15 years ago, Zulufadders founder, Mari Maurstad, was on vacation in South Africa when she met retired local nurse, Aurelia, and the Zulufadder project was born.
Zulufadder has become a significant organisation with secure roots in the communities we serve but, today, we think we should reflect on what we have achieved, take a step back, and decide just how we should be moving forward for the next 15 years.
It's time to look ahead because, what started with the primary aim of providing food for undernourished children, has now become a focus on education.
Many things have changed in our Zulufadder children’s lives including the fact that they are all growing up.
While we have always regularly reviewed our procedures, during the past year we have intensified our home visits with a view to reassessing all our beneficiaries and determining what their current needs are.
In addition, we are looking for evidence that families can help themselves and checking to see whether their circumstances have improved.
One thing has become clear from this exercise – Things are better than they used to be!
And nothing could be better news for us!
Our goal is that our families can fend for themselves and, thanks to you, we are starting to see this goal in sight!
With your help, many have now got their ID papers (which qualifies them for grants and pensions), those that need it have access to HIV testing (and medication if necessary), some have developed vegetable gardens, others have new houses, and many have found new employment opportunities.
School and tertiary education
One of our great frustrations over the years has been that the public-school system does not achieve its goals. Poor management and teaching standards, absenteeism by both teachers and pupils, lack of resources all contribute to a low pass rate. Then, in 2010, Gratton school asked if we would take over their primary school with 31 students.
Today we have over 400 students and have grown the school from kindergarten to grade 12 with our first students graduating as bachelors in 2019.
Not everyone at the school is a Zulufadder child. It costs too much. But our business model of admitting fee paying children to the school makes it possible for us to have the best of both worlds. We always used to say, "We wish all our children could go to Gratton," but in this way we can give the opportunity for a good education to many more children each year.
As a bonus, more will have the opportunity to attend university after graduation and we are already supporting young people in this way with some having already earned their degrees.
Teach a man to fish...
Zulufadder started by providing hot meals and monthly food parcels. In those days the children and their families were undernourished and poor. This has changed to the extent that we can see the improvement in community health and confidence.
Of course, there are still families that need this kind of help, and Zulufadder will continue to support them until they can fend for themselves.
But I think we all agree that providing education, at all levels, is effective, sustainable and will provide the greatest return on our investment in the long run as these young people take their rightful places in society.
So, what type of sponsor would you like to be from January 2020?
In order to realign our activities and achieve our new goals it is necessary to rethink the sponsorship categories that are currently in place because we need to allocate more of our funding to providing education.
We would like you to consider the following options and please bear in mind that, in order to hold the monthly sponsorship rate at the same level it will be necessary, in some instances, to allocate more than one sponsor to a child.
- Sponsor a child to Gratton
The child may have up to four sponsors and this will cover about half of the tuition and boarding every month. The rest of the costs will be covered by subsidies from the state and other paying students.
- Sponsor a student at university
The student will have up to two sponsors to cover a monthly allowance for board and lodging.
- Sponsor a child or family who need help
There will still be children and families needing help and we may allocate up to two sponsors per family. This will provide a little extra for them to make ends meet until they can take care of themselves.
- Be a general sponsor
Your donations will go towards schoolbooks, better teachers, technology, school infrastructure, uniforms and all the resources needed to run a school.
What happens to my current sponsor child?
- Many of our children attend rural schools but some are already attending Gratton school or are students at university.
From January 2020 more sponsor children will have this opportunity. However, if we determine that a family can now be self-sustaining, we will transfer their support to a needy case. You will receive a separate mail from us about your sponsor child and what are the options are but, of course, if you choose to continue sponsoring your current child you may do so.
Can I still buy a gift for my sponsor child?
- You can buy "one last Gift" for your current sponsor child when our new website is launched (during September). The gifts will be released as orders are received to ease the pressure in December.
- The gift shop will continue, and you can buy gifts as usual.
My sponsor child is HIV positive. Will he/she still get medicine?
- HIV Medicine is free in South Africa and anyone who tests positive starts on medicine immediately.
- Doctors Without Borders are working in Eshowe and will continue large-scale testing in the years to come. In addition, all pregnant women are checked automatically.
Why does Zulufadder focus on children who are academically strong?
This is a very difficult and challenging question, but after reviewing it thoroughly, we have realised that we need to make the best use of our resources, namely, limited places and limited funds. However, as our resources improve, we will certainly strive to accommodate everyone. All children intending to attend Gratton school are tested to assess their suitability.
What will happen to Zulufadder employees?
- In January 2020 some employees will be redeployed while others will have already started projects such as chicken or goat farming and vegetable gardening.
- Zulufadder will retrench employees who cannot be employed and assist them to find new employment or occupations.
Will Zulufadder still build houses for families?
- The South African government has built many houses in recent years and some of our beneficiaries have received a new house from the State, which we are very happy about!
Questions or comments?
We want transparency around the changes we're planning and that is why we are writing to you.
You may have other questions and you are welcome to contact us at any time.
We will also send out fresh information from time to time when necessary.
We hope that you will join us on this exciting new journey. Changing the lives of children forever by giving them an education!
Mari Maurstad and the Zulufadder team