Finding your strengths to go from good to great

Have you ever wondered why it is that we focus so much of our time and energy on improving our weaknesses instead of developing our strengths? The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and USA Today bestselling book Strengthsfinder 2.0, based on Gallup’s research, aims to help you identify your strengths and change the way you see and develop yourself forever!

Have you always wanted to be the “hero” in difficult situations, to be the one parachuting into enemies’ firing lines in order to save the day? Or have you wondered why you always seem to find the “problem” in every plan presented? Perhaps you feel compelled to “action” every idea colleagues have or to point out why it just won’t work. You might just have the strengths of WOO, Ideation, Restorative, or being an Activator. According to Strengthsfinder 2.0, your greatest strengths may lie in these “automatic” responses.

Eight staff members from OLIVE LEAF Foundation in Stellenbosch participated in the online Strengthsfinder process involving an online test as well as individual and group coaching sessions. The team rediscovered themselves and each other in this journey, by learning about each person’s strengths and correlating behavior.

In conjunction with the ideology of Strengthsfinder, the book Good to Great written by Jim Collins was used to help each staff member define their personal hedgehog concept. To explain the hedgehog concept, herewith an excerpt from Good to Great: “Picture two animals: a fox and a hedgehog. Which are you? An ancient Greek parable distinguishes between foxes, which know many small things, and hedgehogs, which know one big thing. All good-to-great leaders, it turns out, are hedgehogs. They know how to simplify a complex world into a single, organizing idea—the kind of basic principle that unifies, organizes, and guides all decisions. That’s not to say hedgehogs are simplistic. Like great thinkers, who take complexities and boil them down into simple, yet profound ideas, leaders of good-to-great companies develop a Hedgehog Concept that is simple but that reflects penetrating insight and deep understanding”.

The whole Stellenbosch team agreed that the sessions were life changing and mind-altering whether they learned these things about themselves and others for the first time or it just confirmed that they are indeed on the right bus and in the perfect seat!

Amandla! Mandela

Tonight I feel like an African princess who is going to a wedding celebration, because I am on my way to experience the African male voice choir performing in Amsterdam, in the first musical about Madiba’s life: Amandla! Mandela.

The previous time I saw the group, was three months earlier, when we wished them bon voyage on the airport, on their way to the Netherlands for an eight month stint of rehearsals and performances. They had realized, then, already that it would be very different from the trips to the Eastern Cape which they are veterans of. This time they will be a group of nine men and one woman, sharing two flats in Amsterdam till March 2010, and will be performing every second evening across the Netherlands.

When we arrive at the Koninklijk Theater Carré, the red carpet is waiting with TV cameras and the European glitterati are everywhere. My heart bounces with joy when I eventually spot a bright orange and green head Ugandan head-scarf.

The beauty and size of the Carré is overwhelming and we take our seats in anticipation to see the group. The piece opens with scenes from Mandela’s youth in the Transkei. Big names from South African history are eternalised on stage: Bizos, Tambo, Sisulu and Winnie. And there is the choir now! From shacks in Indlovini behind Khayelitsha this group of musicians (now also actors) has travelled to one of the biggest stages in Europe. Astonished we watch Mvakalisi Madotyeni, a South African actor with the body and smile of a young Henry Cele, sing and speak in Dutch:

"Ubuntu! Ubuntu! Gelijk­heid; vrijheid; respect! Hoe gaat je om met ieder die je kent?"

Inge Bos, the producer of Amandla! Mandela, mentioned that we will be surprised about how the group has progressed (after the groundwork by Nicholas Ellenbogen and the OLIVE LEAF Foundation in 2007) through months of hard work to become confident actors and stage personalities. Khayelitsha United Mambazo met the challenge with great responsibility, seriousness and vigour. On top of getting used to new songs, dance moves and acting, they also had to incorporate the Dutch language cues!

When the group got the chance to show off their traditional Isicathamiya moves, I felt how the magical power of Africa filled the room. The European audience is awed by the robust and ancient sounds of Africa. I wished I could ululate to show the group how moved I was.

It has to be a frightening task for any artist to tell the life-story of Nelson Mandela in a three hour musical. The Dutch writer and director Koen van Dijk managed to achieve this with sensitivity and a balanced thematic overview. He presents the most important events of our recent political history (the Rivonia trial, the Sharpeville massacre and the riots of 1976) with respect and empathy.

