Thursday 20 August 2015

Education and poverty in Mpumalanga with Viva

I had the great privilege in June 2014 to travel with the Viva Foundation to meet Pastor Jonny in his home in Kildare.

Pastor Jonny is 2nd from the right in the black jacket.

Kildare is in Mpumalanga, South Africa near Kruger National Park.

It was a 2 hour drive from Pretoriuskop Camp mostly on dirt roads

Pastor Jonny with the support of the Viva Foundation is developing the local community, with the building of a church, a school and kitchen. He told me that the biggest problems the community face are poverty, alcoholism and HIV and AIDS.

The Pastor wants to address the issues of poverty by providing education at a young age and training for the youths of the community to learn new skills they can use to gain employment. The nearest Pre School for their community is 6km away and a cost of R100 per month for lessons and R150 for the transport. Not only does Pastor Jonny want to provide training in building, but he wishes to develop the communities farming skills and teach them to become self sufficient.

There is no employment in the area and as a result most families are grandparent led due to 2 reasons: the parents work away in Gauteng and return home at the end of the month or the parents have died from AIDS, there are also many orphans in the community and Jonny’s dream is to build an orphanage for these children. Most of the men work in the mines and many were been involved in the strikes at Marikana and were without work for 5 months without pay, striking for a living wage and safety improvements. There was little income in the community for those 5 months.

Families receive social grants for their children of R320 per month, this is often the only income and despite the intention for it to be used to provide their children with education, it is often the only income to feed the entire family, therefore the children don’t attend school.

Jonny set up a crèche 2-3 years ago and employs local teachers who do not receive a salary; they currently teach in a wooden, slatted building with a tin roof and even in the middle of winter the building is hot and humid. 

The children receive a cooked meal daily, which is often the only meal they eat during the day. It is cooked outside, there is no kitchen.

Uniforms supplied by Viva

There is no water in the community and men, women and children walk 2 kms each way to Ximhungwe to fetch water. There is no municipality water available and on occasions the pipes break and then it’s a 12 km trip to fetch water, which is the basis of sustaining life. A bore hole would make  a big difference to the community.

There is however a river that runs through the community and Jonny wishes to fence off the land to enable them to farm and become self sufficient. We discussed how he could start this project starting with a small vegetable garden that the children can be involved with seeing where their food comes from, planting, nurturing the seeds, harvesting and then cooking and tasting the food and understanding the process of the foods that they eat.

On Friday's a mobile clinic visits the area, they give flu jabs, inoculate babies and treat minor illnesses for free. For more serious conditions they give a letter to take to the local hospital some 30 kms away who charge R40 to open a file. For transport to the hospital Pastor Jonny has a vehicle and he is also the person called at 2am when someone goes into labour and needs a lift.

We took tables, chairs, educational supplies, stationery, clothing, toys and food. Everything was donated collected from businesses, neighbours, colleagues and friends. 

If you want to make a donation to this project and other educational projects in South Africa please click here. Paypal address is

I will be returning to South Africa in October and November this year and hope to visit Pastor Jonny and update with all the good works that have gone on over the past year with the help and support of Viva.

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