We just finished spending the last of the donations and we're blown away by how generous our friends and families have been. We're especially blown away because we didn't ask anyone for anything, but an impressive amount of money was collected and very generous donations were made.
This final round of donations started with Kate's mom's collections for Refeng-Thabo. The money that she collected funded two projects. First, the ongoing quest to fill the library. Kate asked Refeng-Thabo's librarian what types of books the school needed most. She said that the library desperately needs reference books so that students will be able to do research.
We were able to order $1000 worth of reference books for the library.
The second project that this money funded was a very nice, and very big, fence for the school's garden.
The school currently has no garden because some naughty sheep broke into the school grounds and ate everything.
The teachers that were running the garden had been asking all year for money from the school to fence in an area of the school's huge grounds to protect the plants from the sheep. The school is currently completely out of money, so there was no chance of the fence being built in the next year.
Since there are almost always either sheep, cows, or goats roaming the school grounds, the teachers didn't want to plant vegetables without a way to protect the plants, so the school has been without a garden since January.
The fence will set aside a 60-meter by 30-meter rectangle, a huge area that will support a very large garden.
It is also taller than the tallest boys, an intentional move to avoid pumpkin-snatching.
We broke ground on the garden last week and students planted pumpkins, onions, and tomatoes.
The teacher who will run the garden is planning to use the food he will grow to start a feeding plan for the students. He plans to cook every day for the students, many of whom are terribly malnourished and eat about one meal per day. Usually that meal consists usually of cornmeal and sausage.
Sherry and Andy Farkas and Betty and Andy Farkas both made donations that were to be spent on things that were needed by the community. We chose to use this money to help the family that lives across the street from us in a few different ways.
First, there are two schools in Tweeling, one in the township, and a vastly better school in town. Ntombi is currently enrolled in the school in town and we are hoping that she will stay at that school, even though the family is moving into the township at the beginning of January. In order to motivate the family to keep her at the town school, we bought her the next size of the town school's uniform.
Fana is starting school next year, so we bought him his first-ever school uniform, which he was incredibly proud of.
Kate asked, "Are you excited for school, Fana?"
His uniform is a little bit big (as you can see!), but his mother, Flora, is going to hem it and take it in for him.
Andy attended Fana's graduation from pre-school, which he says was the cutest thing he has ever seen.
It turned, as things do here, into a rockin' dance party.
And, a massive photo shoot...
We also bought ten chickens for the family, 8 hens and 2 roosters, in the hopes that they will eat the eggs and breed the chickens to eat and sell. The chickens were about to be slaughtered (the same afternoon that we bought them), but now are running around in the Tweeling township, laying eggs.
We have been feeding the kids regularly and we were worried that our leaving would create a hardship on the family when the kids lose the chance to eat at our house.
Both Ntombi and Fana were terrified of the chickens. Ntombi had to be coaxed to get as close to them as she is in this picture.
On Thanksgiving, Kate's grandmother's reflections on how thankful she was led her to send a very generous donation to Tweeling. Andy suggested that the money go to the orphan feeding program in the township so that they will be able to expand their bi-weekly meal program and save some of the grant money that they receive.
There are, very sadly, many orphans in Tweeling, due mostly to AIDS, TB, and other health issues. Many of the orphans are at great risk of the health problems that took thier parents, and are even more so because most people in the township are terribly malnourished.
The orphan feeding program cooks up very good, healthy meals for the 30-50 orphans who come for lunch every Monday and Friday.
The grant that the program receives from the town government is only enough for them to provide full meals twice per week.
Andy took the volunteers grocery shopping on Tuesday and filled the program's freezer with frozen vegetables, chicken, and other meats, and also bought cups, plates, bowls, and pots that the program badly needed and would not have been able to purchase on its weekly grant. Because the freezer is currently full, the program will save the next few weeks of its grant money and will expand the feeding program to three times per week.
We, and the people of Tweeling, are incredibly grateful for the generocity that our family and friends have shown. Very unfortunately, we have not been able to determine a way to continue these donations after we have left Tweeling, since, in addition to currency exchange issues, we have not been able to set up a way to ensure that donated money will reach its intended recipient (email Kate if that euphemism doesn't translate). Also, donated goods, such as clothes and books, carry a huge import tax when they arrive in South Africa, which will be a great burden on the person who collects the donations.
So we must say Thank You to everyone who contributed and end our brief experience as philanthropists here. It has made us very proud to be able to distribute the donated goods and money and to say that they have come from our friends and family in America. Thank you very much.