The love story of Mandela and Winnie Madikizela, and his longing for his wife and children, while incarcerated on Robben-island emphasises his humanity. Mandela’s strategic diplomacy with PW and then later FW, in the negotiation process before his release, is played in a delightful tragic-comical nature (satirically undermining the ‘authorities’).

The piece culminates exuberantly in a joyful climax of music and dance with Mandela’s eventual release from the Victor Verster prison. The image of Madiba and Winnie who are able to walk, relaxed and content, down the road to speak to the people of their country is powerful and moving.

The basic emotional and narrative impact of the fascinating life journey of this world icon is served exceptionally well by the well written text, convincing acting and the group of authentic South African musicians and dancers.

This is an energetic, heart-warming, inspiring and highly entertaining product, which can be adapted for a South African audience. For now the South Africans are still working in Amsterdam till March 2010.

When they return, each one will be able, with the income from the show, to move from their current informal settlement to a suburban neighbourhood.

Written by Renée Belcher van den Berg

Grant and Health Jamboree

The OLIVE LEAF Foundation (OLF) Cape Town OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) team co-ordinated a Grant and Health Jamboree on the 30th and 31st of July 2009 at the Thusong Community Hall in Khayelitsha. This event that brings together all Government Departments that are involved in grant and health access – creating a “one-stop-shop” for grant and health services. Typically, a caregiver wishing to apply for a child grant will have to negotiate his/her way through numerous Government Departments, a process that can take months and involve repeated visits to several different Government offices. Travel costs, illiteracy, illness, ignorance and fear prevent the most vulnerable households from negotiating this system.

At this year’s Jamboree the services offered included grant applications via the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and applications for birth certificates and ID Books through the Department of Home Affairs. To support these services, the South African Police were on site to verify information and provide affidavits, the Department of Social Development provided information on foster care process and provided the services of social workers to assist with special cases. Ward Councillors and Local Government and Housing were also available to provide information to community members. Local banks offered financial education and community members could open up bank accounts on site within which their grants could be deposited.

The health services included voluntary counselling and testing for HIV and pregnancy testing offered by OLF. Cape Town City Health provided TB screening, family planning, child immunizations, and vitamin boosters. SpecSavers also offered free eye screening for all adults and children and provided free lenses and frames to children between 8 and 12 years. HIV education on the day was provided by the OLF Prevention Program. Drug education was facilitated by SANCA and information on the abuse of women and children by Rape Crisis and the Mosaic Centre. 12 000 condoms were distributed at the event.

Volunteers on both days came from the Volunteer Centre and by Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) and of course, the whole Cape Town OLF office arrived ready to be put to work. With plenty of on-site support, every effort was made to assist each person who came through the doors. This proved to be quite a task as community members began queuing outside the venue from 4am, despite the rain! One of the main challenges and successes of the day was the huge turn out - an indication of good advertising prior to the event. However, to avoid disappointing people, on the second day, once the venue was filled to capacity, (at 7.30am) the doors were shut to new arrivals. The incredible turn-out highlights the necessity and importance of such events within Khayelitsha.

Other challenges faced included a power outage and a service delivery strike which coincided with Jamboree dates! Despite these set-backs thousands of members of the Khayelitsha community were assisted. Within these numbers, 995 children received services. Of particular mention is that 365 children had free eye tests by SpecSavers, out of which 33 will be receiving new glasses. SASSA also processed 557 Child Support Grants, 30 Foster Care Grants and 7 Care Dependency Grants. Thus for the R25 000 spent by the OLIVE LEAF Foundation in coordinating the jamboree, R1, 933 800.00 per annum in state grants were leveraged for children within poor households. This does not include the hundreds of Old Age Grants, Disability Grants and Grants-In-Aid that were also processed over the two days.

On the eve of Friday the 31st July we could therefore close the Thusong Community Hall’s doors, tired, but proud of the synergy with which the different OLF programmes worked, of the way in which multiple stakeholders pulled together and of the large numbers of the Khayelitsha community assisted toward better financial, physical and social well-being.

By Jessica Geffroy | Senior OVC Co-ordinator

Khayelitsha, Cape Town

Cleaning Campaign at Bizza’s Tavern

It was a great day on the 17th of July 2009 when participants from Biza’s Tavern at Site B embarked on a clean-up campaign of the entire area. The campaign itself was championed by one of the volunteers from the Abalingani Gender Programme. A large number of community members in Khayelitsha from M section in Site B joined the enthusiastic participants and also provided plastic bags and brooms.

