Born in Africa is a South African NPO that organises activities aimed at stimulating the educational development of youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds who are living in previously disadvantaged communities in the Bitou district in South Africa. By creating better opportunities for youngsters to participate in the labour market, we hope to improve the current situation of social and economic distress.
Born in Africa is now active in five primary schools (Crags Primary, Kranshoek Primary, Wittedrift High Primary, Harkerville and Wittedrift Primary), two secondary schools (Plett Secondary & Wittedrift High). All these schools are situated within the vicinities of Plettenberg Bay.
Born in Africa is a non-profit organisation, active in economically disadvantaged areas around Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Education is a fundamental right of any child. Therefore, we are committed to the long-term educational development of underprivileged children in Plettenberg Bay and surrounding areas. A solid education provides solutions for these children, equipping them to get out of hopeless situations that are often dominated by poverty, abuse and unemployment. Only when these children are given the opportunity to obtain a decent education will they have any hope of entering the labor market and be able to come one step closer to social and economic equality.
Our mission is to develop well rounded, independent and successful young adults acting as role models in their communities by providing educational and social support to school going children and young adults from deprived areas.
Our target group is children ranging from the age of six years old to young adults living in the underprivileged areas of the Bitou district. There are currently 370 children in the program.
In order to achieve our mission, we have a threefold strategy: 1) Support to a selected number of children and young adults in their academic curriculum through:
Providing bursaries and school apparatus, including school clothing and stationary
Providing educational mentorship and individual support through the organization of extra support activities such as homework classes, extra mathematics lessonsand additional reading classes
Providing career guidance / study method workshops
Organizing internships for young adults who need to acquire job skills
Supporting a selected number of Born in Africa matriculates in their tertiary education
2) Support character building with the children in the social program through:
By sustaining close relations with many other social organisations in the area and by creating a solid social network, Born in Africa empowers the communities themselves in their struggle against poverty and its consequences on health, education and the economy in general.
Board members - Rubi Chetty, Reinhard Schydlo, Toralf Nordbotten, Adje Bos and David Pickering
All staff are paid from the NPO’s bank account. The salaries are in line with the average wages of the country.
Born in Africa staff also give feedback on a weekly basis to the general coordinator in order to evaluate the current week’s activities and to enable effective planning of activities for the following week. Monthly meetings are also held between mentors and other staff to keep track of current issues and ensure that daily operations continue in a professional, integrated manner.
Isabelle De Smul-Brink (CEO/General co-ordinator)
Belinda Coram (Academic and mentor co-ordinator)
Born in Africa has four mentors (Sarija Bewee, Belinda Coram, Catherine Schoeman and Marita Harker) who are each responsible for specific children at different schools
Reading assistant staff
We currently have four reading assistant teachers, Ronelle de Waal, Marinda Arendse, Gwyneth Manuel and Judy Mintoor who assist 370 learners
Programs and projects
Born in Africa’s academic programme is aimed at providing support toward the academic careers of schoolchildren and young adults. The ultimate goal is that they will reach their highest individual potential and have a realistic view on their opportunities in the labour market.
Department of Education’s statistics show that the general level of literacy in most primary schools is insufficient. Schools in disadvantaged areas in particular score below the minimum required levels. Many factors contribute to these results, including a lack of stimulation in the children’s homes, parents who have dropped out of school themselves, a lack of educational material, poor equipment in school libraries and overcrowded classrooms.
Many schools have limited resources and thus an inability to hire extra staff and address these problems sufficiently. This leads to extra stress and a feeling of hopelessness among teachers, which in its turn impacts heavily on children’s results and sense of well being at school. Children who do not finish matric, their final year of high school, often do not have the means and resources to apply or pay for a tertiary education which fits their potential or needs. South Africa’s workforce therefore has not attained the necessary skills needed to sustain development.
Due to the strong focus on the attainment of specific academic curricula at schools, children with a backlog face great difficulties in keeping up with the pace of teaching in class. The overcrowded classes also make it very challenging for teachers to differentiate between the learners’ levels, and parents are often not able to help their children with extra support at home.
Children often have an unrealistic view on the requirements of practicing a certain profession or other possibilities that lie ahead after they finish matric and this is magnified when they drop out before completing grade 12. A lot of potential goes to waste because there is not enough attention on career guidance.
Besides the challenges mentioned above, a big problem that remains for most children when it comes to successfully reaching their full potential, is the lack of finances to pay for FET (further education and training). Many families can’t afford the fees and/or the costs linked with studying far away from home. In the Bitou area there aren’t many colleges or training programs where children would be able to follow courses that meet their needs. The travelling distance of universities or colleges from a student’s home could be anything from 100 to 500 kilometres, thus yet another obstacle that has to be overcome.
What the programme entails Besides the general support of selected children during their school career (e.g. provision of uniforms and individual follow up) we have developed several specific activities to answer the challenges above.
