Posts Tagged ‘Fezeka Secondary’

Fezeka School, local educators, and Education without Borders volunteers have been organizing a series of motivational talks for students. Ted and Roger, two local volunteers who have been involved with EwB for some time, teamed up with EwB project manager Vimbai, and guest speaker Unathi, to talk to 50 grade nine students. To learn more about Vimbai, please visit this page: http://www.educationwithoutborders.ca/node/124

Here is some feedback from Roger about Unathi’s talk.

Dear Unathi and Vimbai,


Let me once again thank you, Unathi, for an outstanding presentation. There was no doubt in the mind of Ted, Vimbai and I that you really hit a few nails on the head with your eloquence and clarity. You make a wonderful public speaker. I attach a few photos. I also have some video. All will be put on a disc. I can have this ready for you when you return from France and when we meet I can pass it to you.


In one of the videos, you say “it’s not cool to not have a job and it’s not cool to sit at home.” I think this is powerful stuff. The fact that you were once again surrounded by eager learners, demonstrated their wish to learn more from you. The challenge for Vimbai and ourselves is to create follow up from these talks.


I also think the message that there are a variety of jobs is getting across. One expressed an interest in meteorology, the other being a pilot and the one that intrigued me was “how do I become a spy?”


All good stuff.

Below is a summary of some of Unathi’s key points of advice to the students, as well as some photographs (http://s1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd383/educationwithoutborders/Unathi%20-%20talk%20September%2015th%202011/) – Thanks to Ted Weber for these.

-There is career, a job, and a future out there for everyone

-Make a list of your ideal professions and then think where you are now what subjects you need to achieve this as a main goal.

-It is important to know and to focus now on your strengths

-Choose something you enjoy doing, not what you think others think you should enjoy.

-When difficulties occur, choose a teacher adult role model that you can identify with. Choose someone you can trust and who is respected in the community.

-Look for bursaries in the Sunday papers, the internet, or government training grants through Thetas

-Loosing bad friends early on School is a good thing. It is important to hang out with motivated good friends!

-School is a place to learn and prepare for your future, as well as having fun.

-It is no fun being 25 in a township without a job; so use school as a jumping board to get a good job!

-Unathi, who is a respected wine maker and scientist, discussed how agriculture is cool and how she liked nature biology, the trees, the outdoors, and was good at science. She explained to students how science, biology, and respect for nature are key to improving lives, and that there are many careers in these fields for motivated people and women.

Thanks for all the great feed back Ted, Roger and Vimbai on Unathi’s talk. I look forward to meeting Unathi and Vimbai, as well as some of the students when I visit Cape Town next time!



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Greg Hillyard is a Cape Town based professional photographer and local Education without Borders volunteer. Greg and EwB have developed a photography program designed to give at risk students a chance to find creative outlets through photography and visual media, while also connecting with the natural environment.

Recently Education without Borders and Greg organized a photography excursion into the surrounding Cape Town wilderness in association with a local NGO Educo. Below is a wonderful post from Greg about the event.


Amongst the clouds at Grootwinterhoek

By Greg Hillyard

We are truly blessed in the Western Cape with such a choice of awe inspiring destinations! In 2010 we were exploring the northern frontier on the banks of the Doring River whilst this year the lofty Grootwinterhoek reserve served as our photographic playground.

The reserve lies merely 120km from Cape Town and to the amazement of the students, Table Mountain can be seen far off in the distance. For more information on the reserve, go to the following links…


and to locate the campsite…


As with the previous year’s excursion, the reasons for choosing such a remote place were to show the students a completely new part of South Africa, so as to stimulate excitement, giving them the freedom to practice their photography in a beautiful and vast landscape, and of course give them a fond memory of their time in our care.

We set out from the Fezeka High at 2pm with a few delays but as the drive was not too far we were not stressed. The cameras were out and snapping, the voices rapping and soaring in song as we motored along, making our way towards a weekend of play. Mark Gamble of EDUCO had been complaining of a particularly hard week at the office and it was remarkable to see how the mirthful energy of the students totally moved him to a high state of enthusiasm and got his eyes sparkling once again.

One or two stops for petrol and supplies along the way and a few more delays for photographic opportunities saw the group trundle into the campsite. The sun was getting low and it was already cold at an altitude of one kilometre. With beanies on heads and jackets keeping us warm, we unpacked, started with supper and made a fire in the chalet whilst sorting out sleeping arrangements.

After wolfing down an impressive lamb stew, Mark assembled the group into a circle and led a very informative and clever check-in with all present. We were asked to be a traffic light and then give reasons for being a certain colour. Red if you were feeling bad, orange if you were ok but something was bothering you and green if you were super happy. We thankfully discovered through the one red that Asemahle had a serious tooth ache and we were able to administer pain killers so she could at least get a good night’s rest.

