by Staff Reporter
The Grahamstown and Grahamstown Sunset Rotary Clubs’ upgrade of seven local schools is running at full steam, with Samuel Ntsiko and George Dickerson the next schools on the list of seven to receive upgraded kitchen and bathroom facilities.
A gathering at Ntsika Senior Secondary School on 4 March brought together all the people involved in the Rotary International Seven Schools Water and Sanitation project. Rotary also took the regional director of Rotary Grants, Elizabeth Davis (a key fundraiser for the project) on a tour of the schools.
“She was very impressed with our progress so far and indicated she would be supportive of future similar grant applications. She informed us that, currently, ours is the only maximum $400 000 (R6.5 million) global grant in South Africa; the only other one underway in Southern Africa is in Zambia focussing on eradication of malaria”, said Rotary Grahamstown president Belinda Tudge.
The funding came mainly from Rotary Clubs and individual Rotarians at Jackson Hole in Wyoming in the USA, and from other US Rotary Clubs and Clubs in the UK, Canada, and even Brazil. A large number of individuals donated and there are over 80 donors to the project in total.
Speaking at Ntsika Secondary School on 24 March, Gavin Keeton, the Rotary Club of Grahamstown’s former president said the donors were attracted to Makhanda schools because, despite the problems of lack of water in Makhanda, load shedding, and poor maintenance by the government, there had been amazing improvements in the academic performance of the town’s schools.
“The Seven Schools project is…a sign of community support for a local education achievement which in the South African context is “miraculous”. It sends a message of support and hope to the pupils and teachers of Makhanda”, Keeton added.
The project’s donors were keen to demonstrate to all the pupils of Makhanda that they do matter in the eyes of Rotary and the local community and “that their personal dignity is as important as the dignity of the pupils in the well-off schools in our town, where toilets are hygienic and always flush. Where there is a door that gives you privacy” said Keeton.
As the project has unfolded over the past three years, Rotary has had to grapple with the rising inflation and soaring prices of hardware. BUCO helped them bulk buy all the toilets, basins, tiles, and doors required to refurbish all schools rather than individual contractors buying separately, which helped keep costs down.
“We have finished at Mary Waters, are almost finished at Khutliso Daniels, and making great progress at Tantyi and Fikizolo. We will give the go-ahead for Nombulelo in the next few days. I can reassure Samuel Ntsiko and George Dickerson schools that we have not forgotten them and are turning our attention to producing bills of quantity for their projects. We hope to complete the entire project around mid-year” Keeton added.
The Diocesan School for Girls, St Andrew’s College, Kingswood College, and Victoria Girls High School are helping out by sending maintenance teams to train maintenance staff at the schools. Members of the Rotary Club will also keep in touch with the seven school principals after all the upgrades are finished.
“Our dream, and that of our funders, is that this project will be the model for future projects here in Makhanda, where we are very aware that there are schools whose needs we have not yet touched at all. We hope it will be the model for future Rotary projects in our Rotary District, and even the model for all of South Africa” said Keeton.