Homework classes: the purpose of the homework classes is to help learners who are behind in class or who could benefit from extra exercises. We focus on study methods, learn to do project work and tutor those who need it. It is also a perfect way to work with children to develop life skills such as confidence, assertiveness and a positive self-image. Society demands people who believe in lifelong learning, which is why we aim to teach learners to learn and have a positive attitude towards learning. We select learners in the program from grade 4 to grade 6 for homework classes in the schools where we work.
Tertiary education and career guidance: children are encouraged to enrol into tertiary education institutions once they have finished secondary or high school. Extensive career guidance is done at least two years before the student completes high school to identify the best career choice suited for the learner. This is based on his or her interests as well as academic capabilities. What is most important is the student’s attitude towards studying but various other aspects are also taken into consideration before enrolling students into tertiary institutes. Learners are made fully aware of the requirements for university application and are guided toward other possibilities when they do not meet these requirements.
Once a learner has been accepted into university or college, Born in Africa takes responsibility for supporting him/her financially (including school fees, accommodation and daily living). Born in Africa organises transport to the institution and settles them in. We also provide the necessary stationary and textbooks for their field of study. Telephone sessions take place on a weekly basis between the student and mentor to ensure the overall well being of the student and that his/her studies are a positive experience. After successfully completing his or her studies, the student is released from the Born in Africa programme with an individualised exit strategy.
Born in Africa’s social programme aims at developing life skills among children in the Born in Africa programme so that they can become confident and well rounded young people who are able to successfully take their future into their own hands.
The Bitou area, situated along the Garden route in the Western Cape, is perceived to be fabulously wealthy but in reality there is a huge disparity between rich and poor.
Tens of thousands of people struggle in abject poverty, most families live in townships in small two or three roomed homes. These are often overcrowded with up to 10 people sharing a small room. Unemployment levels exceeding 30% combined with an historic abuse of alcohol impact social conditions in the townships. The children are exposed to alcohol at a very young age and are therefore at high risk of dropping out of school and being involved in crime. Born in Africa works mainly in Afrikaans speaking coloured communities who have been marginalised over time, battling to find their identity.
The social assistance to Born in Africa children is quintessential to support their academic curriculum. Without it, they would struggle even more to be motivated to attend school, to do homework, write exams and envision a future career for which good school results are mandatory. In the area where Born in Africa is operating, there is an enormous deficit in social workers. Therefore, Born in Africa needs to train and debrief their staff on a regular basis in order to be able to respond to the huge social problems the children face. Organisations who deal with family problems are overburdened and private counselling is not affordable. The responsibility to guide these children is therefore partly shifted towards our organisation.
What the programme entails
Born in Africa has in its employment four mentors who each work with between 50 and 100 children. The children attend weekly mentoring sessions in groups of 8-15 children, where they are encouraged to explore and resolve problems in their own lives and communities. Individual sessions are held with children who are experiencing social or emotional pressure. “I believe in me” is the most important message that Born in Africa wants to bring to children who grow up in a social environment that lacks the support systems needed for them to outgrow poverty.
The mentors also communicate with the schools and teachers to get academic and behavioural feedback on a monthly basis. Three times a year, the mentors visit the home of each of the children in the programme to get a clearer picture of their ever-changing living conditions.
The mentors also fill in twice a year a mid-year end end year report in about the child.
The parents are also invited to parent meetings twice a year where they get an overview of what their children do in the Born in Africa programme.
Furthermore, Born in Africa builds strong networking ties for referrals to other social service providers and legal systems.
Life Skills Progam
Born in Africa’s life skills program intends to expose Born in Africa children to the broader environment outside of their normal, daily routine. The goal is to transfer basic or necessary skills to children in order for them to become well-rounded, independent young adults.
Children in the Born in Africa program come from poor and disadvantaged communities, which leave them with little possibility to broaden their views and truly experience their environment. Even while living in an area that thousands of tourists visit all year round, it is common for them never to have seen most of the attractions that are on visitors’ must see list.
Because of the harsh living conditions there is little room for children to truly be children. They are expected to help out with household activities, which are usually designated to adults, and to help take care of their younger siblings. The limited afterschool activities or sport clubs that exist in the area are not easily accessible for these children because of the distance and/or the money that is needed for them to be able to participate.
It is of vital importance that children get to know the world outside of their own daily life in order to have a realistic image of what lies ahead in their future. Knowing what options they might have and what they need to do to reach their full potential plays a vital part in their development into confident young adults. If children are excluded from developing their creative skills or discover their hidden talents they fall prey to apathy and become prone to abuse.
There is an awareness of the importance of developing “soft skills” in schools but unfortunately the schools lack funding to transfer these skills to children, for example by taking them on educational trips.
What the programme entails
A specially assigned educational coordinator organises camps, various outings and other activities such as swimming lessons together with Born in Africa volunteers. They act as role models and show the children how to be creative with little means.
