, we asked the individuals leading the work on the ground to share these messages in their own words. Finance Officer Betty Sibiya starts by emphasising why she chooses to work at Tiyimiseleni: “When I work here, I’m always with my children. Making sure they eat and they are safe. We want to sustain our garden this year, because it helps a lot. We are giving food from the garden to the vulnerable community members at home and even to our children. We also have the goal of supporting our older children with employment and education opportunities after high school.”

At the elderly home, Nyiko emphasises that this year is about upskilling staff and prioritising sustainability to achieve high quality care for his elderly residents in the long term: “We want the elderly residents to be comfortable and feel at home at Hlayisekani. We want them to receive the care they need. We want to continue to train our staff to provide this proper care. We will be engaging more local nurses and doctors to achieve this goal in 2019. We also want to develop the sustainability plan for the organization. This includes reaching out to different foundations for resources and to planning for income-generating activities at the centre.”

Both teams want us to extend their appreciation to all of you – for your visits, your encouragement and your support over this past year. You have helped us achieve so much, and we look forward to an incredible 2019 in the community. 

Please let us know if you or anyone in your network would like to help us achieve or learn more about any of these project goals. As always, we thank you sincerely for your support and would be glad to share more detailed information. Feel free to send us an email at community@savannalodge.com. We look forward to continued collaboration to support community upliftment in the villages surrounding the Sabi Sand.

With warm wishes
The Savanna Trust Team

Donations can be made directly to our Savanna Trust account:
The Savanna Trust (140-372 NPO / Not VAT registered)
Account no: 1077445776
Universal code: 198765
Branch: Business Banking Mpumalanga
Swift code: NEDSZAJJ
Name bank: Nedbank Nelspruit
Address bank: Brown Street, Nelspruit
Province/City: Mpumalanga Nelspruit

You can also donate online here. Guidance:

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