A World of Difference

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Building Blitz 2018 is only days away! It promises to be a truly life-changing experience during which we will complete our most ambitious school building blitz ever, to include the major extension and overhaul of 2 primary schools and 1 secondary school in the largest township on the Cape Flats.

“Khayelitsha”, which literally means “new home” in the Xhosa language, is a vibrant area but also one of huge deprivation where our help is sorely needed! With a population of approximately 500,000, over half of the 118,000 households live in shacks made mostly of tin and corrugated metal and 1 in 3 people has to walk 200 metres or more just to access water. Khayelitsha is also a very youthful township – just 7% of the township’s population is above the age of 50 and more than 40% of its residents are below age the of 19. The need therefore, for the township’s schools to provide a good solid education with adequate facilities and teaching and learning resources was never more important. It is key to the future success of Khayelitsha’s young people helping to break the cycle of poverty and reduce the likelihood of unemployment and crime. There are currently only 30 primary schools and 18 senior schools serving the township and our mission this week is to completely transform 3 of them!

At Sosebenza Primary School we will create 7 classrooms, a playground and sheltered social area, benefitting 1,350 pupils. At Sobambisana Primary School we will build a science laboratory, classroom, kitchen and playground, thereby vastly improving facilities for the 1,200 children who currently attend this school. Last year’s Blitz saw Mellon Educate volunteers complete works at 2 Khayelitsha Primary Schools, one of which was Ummangaliso Primary School. This year we will be helping to improve facilities at its senior school Usasazo High School, which is currently attended by 1,100 pupils. In this school we will create 8 classrooms, a kitchen, sports field, sheltered social area and outdoor gym. It will take an enormous amount of hard work to complete these 3 separate projects in just 1 week but also hugely satisfying to know that once the work is done, not only will we have given over 3,650 children the chance of a better brighter future but we will also take home with us a remarkable achievement.

Volunteer fundraising is not just about building classrooms or physically enhancing schools. As an education charity, our goal must also be to improve the level of sustainable results in these schools. Once the building work has been completed, our top team of specialist educators begin to mentor the principal and teachers of these schools. This 2 to 3 year Mellon Way programme runs in every community school our charity partners with. The Mellon Way is delivered by a hand-picked team of South Africa’s finest principals and teachers with proven track records, who train and mentor the school’s management and teaching staff. They provide teaching staff with the essential tools and skills to significantly improve the pupil’s results. Mathematics and literacy are core learning areas, and by mentoring the teachers, extending the school day and introducing holiday school, we maximise the learners exposure to reading, writing and arithmetic. Mellon Educate is all about putting into place the tools that give these schools a long-term sustainable future. We equip these schools with the knowledge and skill set to achieve a pass rate that they never dreamed was possible. Most of these schools have a fail rate of as high as 90%. In every school that we work with, we are committed to achieving a pass rate of 75%. We are extremely proud to see that our efforts continue to be recognised and rewarded! In just over 3 years we’re seeing very real progress and a number of our schools have received awards from the Western Cape Education Department and we are committed to ensure that more schools develop and thrive to enjoy similar success. Concordia High School, currently attended by 1,100 learners and based in the Eastern Cape, recently received first prizes in every category of its local Knysna Municipality Library Book Club Competition including English reading, Xhosa reading and debate. Considering Mellon Educate only began to work with this struggling school earlier this year, it is a real testimony to the charity’s first class education support strategies led by John Curran and Derick Peterson, voted SA best principal in 2013.

There are over 285 volunteers travelling to Cape Town this year including over 90 new volunteers from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia and South Africa who join our multinational Mellon Educate family members from Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia, Germany, Holland and Spain. Our 2017 School Building Blitz really is an incredible collective effort from all corners of the world. 11 days and counting…