The HELP children are now being exposed to much more than just literacy and numeracy. Their education is being expanded to include the arts which we have found is essential during this very difficult time for humanity. Clearly COVID and the lockdowns have had disastrous effects on everybody but more so on the children as they do not really understand the full implications and are being subjected to fear from every angle. It is therefore essential that they are taught ways in which they can express their feelings and enjoy the creative processes. What better ways than giving voice to their frustrations, banging away on drums or watching a myriad of colours appear on their paper?
Meet the Children HELP Support
The children come from a diverse cultural background: whether they are from South Africa or refugees from broader Africa, they all have a history which is hard for us to understand and comprehend. Besides their appalling living conditions and family lives, these children are survivors against all odds.
Drugs, stabbing, rape, TB, AIDS, xenophobic attacks are all part of their daily life. Stability, love and support are words that do not form part of their world – this is what HELP is adamant in providing besides making sure that the children are provided with food.
The children are therefore often wary of an adult, in many cases they have little perception of trust and find it difficult to communicate.
BUT most important of all, these children have not necessarily had the luxury of stimulation and encouragement during their four formative years. Very few of them have ever been read bedtime stories, or had a parent who will show/teach them different shapes, colours, numbers which are all essential elements for basic education.
As a result, once these children come to school (7 years old), they often find it hard to adjust to sitting still, having to share an eraser and listen to instructions. The school syllabus presents not only totally new concepts, but the lessons are also given in a foreign language, English. English is often the children’s third or even fourth language.
How We Help
However, HELP has given these children a new chance.
In the ten and a half years that we have been operational, we have achieved not only academic results, but a complete turn-around of the HELP children’s results.
The HELP children have far more confidence and are now not afraid to ask questions, to voice their opinions and, generally speaking, have improved in their social skills with regard to their fellow pupils.
Academically it is difficult to put definite percentages on the improvements but it would be fair to say that the children, under our guidance, have achieved between 40-50% increases in their marks. This is due to their now understanding the questions, having a better grip on the English language and having the confidence to try and answer a question.
Giving a bit of HELP’s history. In July 2011, two Grade 6 students joined HELP, barely able to read or write English. Through due diligence on their part, and loving support on ours, they were offered a 50% bursary to a high school college. True to their work ethic and dedication, they are excelling and one of the students is the top performing Maths student whilst the other one is top in English in her grade.
At the beginning of 2016 one of our star learners from Capricorn Primary won a full scholarship to attend Rondebosch Boys’ High School. So \outstanding were his achievements that he was made Deputy Head Boy in 2020. He is an all-rounder from being a great dancer and soccer player to achieving top marks and socially a popular guy as well. We are very proud of him.
Working with children is a very rewarding job and watching their progress on many levels is highly satisfying. Seeing their struggles when they first start at HELP and then, when they leave, they are so
much more confident and self-assured. This inspires us to continue with our program as there are also many difficulties to overcome. It is imperative to form a relationship of trust and reliability with the children.
Volunteers Make The Difference
We have a huge amount to thank our volunteers for, because, without them, HELP would not be able to sustain the large number of students that we assist. Our volunteers are dedicated and sincere, committed and trustworthy and as such they are wonderful role models to our young children.
We have been very fortunate to have volunteers from Springfield Convent and The American International School who have contributed an enormous amount with their time, dedication and love. The HELP children are always excited when the Springfield children arrive and they are encouraged to ask questions and discuss many issues with each other. After doing their work, they all play various games and have fun as they improve their studies and general knowledge.
In the past, the American International School has also hosted Fun Days at their school for the HELP learners and it was wonderful to watch them interact in sports activities, dancing, painting, face painting and racing.
“One of the greatest gifts HELP has received this year is Neville Sherman or “Mr. Neville” (pictured above) who is a retired principal from the UK and has taught in Dubai and Vietnam. Neville has brought a myriad of musical instruments, drums, shakers, boom whackers etc. and a phenomenal experience in teaching the kids to get the beat!!! Neville also teaches the children art and acting and so the really difficult year is transformed into a year of fun when they come to HELP.”
We need R500,000 a year to cover our basic operational costs and a small amount goes a long way to helping us provide the HELP our children need. Click on a donation amount below that fits in with your budget and know that your donation is going to providing lunches, stationery, and operational expenses.