Volunteer says future is in reading

2016-04-13 06:00
MALEPA MAPHELEBA is happy to work with the kids at the Golden Gateway Hospice in Bohlokong near Bethlehem.

MALEPA MAPHELEBA is happy to work with the kids at the Golden Gateway Hospice in Bohlokong near Bethlehem.

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BOHLOKONG. – Malepa Mapheleba (34), who hails from Bohlokong near Bethlehem, believes that the key to a better future and knowledge is in reading.

She says a problem that the country is faced with, is that the younger generation does not read.

Mapheleba, an Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) coordinator, with the help of the project Vodacom Change the World, works at the Golden Gateway Hospice in Bohlokong near Bethlehem.

She says to help curb the reading problem, she has sourced a mobile library to encourage reading at a younger age.

Express Eastern Free State interviewed her to hear more.

Tell us about the organisation that you are working for?

I am working at the Golden Gateway Hospice in Bohlokong near Bethlehem. It is a place that takes care of people living with life-limiting and/or life-threatening diseases, and we work with their families.

We do this by enhancing quality of life, dignity in death and support in bereavement through direct patient care, training, supervision and mentorship in the palliative care of strategic partner organisation.

Why did you choose this organisation?

I have had a relationship with this organisation. I used to work here a few years ago. At that time I was working with the adult clients and felt that the focus was more on them and less on the children.

I therefore decided to come on board, giving my full attention to the children.

Why did you decide to participate in Vodacom Change the World for the second time and how is it different from the first year?

The first year was more about developing and implementing the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) programmes in Bethlehem.

The organisation worked from a satellite office in Petsana near Reitz. I saw a much bigger need for the programmes there, but did not have enough working space.

I then decided to re-apply for a second year and this time my main aim was to build a multipurpose centre in Petsana and implement the same programmes as in Bethlehem.

The centre is ready for use and will be officially opened on 19 April.

What are your thoughts around opportunities for children in the Free State?

The Eastern Free State in my opinion has fewer opportunities, compared to the Central Free State. People are exposed to less opportunities as they are far from the city.

Here they are more focused on day-to-day activities to provide for their families and they do not go to universities.

How do you think your skills have improved the children’s lives for a better tomorrow?

Through the programmes implemented, I believe I have changed their lives.

The programmes involve Hero Book, which aims to help the children map out their future by setting goals through identifying with a hero, and learning tricks and tactics to overcome obstacles in the way of achieving their dreams.

Memory work is aimed at helping a child who is terminally ill or has a parent who is terminally ill, to work together to build memories for both of them; especially to help the parent express to the child his or her hopes and dreams for the child should the parent pass on.

Boy and Girl Care is more about social uplifment.

Children come and learn peer education and we provide toiletries and sanitary pads once a month for the girls.

In the after-school programme we help the children with homework and computer lessons and we provide them with a plate of food.

In the holiday camp we take the children out of their everyday environment so that they can have fun. The aim is to let them learn through adventure. Some of them have never been outside of Bethlehem.

Tell us more about your involvement in the programmes and day to day activities.

Monday to Thursday we focus on the after-school programme. The memory work is usually done at home during weekends when both the parent and child are available. Hero book is done during Boy and Girl Care once a month or during school holidays and holiday camps also during school holidays.

Community upliftment is one of the most important things in South Africa. How do you go about ensuring that you influence the community in a positive manner?

I believe the key to a better future and knowledge is hidden in reading and the younger generations do not read, so I sourced a mobile library to encourage reading at a younger age. And I helped teach the children how to grow a vegetable garden to try and curb dependency on government institutions.

How have you ensured that the work you have been doing will continue after your term with the programmes comes to an end?

Since the beginning of my programmes, I have always worked with someone of the organisation whom I mentored in order for the work to continue.

After my term, Golden Gateway Hospice will take over the project.

What are some of the skills you have transferred to the children and the community?

Together with Linda Hill from Sikagwenza Education & Health in KwaZulu-Natal, we have been giving training to Early Childhood Development (ECD) institutions and parents on how to make educational toys from waste, without spending any money. The recipients were from Bethlehem and Clarens.

With your term at the programmes ending soon, did you achieve what you had hoped for?

I believe I have achieved all my goals with the above-mentioned programmes because they are running on a daily basis.

What are your achievements thus far?

I was able to source a fully-equipped mobile library which came with children’s books, a television and a DVD player and a recently-built multipurpose centre in Petsana.

I believe the key to a better future and knowledge is hidden in reading.

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