After a thirty minutes briefing on commitment to action, the cleaning up began. A strike in the area did not deter the group, even though those who were striking were littering the streets as a way of protesting against low quality housing. Amazingly the angry protestors abandoned their strike and joined the cleaners instead. Over 150 people took part on the day.

Activities included sweeping the streets, removing weeds and cleaning the drainage system whilst participant were singing and more onlookers supported the work by supplying refreshments.

Conversations included the value and importance of shebeen workshops that the OLIVE LEAF Foundation facilitates and hopes were expressed that further campaigns and initiatives would result from the workshops.

At the end of the day there was an agreement to embark on a cleaning campaign every second week as the initiative was a tremendous success and several other organizations indicated that they would like to join OLF for the next event.

The campaign itself has been integrated into the AGP programme with its own reporting system. A member of the community and participant in AGP workshops ,Mlulami Ncele, has volunteered to manage the Site B campaign around shebeen workshops and the clean-up campaign.

By Eric Bafo – AGP Co-ordinator

Dinner on the table

Twenty orphaned and vulnerable children in Mthatha were the first recipients of produce from a food garden started within the Chanti community.

Spefundevu Junior Secondary School is situated within the Chanti rural community in Mthatha. There is a high prevalence of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and poverty is a daily struggle within this community.

The OLIVE LEAF Foundation (OLF) realized through their interaction with children at Kidz Clubs and Support Groups that several children within this community were attending school on empty stomachs and often the entire day would pass without having access to any type of food.

In April 2008 the partnership was established with Spefundevu JSS School. Above mentioned Kidz Club and Support Group were formed within the school with the assistance of school staff.

In December 2008 the school donated a piece of land to the OLIVE LEAF Foundation OVC team and they got started immediately preparing the land for potatoes and spinach. The potato seeds were supplied by OLF office in Mthatha and the spinach seeds from the Spefundevu JSS School Governing Body.

The garden is monitored closely since its creation and the results were extremely pleasing, when in March of this year the vegetables that had been planted were ready for harvest. Nine males and eleven females were provided with food from this although there are several children within the community that are in need of nutritional support, these children were identified as most needy. There are plans to plant a greater variety of vegetables to increase the number of children that will benefit from the food garden.

The answer lies within

Despite 20 years of collective efforts by government, civil society, the private sector and the international donor community, the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to progress rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa is considered to have the worst pandemic in the world with the highest number of PLWAs (People living with HIV/AIDS) and HIV infection rates estimated at over 20% in the sexually active age groups (UNAIDS estimates). HIV/AIDS strategies to date have focused predominately on commodity-driven interventionist approaches that have sought to address the immediate needs and short-term challenges of the HIV pandemic but have often failed to acknowledge and strengthen existing community capacity to respond. As documented by UNAIDS and experiences around the world social mobilization at community level is a key ingredient in fostering behavioural change and promoting systems of care and support in the fight against HIV/AIDS and is foundational to an expanded response. In short, the approach needs to be a community-driven, facilitated one.

There is now evidence that communities can develop and implement effective action plans with measurable indicators. Despite the increasing recognition that effective responses need to be community driven and owned, methodologies used to this end often fail to generate measurable results as well as collective synergy among community stakeholders. The OLIVE LEAF Foundation (OLF) has embraced a methodology to address the limitations of such approaches through the principle of CCEP, Community Capacity Enhancement Programme.

Community conversations were adopted by UNDP as a result of their success in creating transformation at both community and organisational level.

The CCEP framework, through a participatory approach, facilitates the process of community capacity-building by helping communities identify, assess and respond to their own levels of awareness of - and vulnerability to - HIV/AIDS. The CCEP framework provides communities with a roadmap towards a mutually accepted level of competence that stimulates self-motivation, ownership and transfer of capacity to other individuals, institutions and communities. The CCEP framework draws extensively on OLF’s work with Community Mobilization and Capacity Building processes that has been used successfully in community programmes.

The most dynamic part of this journey is that moment when a community looks up and out and sees its ability, desire and need to amplify that which it has experienced, understood and embraced. Competency reflects that special, defining, watershed moment when one community embraces another and a new journey begins. Few if any doubt that this pandemic demands that you take the fight to it, a fatalistic, come what may approach must be snuffed at its inception.