The rest of the evening was a blur of some very raucous singing and dancing. We have five budding thespians in the group and all were in full flight with the rest of the class joining in with djembe drums, dance or song. Somewhere in the mayhem we were quietened with a prayer for a classmate who was absent due to the tragedy of losing her mother the night before. We sent love her way and at the same time acknowledged how lucky we all were to be alive and full of youthful energy. After the prayers we watched a BBC documentary on the making of the “Living Planet” series just to show how photography can be used to communicate and as a source of income.

Saturday dawned bright beautiful and crisp! We were in for a great day! After breakfast we applied sun-cream and sauntered off into the pristine veld for a few hours. It was a photographer’s delight and Mark and I both found many moments to laugh at the antics of the enthusiastic photographers. They were clambering on top of rock formations, inside rock formations and were often seen on their knees in the dirt capturing flowers and insects. We picnicked at a Palmiet surrounded pristine red water pond that few dared to swim in. It was freezing, far colder than any Clifton experience. We created some group shots and then headed back to camp for a well earned afternoon siesta.

The sunset was spectacular and for this we walked to a lookout point where one could spot Table Mountain far into the hazy distance. It was a vast and quiet space and the beauty of the syrup like light gave us all a great opportunity to create some amazing moody and creative photographs. One by one we found our reasons to tear ourselves away from the fading light of the sunset and head back down in the dark to the chalet where preparations for supper were underway.

After a healthy braai we proceeded to play a variety of games in a variety of languages around the fireplace, accompanied by some song and dance of course. In stark contrast to the night before, by eleven o’ clock most students had run out of energy and proceeded to their dreams. With those that still had some gas in the tank we went for a night walk and tried our hand at night photography which proved to be a lot of fun.

The final day was very relaxed, the environment and the energy spent had affected everyone and we took our time eating breakfast and packing up. To bid farewell we climbed a short yet demanding little mountain to get one last bird’s eye view of the landscape.

Once again I count myself lucky to have been a part of this experience and would like to add my thanks to Sikhumbuzo, from last years class, for his sense of responsibility, enthusiasm and helping me manage this group of energetic young people throughout the year. Mark Gamble from EDUCO is an amazing person who is dedicated to social upliftment and has an amazing gift in communicating with the youngsters. I hope we will create many great experiences together in the future.

Thank you Ruth, Cecil and all at EwB for your support.

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As the world sets to turn its eyes on South Africa later this year for the UN Conference on Climate Change that will take place in Durban, South Africa is in the process of implementing its own commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as part of an effort by the country to reduce total emissions by 34% by 2020 and green up its smokey image.

Despite having a smaller economy, South Africa is a significant emitter of carbon per capita, surprisingly producing more than China and almost as much (8.8 tons versus 8.9 tons) as the United Kingdom. As shocking as this statistic may be, it is of no surprise if one considers that over 90% of South Africa’s energy is generate by coal powered plants – the dirtiest form of energy available.

A plan by SA energy developers to push through the development of as many as 88 new wind farms with a total of 2800 turbines in the Western Cape is being met by serious opposition, who claim the turbines will change the landscape and do not want them in their backyards. Yet with South Africa’s economic growth and increased population, the energy needs of the country continue unmet, and there is no option for ESKOM (SA’s national energy provider) to adopt wind turbine generated electricity as part of a global strategy to reduce carbon outputs while also increasing energy production.

South Africans are well aware of the country’ energy crisis, having lived through periods of highly disruptive rolling electricity blackouts over the past five years. These blackouts have cost the country significant economic growth and forced many South Africans to re-evaluate their energy habits and find innovative solutions.  At the Fezeka School, where Education without Borders is heavily involved, some 30 students, with the assistance of local organizations, assembled a small wind turbine from scrap and recycled materials. The turbine provides all of the electrical needs for the science room in the school, and forms an integral part in the schools science curriculum. Not only does the windmill provide free energy for the school, it also generates an interest in the practical importance of science, engineering, and energy conservation. The windmill installed in the school’s community garden and forms part of a more comprehensive environmental education program.

With all the controversy of giant windmill turbines and the spectre of further electricity blackouts, it appears the students at Fezeka School have shown that small and ingenious solutions provide a practical and less invasive means meeting energy needs.
Indeed, the answer is blowing in the wind.


i. http://www.cop17durban.com/Pages/default.aspx
ii. http://www.simplygreen.co.za/local-stories/earth-and-animals/sa-pleased-with-progress-at-climate-change-talks.html
iii. http://www.capetimes.co.za/88-wind-farms-mooted-in-province-1.1083801
iv. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/world/africa/31safrica.html
v. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yitxrpfRFY&feature=player_embedded

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Greg is a professional photographer who volunteers with Education without Borders. With EwB funds, he has built a photography program at Fezeka School and recently launched an innovative school journal and photography project with his students.