Camps: every year 7 camps are organised, each for a specific age group and with a defined focus. For the youngest children the camps are filled with fun and games to allow them to spend a couple of days playing freely while teaching them about teamwork and respect.
The older children are also provided with a fun camp, and there is more focus on teambuilding, life skills, creative problem solving and prevention.
The activities of the eldest groups focus heavily on the implementation of life skills in their daily lives. There is also room for career guidance, often combined with visits from professionals to give testimonies about their jobs.
Outings: during the holidays we organise outings to nature reserves, the beach and game parks for the children who have participated in our homework classes and who have attended the individual and group sessions regularly.
Swimming lessons: it is not only for safety reasons, but also to widen possible job opportunities in this water rich area, that swimming lessons are organised. Regular tests are performed to measure the progress of each child and address any additional needs that the child may have.
Art and crafts: children participate in different after school activities such as woodwork, painting and needlework a few times a week. Rather than only teaching them creative techniques, we also place the focus on a practical side and make things that they can use at home.
Cooperation and networking In order to sustain good relationships with other organisations and to create synergies, Born in Africa is actively networking in the Bitou district and beyond. Through this networking, needs are established and it is assured that all organisations work together in addressing these needs.
Some of the main role players in the area that Born in Africa is networking with are the Department of Social Services and Department of Education, the Bitou Municipality, Child and Family Welfare (Plettenberg Bay), the Bitou 10 Foundation, Masizame Shelter and Youth centre, Invicta Shelter and Home Based Care OrganiSouth Africation, South Cape College (Bitou campus), Die Sterreweg Day-Care Centre and Willing Workers in South Africa.
Born in Africa is also particularly involved with FAMSA, the Family and Marriage Association of South Africa. They provide specialised counselling and we are able to refer Born in Africa students to them in need of this service. Born in Africa mentors also go to FAMSA for debriefing and often attend enriching training workshops with a wide variety of themes.
The majority of the necessary funding is directly transferred from Born in Africa in Belgium.
Born in Africa is constantly looking at ways to ensure extra investment opportunities to sustain the qualitative growth of the project and its activities.
A clear overview of the profit and loss statement of Born in Africa South Africa can be found in annex 5. It is clear from these documents that all running costs are paid directly by Born in Africa South Africa from its own bank account. This includes personnel and education costs, consumer goods, logistics, SOUTH AFRIC SARS & UIF (South Africa Tax revenue Service and Unemployment Insurance fund).
We have a dedicated team in Belgium who are responsible for the majority of our fundraising activities. Our team members in Belgium all serve as board members and ensure that the organisation runs smoothly. Each board member is passionate about Born in Africa and is actively involved on a daily basis. The chairman, Georges De Smul, carries the responsibility of liaison between all the board members and volunteers. He is consistently busy with fundraising for Born in Africa. He also sources new godparents. Our vice chairman Remi De Backer is also responsible for marketing with regards to Born in Africa. Then we have Jaak Leenknegt who sources corporate funding and Christine Lernout who is responsible for the accounting division. We also have a team in place responsible for additional marketing and the sourcing of volunteers.
One way to support Born in Africa is by sponsoring a child and the children know this as gaining a “godparent”. Many godparents are also recruited when they visit the area on holiday.
€300 per year ensures that the child receives a school uniform, will be monitored by a mentor on a monthly basis and get the opportunity to take part in outings, camps and the other educational activities which the Born in Africa program has to offer. Regular correspondence between our godparents and children is facilitated to ensure a positive bond between godparents and children.
Individuals are also encouraged to make independent donations and the funds are then allocated to a specific Born in Africa project or program.
Companies are also able to sponsor the college and university students from whom they will receive regular updates. Often schools, organizations or groups of sympathetic folk enjoy raising funds by means of birthday gifts, hosting dinner parties, arranging outdoors activities and so forth. These funds are either allocated to the program close to their hearts or Born in Africa is given the responsibility to decide how the funds are allocated.
FUTURE PLANS Long-Term Goal Statement
We aim to continue supporting our Born in Africa children through education and personal development sessions. By doing this successfully the children in our program will learn not to be the victim, but will rise above their circumstance and improve their education which means they are able to gain a degree or skill. By extensive networking, marketing and creating awareness, we are confident that our goal will be met.
Poor social conditions still exist in South Africa due to its earlier “Apartheid” regime. 20 years later we still have many townships where poverty is rife. Social conditions are shocking. Our purpose is to personally assist the children in the Born in Africa program. This way we are able to teach them valuable life skills and lessons to break the cycle of poverty, abuse and the “handout system” which they have subsequently adopted. If we can successfully guide them through their primary and secondary education, then their chances at succeeding at tertiary level is so much greater. Once they have obtained their college diploma or university degree, they can enter the job market and contribute to our nation. They become role models in their communities and give back in so many ways, also assisting in breaking the cycle of poverty, abuse and the “handout” system.