The jewel in the crown of intervention is the youth. Therein lays a key to CCEP, schools! Vibrant, dynamic communities, influential, centre of learning formal and informal with the power to mould and shape behaviour. Practioners of CCEP methodologies should and must embrace these entities as fully functional communities which through their own HIV competency become powerful agents of change internally and externally.

Written by John Muir - OLF Strategic Development Officer

From alone in hospital to happy home

A baby girl born in Durban, who was abandoned by her teenage mother in hospital, has finally found a home. The six months old baby was left at Clairwood Hospital; the child was suffering from Kwashiorkor and was in the care of the hospital staff.

The child’s aunt (on biological mother’s side), Mrs Mkhize knew that the child had been abandoned by her sister and wanted to raise Thembie* her as her own. Mrs Mkhize did not know what procedures to follow to enable her to bring Thembie home, so she sought assistance from an OLIVE LEAF Foundation (OLF) Fieldworker that she knew was involved in an orphaned and vulnerable children programme (OVC) in the community.

The OLF Fieldworker assisted Mrs Mkhize by referring her to one of it’s partners, the Durban Children’s Society, where a Social Worker assisted Mrs Mkhize.

After completing the procedures needed, Mrs Mkhize was able to take the baby to her new home in Cato Manor!

The OLF Fieldworker followed up with home visits to Mrs Mkhize helping her apply for the Thembie's birth certificate and gain access to an immunisation card. After several further follow-ups with both Mrs Mkhize and the Department of Home Affairs by our OVC fieldworker, Mrs Mkhize was awarded a Child Support Grant for the baby girl. This Grant is much needed as the Thembie lives in a house with nine other siblings. Since the last visit, OLF is happy to report that Thembie is doing very well and is a happy, healthy child.

*not her real name.

CSI: SAB donates library in Diepsloot

Members from the Capital Optimisation Team at SAB (South African Breweries) kindly donated their time, materials and stamina to revamp one of OLIVE LEAF Foundation’s (OLF) containers at Diepsloot into a children’s mini library.

As part of SAB’s CSI drive, all teams in the business adopt a CSI beneficiary and spend at least a day a year (fully paid time by SAB) doing work with the beneficiary. The Capital Optimisation Team visited various NGOs within Diepsloot to ascertain how SAB could assist worthy causes. OLF Diepsloot was one of these sites. They were so impressed with OLFs work with orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) that they selected that as their department’s CSI beneficiary. In late 2007 they spent a day to repaint and repair the children’s jungle gyms on site, restore taps to working order, and replace broken windows.

In July 2008 the Capital Optimisation Team again expressed their intentions to assist the Diepsloot site in November of the same year. According to Rajeev Batohi from SAB, the reason that they chose to return to Diepsloot was because ‘we wanted to continue our association with Diepsloot and so we asked Margaret Xaba where we could help’. Margaret (OLF Diepsloot Area Manager) identified a few options and the library project resonated strongly with the team, as it would be a wonderful addition to the Diepsloot site, improving literacy among the children.

Before the library could even get off the ground, the team went on a book donation drive. They requested SAB staff to donate children’s books, and collected approximately 250 books before the CSI day on 24 Nov 2008. They also partnered with second hand bookstores and purchased a further 150 books, applicable to all children’s age groups. In addition to the books, the team laid new carpet tiles and brought book shelves, tables and chairs. Much needed ventilation to the container was provided. According to Rajeev, ventilation is vital as 'the kids have to be able to sit there comfortably and read'.

When asked how this initiative makes the team feel, Deepa Harilal from SAB responded; 'this appeals to me as we know the problems [surrounding] literacy and kids can get exposure whilst here and be more stimulated'.

Devan Padayachy's response to the same question was; 'this is just the start. SAB would like to see more done next year including providing computers and security fencing'. The team will continue with their book collection and more books have already been secured and will be sent to the library.

The OLIVE LEAF Foundation would like to thank Rajeev Batohi, Deepa Harilal, Devin Padayachy, Hyram Serretta and Gerrit Thiart from SAB for offering there time, resources and effort to building a wonderful library.