As part of his project, he asked students to journal a bit about their lives in their community. In addition to the journal he asked two of his students, Onita and Koko, to photograph their journal, while using cameras to further elaborate on some of their life experiences in their community. Greg sent me several pictures of their work, as well as a small quote from Koko’s diary:
She is the queen of my dreams. The girl that I see when I sleep and I don’t see myself loving any other girl other than her in my life. Without her my life is incomplete. I will stay with her through the ups and the downs. I will stay with her. She is the type of girl that I really wonna make ma wife. Also I put my faith in the man above us all. The Lord will make things happen, really love you Somikazi Dee J
And another quote, this one from Onita’s journal:
My lovely tree.

I present to you this tree. This tree plays the biggest role in our daily lives because we get oxygen to breathe from this tree. It also produces fruit as a source of food for us to eat. Without this tree we are nothing.
Thanks so much Greg for coming up with this idea. Also thank you to Onita, Koko, and all the students who participated. Hopefully down the road more students can access cameras and also experiment with putting some of their stories online with Education without Borders. Do the students have access to cameras? Do students have access to mobile phones with cameras?

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As a musician, lover of music, and confessed cinephile, I cannot resist a film that brings these together. One film that has caught my eye is a South African documentary currently making waves in South Africa and abroad, and it involves music, as well as students and staff from Fezeka School.

The film Fezeka’s Voice, a documentary that follows choimaster Phumi Tsewu and his students from their lives in the community of Gugulethu, to their success singing abroad in the United Kingdom, is not just an uplifting story, it is also a musical work in its own right.

Phumi Tsewu has been a teacher at Fezeka School for 15 years. As a teacher and choir master, Tsewu not only teaches his students how to make music, he also teaches them how to be good citizens. As Archbishop Tutu says, “Fezeka’s Voice is an important South African film. Its value is immeasurable…Fezeka’s Voice needs to be shared with as wide an audience as possible. The power of mentorship as demonstrated in this film is extraordinary…”

With Vancouver’s South African Film Festival coming in 2012, let’s keep our fingers crossed that this wonderful film will make it to the shores of the Pacific.

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Since arriving at Fezeka School in Gugulethu, South Africa, Angeline has been very involved in establishing the school library. Over the course of May and June, she has been working closely with various members of the Fezeka School staff and students to get the school library up and running.

Thanks to Angeline and her assistant, Phumza, the students and teachers at the school now have a fully operational library with a study and research area. This project involved a great deal of time and effort on the part of volunteers and teachers, and also required Angeline taking several courses on library management to sharpen her skills.

We look forward to seeing how the new library works for Fezeka School in the future! Congratulations to all who were involved in making this happen, and keep sending us pictures and more news!

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Phumza in the new Fezeka School library!

This past April I had the opportunity to visit South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique with a Canadian friend who had never been to Africa before. In Cape Town we did all the usual things a tourist would do in the Mother City, visiting the Waterfront, de Waterkandt, Table Mountain, Cape Point, Town, The Company Gardens, Muizenberg, Stellenbosch, and Camps Bay – yes there is a lot to see in Cape Town!

We also were treated to a unique visit to Gugulethu, Langa, and the Joe Slovo squatter camps with Education Without Borders volunteer Ted Weber as our guide. On the trip we stopped in at a couple of arts and crafts markets where Ted works with local guides developing tourism in the community. Our tour also took us to Fezeka School, where Education Without Borders has been involved since the early 1970’s. There we were treated to a guided tour of the school grounds and some of the buildings, and also met with several students. From what we saw on our tour it is was evident that Fezeka School, like most schools in South Africa faces vast challenges.

All of the classroom doors and windows at Fezeka School are covered with burglar bars and chicken wire to keep out burglars. While this keeps the burglars out, it sadly does not lend to creating a warm and hospitable learning environment. The communal areas of the school are also a far cry form the comforts enjoyed by students in the more privileged schools of Camps Bay, Ronderbosch, and Bishops.

Yet despite the challenges, good work is being done at Fezeka School. For example the school library, which was nothing more than a pile of books on a floor when we visited in April, is now a beautiful fully functioning school library with an inviting area for students and staff to study and read.

There are also plans to decorate classrooms with student murals, and the school’s food garden has grown into a wonderful success story educating the students about food, ecology, and gardening. As a volunteer driven organization, Education Without Borders has taken an active role in working with the Fezeka’s teachers, administration, and students to achieve these successes. Building new classrooms, establishing vibrant arts and dance programs, and growing the Maths and English program are but a few of the projects that Education Without Borders continues support within Fezeka School.

The challenges facing Fezeka School may appear insurmountable; however, when one looks at the work being done on the ground by Education Without Borders, the students, the teachers, and the school administration one realizes that Fezeka School is playing an integral part in bringing down the borders to education, and in so doing, helping secure livelihoods for hundreds young people.

Join Education Without Borders as a volunteer or a donor and help bring down the borders to education in South Africa.

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