VOLUNTEERING AT Sani Lodge Backpackers; Summary for 2014

Simone and Russell set up the opportunity for guests staying at Sani Lodge Backpackers to become directly involved with the programme of assisting with English language learning at Kwapitela School. The idea gained momentum and to date 27 volunteers have participated, offering their skills, enthusiasm and time with learners at the school. The programme is flexible and guests have come to be involved in a number of ways; by seeing our two volunteering packages on our website and selecting one, by arriving at the Lodge and then offering their services upon learning about the programme ,or by choosing to stay long term and teach at the school each day. As long as the school term is in process and it is a week day, volunteers are always welcome to share their talents with the young learners in a number of useful and creative ways. Being part of a ‘ volunteering package ‘means guests will be taken to the school for one day . Those guests with more time on their hands can enrol on an ad hoc basis and either use their own transport to go to the school 6 km from Sani Lodge or pay a basic fees for Lodge transport to and fro. There is also a bicycle available for guest volunteers who prefer to cycle to and from the school.
Robbie Schwieder spent 4 weeks at Sani Lodge, cycling to the school each week day to teach. “Dear Russell and Simone , Thanks again for hosting me for the last month. I had an amazing four weeks, and am hugely grateful to you both for making it happen”.

In September 2014, Russell read about STEPP’s success with school libraries and contacted Louise Taylor the Head of STEPP( St Anne’s Education in Partnership Programme) to see if she could assist with Kwapitela School’s long term desire to have a school library. Louise was very keen to assist and explained what STEPP could do. The programme supplies a school library consisting of an edutainer – a 40 foot container that has windows, burglar bars, chairs and little plastic tables, large trestle tables and shelving . STEPP believes very strongly in the school owning the library in both the development of it and in the reality of running it. Russell put Louise in touch with Mr Ndlovu ,the Headmaster of Kwapitela School to discuss the possibility and logistics of making this happen. The edutainer would need a 12 x 4 metre concrete base to be placed on, so a letter was written by Louise and sent to potential donors in the Underberg district by Russell, as below;

14 November 2014
Dear Friend of STEPP and supporter of the Kwa Pitela School library,
Kwa Pitela School is situated close to the Himeville community just off the road to Sani Pass. Recently I visited the school in preparation for the delivery of a new library to the school. Currently Kwa Pitela School has very little teaching space and too few teachers for the number of learners. Yet, the school headmaster and the owner of the Sani Lodge Backpackers aspire to improve and to develop the school and to change that situation.
English literacy in South Africa is such an important aspect of a child’s success at school. Once a learner can speak and understand English, it unlocks the ability to succeed in other subjects such as Maths and Science and allows the child the opportunity to attend university and work in business.
STEPP is the St Anne’s Education in Partnership Programme. We run multiple partnerships with schools under the vision of “making excellent education accessible to all South Africans”. One of our partnerships is to Make Libraries Happen (The books come from the ‘Books for Africa’ NGO based in the USA and were funded by Thomson Reuters.) and that is just what is happening at Kwa Pitela. On the 27 November this year, a brand new, fully equipped library will land at this school.
With very little classroom space at the school, the library will begin to alleviate this problem. Filled with books from the day it arrives, the library will open up a world previously unknown to these children and what a world of wonder for those children who are superb at languages and love to read. The road from there is long though. The teachers will need to be trained in library management, which the government library services do well and efficiently. A computer will be needed to access books on a daily basis, the school will need to incorporate daily library sessions and a nearby high school will have the privilege of starting a literacy partnership with Kwa Pitela School once a week. What an incredible opportunity for this school and you have the opportunity to be a part of it all.
The library arrives on November 27th and must be placed on a flat surface, preferably concrete. The library is placed on foundation blocks to keep it off the ground and away from soil and water. All it needs is a flat surface of 12 x 4 metres. We are appealing to you for help in this middle phase of the partnership. As part of your CSI and marketing, this opportunity would benefit your company and it is a step towards solving a real problem in the world of education. The presence of libraries increases literacy amongst children. It is important to note that this partnership is done through a sustainable partnership with STEPP and the community support of the Sani Lodge Backpackers. Please contact Russell and Simone Suchet if you would like to help
I appreciate you taking the time to consider this partnership and look forward to meeting you in the future.
Sincere thanks,
Mrs Louise Taylor
Head of STEPP
With amazing support and generosity from the local Underberg hardware Store – The Forge responded by donating 3,5 cubes Riversand 3,5 cubes stone and 30 pkts cement . The area for the library edutainer had been levelled off by members of the Kwapitela community in readiness for concreting as a base. Jonnie Ekerold generously gave up his time and machinery to mix and deliver the concrete and members of the local Kwapitela community assisted with laying the base.

The next challenge was to determine how the truck bringing the library edutainer was going to reach the school with cattle grids, gates and fences posing passage problems. Discussions with a farmer whose land abuts onto the school’s land ensued and he kindly agreed to the fence being temporarily dropped to make way for the large truck to reach the school, therein bypassing the narrow gated cattle grid that would have prevented access.

Tomorrow, the 27th November is the day the library is delivered to Kwapitela School. A momentous occasion , made possible with the help of STEPP headed by Louise Taylor, the Underberg Forge, Jonnie Ekerold and Sani Lodge Backpackers.