Youth support each other in Durban

As part of the Family Wellness and Development programme, food security is a high priority. Several youths from OLIVE LEAF Foundation Kidz Clubs around South Africa have expressed an interest to start a sustainable food garden in their communities. On the 20 November 2009 Qhilika high school in Durban harvested spinach, turnips and lettuce for the first time from their own food garden!

The first produce was given to four Orphaned and Vulnerable Children households from the Qhilika Kidz Club. This has been a rewarding experience for the teachers and children who initiated the garden.

One of the results of this enterprise is that the youths feel empowered to do more in their community as they recognise their potential to make positive impact on the lives of others. The highlight of this experience is that the children benefited from the school initiative. The teachers expressed gratitude to OLIVE LEAF FOUNDATION for their support and was proud of the fact that when they started there was only had one garden and there are now four.

OLIVE LEAF Foundation is committed to supporting the youth in initiatives that will enable sustainable community development.

Making our strategy count

Our CEO offers some thoughts on OLIVE LEAF Foundation

Every employee and stakeholder within our organisation understands that our core purpose is to serve the needy, the orphans and widows. From our inception in 1989, this purpose has defined the heart of our organisation. At every opportunity and every encounter with staff members, our purpose is re-iterated and emphasized, lest there ever be any form of doubt. The question our executives often ask ourselves is how do we measure up to our purpose; are our activities indeed focussed on achieving our purpose or do we merely pay lip service?

The ship has set sail!

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure"

I felt a shiver running down my spine as one of our directors shared these words with the staff gathered together in the room. We were gathered to speak about our organization, and the place of each person in the organization. I felt this way because the words were used by Nelson Mandela in his inauguration speech. Ten minutes before Fikile had spoken them I had read a letter that Madiba had written to his daughter – in his handwriting – displayed outside the door of our venue. We were in the Red Location museum and the event was called ‘Join the Journey’.

When we were planning the content for the journey round I was reminded of the play called “The Tempest” written by Shakespeare. The story is about a ship’s crew who are lost at sea in an incredible storm. They wash out in different places and do not know their shipmates have survived. The different sailors are challenged by a monster called Caliban and his owner -a resident of the island – the wizard Prospero. Prospero plays games with the sailors, but ultimately helps them to find each other. The image of the storm, and the monster on the island reminded me of our organization, venturing into stormy waters. For me I felt more like I was on a ship than a taxi. A ship going into uncharted waters with the forces of nature – earth, water, air and fire all forming part of the storm.

In Durban we were in a very watery place. We conducted our sessions in the Blue Waters hotel, on the first floor. Right below our room, on the ground floor, was the indoor swimming pool of the hotel. So we were about ten meters above a swimming pool while we were discussing the future of the OLIVE LEAF Foundation. What made it very scary was the fact that the floor wobbled every ten minutes. Yes. The first floor of a twenty storey building, above a swimming pool, WOBBLED. The staff in Durban, at the time, also did not have a designated captain. Regardless of this the crew were strong swimmers. The workshop flowed very well, and the Isicathamiya performance was one of the best! The storm continued to blow its fierce winds of change and onward we sailed.

The wind blew especially hard at the childhood home of Madiba - the village of Qunu. The venue we worked in is situated on a high hill which looks over the valleys and hills of the Eastern Cape. The wind was so strong that a few people were pulled off their feet when they opened or closed the door to the room. The room was one of the best we had used on the journey – it was warm and created a great atmosphere for the serious process in which we were engaged. As we were talking about our future, and our place in this organization, the wind howled outside, and the windows rattled.

One of the beautiful moments in the journey for me occurred when the staff members were busy with their mirrors. They received much less variety of beads and material to work with than other sites. When I saw this I thought that these mirrors would not look as rich and colourful as the others we had seen. I was blown over by the skill in which the group managed to utilize their materials. It really taught me a lesson in resource management - often when the resource is particularly scarce does the real creativity arrive. The real swimmers show they can swim only when the storm begins.

In Cape Town the ship passed through a very stormy patch of ocean. When I think back on the two days I remember two days of thunder and lightning. It was sunny outside – but the room, and the people participating, created a clamouring and loud series of thunderclaps. As a facilitator I was running around the room the whole time, trying to hear everyone, and contain the space, but it was impossible. The facts that it was a massive group of people gathered together, and that other workshops also spilled noise into our space led to a very loud two days. It was stunning to see that through the thunder and noise there were dark clouds brooding in the group’s hearts.

