A Spring of Hope and Simunye

Recently, Annekim Geerdes, our South Africa Liason, met with a group called the Simunye Project. The mission of this group is to empower young Australian and American high school students by focusing on improving education and living conditions in South Africa. Once (or twice) a year a group of incredibly motivated and inspiring teachers bring approximately 45 of these teenagers on a 17-day working holiday to South Africa. This year they stayed most nights at Southern Cross School and worked at Tshepang (Joburg), Manyeleti Primary School, Educare Day Care Centre (in Hluvukani), New Life Day Care Centre (in Welverdiend) where they improved the facilities (classroom renovation, buying new desks and chairs, building playground equipment) and develop teaching skills amongst the staff.

Annekim had the pleasure of introducing them to some of ASoH partners and getting them involved in some of the schools that are particularly under-privileged. She describes her experience:

Last Friday I contacted Mel and that same evening I met the entire team during a delicious dinner prepared at Southern Cross Boarding Facilities. I enjoyed sharing my story, listening to their inspiring backgrounds, and drove home with a huge smile on my face. Meeting such a pure, friendly, and heartwarming group op people does not happen every day. We spoke about many things and shared many thoughts and feelings.

The Simunye Team can only make these trips happen once (maybe twice) a year. Therefore they would like to have someone close to their projects who can occasionally visit the schools/day care centres and report back to the team leaders. They would also like the local ladies and teachers involved in their projects to join Leanette’s permaculture program at Beretta. Simunye can assist with the things that ASoH does not focus on, such as improvement of the school facilities (painting classrooms/buildings, placing a playground, supplying the projects with furniture or other needs).

On Saturday morning (the morning after our first meeting) I brought two of the Simunye teamleaders (Mel and Peter) to two of our projects which I think would be perfect for next years’ group of Simunye-kids! These are Masweni Primary School and Tsakelani Crèche. Masweni has absolutely nothing yet and is in need of almost everything (fence, water, toilets, kitchen, playground, classrooms, paint etc.) Tsakelani Creche, while having the structures, is far from a child-friendly environment. There is no color, no toys, no bedding on the floors, no playground.

We started the morning, however, with a visit to Leanette at Beretta Primary because I believe that everyone in the world should meet this amazing person and see the difference that she makes in her community with her permaculture garden.



To strengthen this newly formed bond between myself and the Simunye group, and to spend as much time with them as possible I decided to invite all 60 (or so) of them to visit Thulani. I wanted them to get the full picture of what ASoH does and how we too involve foreign guests in the work we do. The teenagers loved the pool (even though its freezing) and I was asked to give them a short lecture on ASoH’s mission and the concept of permaculture. It was a short visit but we had a fantastic afternoon!

Finally, on Tuesday, I was invited for a farewell dinner at Hat & Creek. Once again a wonderful evening and the certainty of a forever lasting new friendship. Thank you so much Mel, Peter, Sam, Tanya and all the other names I forgot.. (sorry!). I am very thankful for all your stories and the energy you gave me.

Also, Mel, the donation you made to our projects… there are no words to tell you how much I appreciate that. I have never seen so many sleeping bags, towels, grocery bags, soccer balls, toiletries and other goods in my life! Many hearts will be touched when I drop all these off at our project schools. THANK YOU!