Hello All!

It has been a busy spring at ASAP. As many of you know, we lost the permaculture manager at one of our partner CBOs in the Eastern Cape. A fund has been started in her name to educate her five children.

Now, onto better, more exciting news! Thanks to the generosity and support of our funders, ASAP has enlisted the services of Malcom Worby of www.happi-online.org to build two new community centres at our CBOs in Masupha and Thabaneng. Malcolm has years of experience with adobe mud brick, and his environmentally conscious building techniques can both save money and reduce the carbon footprint of a house by up to 80%. Though the structures are Malcolm’s design, the building is being executed by local villagers, and the women have cut and baled the straw for the thatch and made the mud bricks themselves. With these new skills, it is ASAPs hope that further employment opportunities will present themselves for many of these hard-working men and women. So far, the bricks have been formed, the walls are up and brand-new fencing for permaculture gardens is in place. Things are in full swing, and the buildings should be completed in a few months!

The first Food and Trees for Africa training was held in December with Itekeng Batswadi and Mamohau drop-in centres and Maria Linden Junior Secondary School. The fences have been installed, three gardens have been designed, and the soil prepared for planting early next year.

As you know, empowering and training our village health workers and youth is one of ASAPs fundamental goals. We sponsor several trainings per year, facilitated by experts from around the globe. Though all of our trainings are successful and reported on with rave reviews, a few of 2008?s stand-out trainings were the CHMT and PYE.

CHMT—locally known as Siyayinqoba-BEAT IT!—was an incredible opportunity for our CBO staff, village health workers, and youth to become qualified HIV/AIDS peer educators. The training was intensive and covered HIV/AIDS from all angles, and at the end we gave them two DVD players to accommodate the 21-disc set of instructional videos. As we speak, the newly trained and certified participants are out in the rural areas sharing their knowledge and raising HIV/AIDS awareness.

BEAT IT! trainees getting their certificates

Partnership for Youth Empowerment (PYE) training was held at Hlomelikusasa in September. A selection of 15 youth and our younger CBO staff members were given the skills to then facilitate a camp for 30 kids in the area. The workshop, held by Charlie Murphy, was designed to help young people build self-esteem, support their peers, explore important issues, learn new skills, receive mentorship and guidance, and have fun. And that’s exactly what it did! Hlomelikusasa’s youth coordinator put the group together and has since been diligently working to strengthen a core of responsible, active youth that can be advocates in their rural areas and form strong community bonds.

We have many more trainings planned for 2010. The mood in South Africa is buzzing with the impending excitement of the 2010 World Cup, and ASAP hopes to take some of that excitement and turn it into productivity for our dedicated community groups and the children who’s lives they are constantly changing for the better.

The Holiday Tree Giving Campaign is running until December 19th–so far we’ll be planting over 150 trees! Thank you all for your support, and Happy New Year!