Occasionally they erupted into lightning flashes of voices speaking out. Voices competing for acknowledgement, and then submerging into the dark storm again. These were the bright moments for me in Cape Town. The voices were calling for change, and pointing the direction to a safer haven.

In Soweto we were firmly engaged with the earth. We utilized a cold room in a massive mountain of a building in Soweto called the Grace Bible church. These were the coldest days on the journey, and while it rained and howled outside, we were sitting in this concrete cave, dealing with very heavy matters.

All three of us were sick: Mama Mercy, Marisca and I. We had four consecutive days in this venue, with electricity only available every now and again. The issues expressed became more and more difficult. And in this place Marisca asked those gathered in the room a very simple question: “Why are you here?”

How appropriate that we were in the Grace Bible church. What followed was nothing less than grace. The stories and feelings shared flowed like a powerful stream of life, pouring out filled with values and passion and deep conviction. In these few minutes the first quadrant of the Integral Framework was fuller than I had ever experienced. A young woman expressed the feeling in the room perfectly when she said: "I can just feel something larger in the room right now – I can even say it is the presence of God." She was not the only one at that time with tears in her eyes.

That was the moment the olive branch was delivered, I believe.

We sailed on and in Polokwane the ship was in a steady harbour for a very focused two days. We sat around a fire and had the luxury of ample time at our disposal. All nine attendants brought their focus and thoughts to the session. As facilitators we were tired and the warmth of the fire was a suitable place to end the stormy sailing trip around the shores of our sites.

As I write this I am getting another shiver down my spine. I remember the room in which Fikile spoke those powerful words of Madiba. The room we used in the Red Location museum. It was shaped like a boat turned upside down. I did not realise the significance of the metaphor at the time.

Our boat has indeed been tumbled around, and we have gone through a powerful storm. We have lost loved ones and friends, but onward we sail with the grace of the dove’s delivery of the olive branch. The question we will face when we step onto dry land again is whether we can use those elements we gathered on the way: our earth, our water, our wind, fire and thunder, and with our Creator’s help can build a new, sustainable world.

Written by Wessel van den Berg

683 Children receive dental care

On the 7th and 8th of July 2009 the Durban Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) team hosted their first Grant and Health Jamboree at the Cato Crest Community hall. This event was hosted in partnership with OXFAM Australia, the Ethekweni Municipality ( Area Based Management – Cato Manor , Ethekweni HIV and Aids Programm)e, Newstart (VCT), Kwazulu Natal Department of Education, Home Affairs , Health , and Social Development, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Cato Manor Clinic , SANCA, Fellowship of Baptist churches in SA as well as other governmental , non governmental and business entities. A grant and health jamboree is an event that brings together health and grant services to the community creating easy access to a variety of core services which are much needed within the Cato Crest Community.

Dr Malcolm Roberts from the Wentworth foundation donated his skills and time to the jamboree event and managed to conduct 683 basic dental checkups for OVC over the two day period. Children that required further dental assistance were referred either to the Wentworth Foundation or local clinics. All of the children also received either a toothbrush or toothpaste that was donated by Colgate for the jamboree event. The Cato Manor clinic provided 123 OVC with Vitamin A drops and 147 OVC received de-worming pills. A further 371 OVC received a basic health check-up from OLF’s Care and Support team.

Representatives from the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug dependence (SANCA) provided 263 children with information on drug and alcohol awareness and a further 285 OVC received HIV education and 283 received general education from the Ethekweni HIV and Aids Programme and Hope2Educate. All grade R children were also provided with spiritual support through a puppet show that was hosted by the Fellowship of Baptist churches in SA. The Department of Home Affairs staff assisted 20 caregivers with their applications for birth registrations and a further 19 identification documents were processed over the two day period. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) assisted 38 caregivers to access Child support grants, 2 caregivers were assisted with their application for child dependency grants and a further 8 Foster care grants were processed. All children that attended this event were also provided with a nutritional snack.

The Jamboree event was a huge success. Government, business and non governmental partnerships are critical for success if we are to make a significant impact in disenfranchised communities. The event aims to promote sustainable community development as OLIVE LEAF Foundation and its partners continue to work in the Cato Crest Community and surrounding areas.

One Man Can take responsibility

Dumisani Rebombo and his friend raped a young girl in their village in South Africa when they were teenagers.

Years later, he returned to the same village to find the woman he attacked and begged for her forgiveness.

