Monday, January 31, 2011

Mark Beaumont

I invited Mark Beaumont, the former holder of the world record for cycling round the world, to give a talk at our school. I spent the weekend with him and it proved very interesting. For such a young guy, he is very self-assured and has achieved a great deal. He wrote a book about his experiences called 'The man who cycled the world'. I am always interested in people with inspiring stories or who have overcome adversity. Last year I invited Jamie Andrew (see below) to our school for the same reason. You might know that he had a quadruple amputation after having been stranded in the French Alps for 5 days.

The talk was very well received. Many kids came up and spoke to Mark afterwards and there were lots of questions after the talk from the audience. My  hope is that some of our students will be inspired to go and be an individual where it is so easy to conform in this world.

Read this book!
 It proves to be a fascinating talk. He recently completed his second book, still to be published , on his journey cycling from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. There have been two documentaries made about his journeys.

The reason for putting this post here is that Mark is involved in a great deal of charity projects in the UK and in the developing world. He agrees with me that it is better to donate to specific projects and see your money make a difference than to donate anonymously to a big charity. If you like this post, please read my others. I am trying to raise money for Swazi youth to go to university. Swaziland is a small landlocked country between South Africa and Mozambique. It is beset with problems. I believe education is key. I have known this one youth for 5 years and sponsored him out of my own pocket through secondary school but I don't have enough cash to send him to university.

Mark and my son Patrick, a devoted fan!
If you feel able to donate even a small amount, it will be gratefully received. I have direct connections to Swaziland and keep in regular contact with those I help. Help me to help others.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A great source of news for Africa.

Dreams of Free Education Deferred

Mbabane — Ten-year-old Tembuso Magagula sat outside her classroom with her shoulders hunched against the cold today, tears streaming from her eyes. Her long-awaited first day of school had turned into a nightmare.
Magagula expected to start grade one this year - four years late - as a beneficiary of the Free Primary Education programme which started on Jan. 26 in all public schools.
But the head teacher at Qedusizi Primary School, Petros Zwane, was not in a compromising mood. Government may be paying the fees for grades one and two, but Zwane sent home every child who did not in school uniform.
"Uniform is very important, even for those under the FPE," insisted Zwane. "Government should buy uniforms for destitute children because I will not allow them into the classroom."
A sobbing Magagula said, "I've never been to school because my mother could not afford the fees. She said she doesn't have money for the school uniform."
Her mother is a street vendor in Swaziland's administrative capital, Mbabane; the whereabouts of her father are unknown. Magagula was not the only child in distress as the school year began.

Read the rest of the article here.: 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thembi, 'Even the Children, They Call a Person With Aids a 'Rotten Potato'


Sipofaneni — Thembi (last name withheld) is a 33-year-old HIV-positive mother of three who has lived in rural poverty all her life. She lives alone with her children amid the low green hills of Swaziland's central Manzini region, while her husband is away working in South Africa.
"I am worried that I messed up my treatment. I have missed clinic appointments. Sometimes when this happens I run out of medications. I started ARVs almost two years ago, but it is off and on. I am alone most of the time with my three small children. I have no money for bus fare and the clinic is too far to walk. Also I am very tired most days. If I could follow my treatment better maybe I would have more energy, but I do the best I can.
"The children have to be looked after. The neighbour's two-year-old girl drowned in a bucket of water. She fell in head first. It was only five minutes, but when her mother returned she was dead. Something like that scares me more than missing my medications.
"I have not told my husband I am HIV positive. I got it from him, so I know he must have HIV but he hasn't tested. They tested me when I was pregnant with my youngest. She is now two years old. I am silent because he chased away his first wife when he learned she was HIV-positive. I am [his] second wife. The first [wife] fell ill and when she told him she was HIV [-positive] he sent her to her parents' homestead. He blamed her. He did not test because maybe he was scared but I tested, because of her.
"No one knows I have HIV but the clinic ... No one must know I have HIV. They can blame me and chase me away. Even the children, they call a person with AIDS a 'rotten potato'. People shun you. People die of AIDS and no one will say this is the reason because then some relatives will refuse you to be buried in the family graveyard.
"When I go to the clinic I take my children. I tell my in-laws we are going for their check-ups. I hide my ARVs where no one will find them. I feel very alone doing this. But I don't want to die. I love my children so much. I love my husband even though he can be ignorant and cruel. But he is better off with me in his life than with me dead.
"We have nothing, no electricity, and the water comes from far away. I like to sing. We sing and pray together as a family. My children like to hear me sing. They have their favourite songs they ask me to sing. I will stay alive so I can sing for them a long time."

Monday, January 03, 2011

Entry deferred

Nhlanhla's entry into University has been officially deferred to 2012.