An Update From The Winnie Mabaso Foundation

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Back in 2017, when we launched our Hand of Friendship campaign in support of the Winnie Mabaso Foundation, we could never have imagined where it would lead.

“Friend” readers instantly took this wonderful charity to their hearts and responded with quite simply stunning levels of warmth and generosity.

You truly have reached out the Hand of Friendship across the miles to South Africa. And in doing so have made a profound and lasting difference to the lives of children there.

Lisa Ashton MBE, the Winnie Mabaso Foundation’s founder and CEO, has a special Christmas update for “Friend” readers.

Wow, it’s almost Christmas! Where did 2019 go?

It was a wonderful year to celebrate 150 years of “The People’s Friend”.

Bonds of friendship

Whilst we are thousands of miles away in South Africa, we are reminded daily of the bonds of friendship and love that exist between us, as our beautiful mural celebrating such a special anniversary still adorns our pre-school wall.

We will have to think about what to replace it with in 2020. Please feel free to send me your ideas.

We are enormously grateful to you for sponsoring our pre-school for the second year running. If we receive a few more donations, you may be funding us for yet another year!

Our tiny tots continue to thrive and I am so proud of all they are achieving.

It’s such a blessing to see how they develop into confident, capable little people by the time they move up to primary school.

Life can be tough for them, as they come from such underprivileged backgrounds.

But along with a fun-packed educational daily programme, we ensure that they all have a healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks to fill them up.

They love spending time at their pre-school. We have been able to purchase lots of fantastic educational toys and outdoor play equipment with the money you sent to us.

They are all very excited about Christmas

They are currently busy preparing lots of Christmas decorations. I can never get used to Christmas time in the sunshine!

The children at the orphanage are all well, too.

In the past year we have invested in additional tuition for them. Three times per week we have private tutors coming in, to help with their studies, and we are seeing such a huge difference in their academic ability.

They are all very excited about Christmas and the house is filled with lots of home-made decorations and paintings.

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Photograph courtesy of the Winnie Mabaso Foundation.

You may remember that, last time I wrote to you, I told you about my dreams of opening a sports field on a new piece of land the government had given to us.

Several of you were keen to make this happen and kindly sent me some donations towards it.

Well, I am delighted to tell you that it is now almost complete. We are just waiting for the football nets and netball posts and we are good to go!

We have sports lessons planned from January 2020 and I can’t wait to see the difference this is going to make to the children.

I will send you photos as soon as it is up and running.

Medical supplies

The other exciting development is our brand new remote clinic and first-aid unit which was gifted to us by another charity called the Footprints Foundation.

We opened in October and have already provided eye tests and spectacles to over 200 people.

The elderly now have regular health checks and babies have been vaccinated.

In addition, we have been able to train 40 people in first aid.

This new centre is a phenomenal gift to the community and I can’t wait to update you on how this develops over the coming weeks and months.

We are looking for donations for medical supplies and I hope some of you might be keen to help us with this.

Our veggie gardens continue to thrive

The ladies at our Sew Amazing sewing school are making some beautiful things now. They have been selling at a local market, which is bringing them in a small income.

I am so proud of how they have improved. It’s not that long ago that they could not even sew a button on. Now they are designing dresses and making an amazing array of items.

I wish you could all come and see them in action!

Our veggie gardens continue to thrive, providing beautiful homegrown produce for the community.

Spinach and beetroot are popular here, and as it’s currently our summer we are able to grow lots.

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Photograph courtesy of the Winnie Mabaso Foundation.

Our Feeding Station is busier than ever, with new families moving on to the settlement where we are based.

We are making a hot meal for over 850 people every Friday.

It keeps us very busy, as you can imagine, and we have had to invest in bigger pots.

We are always looking for donations towards this vital area of our work and a donation of just £5 feeds 20 people.

Our granny trip to the seaside is happening later this month so I will be updating you with plenty of photos and news on this trip of a lifetime.

A Christmas gift

Thanks to all of you who sent donations towards this. We have some really exciting days out planned for our grannies – and, of course, our gatecrashing grandpa!

I can’t wait to see their reaction when they finally get to see the sea for the very first time!

I would be more than happy to provide you with a gift certificate if you wanted to donate to one of our initiatives, in lieu of a Christmas or birthday gift for a friend or family member.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas filled with love and a happy and healthy 2020.

I’ll be in touch in the New Year!

For more updates from our Hand Of Friendship campaign partners, click here.

For more information on the charities supported by “The People’s Friend”, click here.

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Iain McDonald

Iain is Digital Content Editor at the "Friend", making him responsible for managing flow of interesting and entertaining content on the magazine's website and social media channels.