Please follow this link to a BBC article regarding Dumisani Rebombo.

The Journey kicks off in Soweto

The OLIVE LEAF Foundation is starting a process of internal change and Join The Journey is our vehicle to drive this.

Join The Journey is about self-discovery, learning about our past, our old habits and ourselves. It is about acknowledging these and exploring a new self as individuals and as an organisation.

Join The Journey’s goal is to help the OLIVE LEAF Foundation grow by instilling new habits and fresh ideas, empowering it to truly turn hope into reality. It will help translate the principles of Good to Great from concepts into tangible behavior as well as assisting us to take our values and allow them to govern our behavior. The Good to Great principles are:

  • Disciplined People.
  • Disciplined Thoughts.
  • Disciplined Actions.

The first session was conducted in our oldest site, Soweto were 90 staff members joined the journey. They were asked to consider and paint what the OLIVE LEAF Foundation could look like if we all practiced disciplined thought towards ourselves, others and our work.

Our call is for each and every one of you to join in on this remarkable journey. We will be visiting exciting new destinations, traveling through undiscovered territory, using fresh routes and meeting new people. So pack your bags and bring your cameras. Remember, there is always space for one more!

Recovered and healthy again

During August 2005 the OLIVE LEAF Foundation (OLF) rolled-out the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Programme in Mayibuye Primary School in Soweto. In the same year the programme started, a young 7 year old girl, Palesa* joined. Palesa was an active, ambitious and talented girl however she appeared to look younger, smaller and frailer than her peers from the same age group. Palesa dreamed of becoming a nurse when she finished school.

During February 2007 Palesa became ill. She was in and out of hospital and as a result absent from school most days. There was a time when Palesa was absent from school for an entire week. There was great concern for the situation whereupon the OLF Co-ordinator and the School’s HIV Co-ordinator, decided to conduct a home visit to the family. Whilst visiting Palesa’s home, the co-ordinators were told by her sister and grandmother that she had been taken to hospital by their neighbours, as her grandmother could not manage to walk the long distance to the hospital.

The Co-ordinators learnt that both Palesa’s parents had passed away when she was very young and tragically, while Palesa was in hospital, her grandmother passed away.

Palesa was discharged from hospital after some time under the care of her sister. OLF referred Palesa to the Department of Health’s Antiretroviral Treatment Clinic (ART) in Soweto where she was placed on treatment the same day she went to the clinic. OLF requested that Palesa’s neighbour monitor the adherence to her medication. Her health improved gradually with the help of treatment, frequent home visits for emotional support and food parcels for the family. After a month Palesa returned to school a healthier child.

Palesa today is healthy and a happy a 10 year old child! She is still part of the Kidz Club that OLF runs in the community and she receives continual support from the Department of Health (for the ARVs) and the school that she attends.

*Palesa not her real name.

Port Elizabeth Grannies on the go

Four Grandmothers from the Veeplaas Community Granny Support Group are proud to share their beadwork skills with learners from Harvest Christian School in Port Elizabeth.

Two years ago Nomonde Siwani (OLIVE LEAF Foundation fieldworker) motivated the four women to begin beadwork lessons. Not only did Nomonde find a member of the community to help teach the grannies the skills needed for beadwork, but she also invited interested parties to come and view the beadwork creations. All the visitors, including Melissa du Toit who is a Teacher at Harvest Christian School in Walmer, were amazed with the talent and skill.

During February Melissa returned to visit the grannies from the Support Group but this time she was not there to purchase beadwork, but rather came with another agenda in mind. Melissa asked the grannies if they would be willing to share their skills and teach beadwork classes at The Harvest Christian School in Walmer.

The school has offered them remuneration in return for teaching the learners from the school beadwork skills. The four Grandmothers are all carers of orphaned and vulnerable children and therefore welcomed not only the opportunity to pass on their skills to learners but also to earn money to support their families.

"I worried about whether I would be able to feed my grandchildren because the grant from the government is so low. By coming to this support group I discovered that I had a skill to use to generate an income. I was happy about this. But I am even happier to know that my skill is needed to teach others how to create something beautiful" (Mrs Sokola, one of the Grnadmothers from the Support Group).

Congratulations to the members of the Veeplas Granny Support Group and to Nomonde Siwani for all her hard work with this project!

Our first Newsletter

Our first Internal Newsletter was published in September 2009.