Visit to Awarenet by German sister organisation!

Awarenet was visited by Dr Eva Hert, board member of its German sister organisation, who tells us the following about  her visit to a variety of the Awarenet projects:

In February this year my husband and I came to South Africa where we used to live some 30 years ago in Grahamstown – now Makhanda. It was a unique journey for us full of old memories as well as new discoveries. I am a board member of the German Village Scribe Association (which supports the Awarenet program) since almost the beginning and so I was certain to take the opportunity to visit the Joza Youth Hub, the community center in Makhanda where Awarenet is based. Kjetil Torp, the director of the Awarenet team took us to the site and showed us around.

Zizo Ngwane, an Awarenet grade 9 learner, with a globe donated by Eva Hert to mark Awarenet’s ties to South Africa and Germany.

We arrived there on a Thursday afternoon and were quite amazed how busy the place was. Many things were going on not only at the Awarenet open lab , but also at the other sections of the Youth Hub. The computer labs were crowded, not one terminal unused, the room neat and tidy and fairly quiet. The kids were concentrating on their home work or school projects and some were playing games all supervised by a staff member.

Eva Hert with Kjetil Torp at the Joza Youth Hub

Further down the corridor we got to know the new Awarenet robotics team which has just kicked off for 2023 and visited NV Cewu, one of the 6 primary schools where of the many sites where robotics is taught at NV Cewu. It was fantastic to watch this new way of learning through coding and hands-on building a robot. The kids were really excited and not least was the teacher. As a surprise to me, there was no fighting over the Lego material provided. Later on I asked Kjetil how this can be. He explained that sharing is a principle that the children learn from scratch in their families.

Children at NV Cewu busy with robotics building

We also watched a drummers class in the open at the Joza Youth Hub conducted by Access Music Project and could sense the overall “Have Fun with Learning”- atmosphere of the Joza Youth Hub. I could perceive that the kids really like this space of education and collaboration. Back then, it started so small with Anna’s and Ron’s initiative to bring knowledge to the youth of Joza via computer literacy. It has, over the years, grown into a truly valuable institution for the local community. It is a success story. Being a member of those who have supported it, made me feel proud and grateful.

Drummer’s session at the Joza Youth Hub

From the Joza Youth Hub Kjetil took us to St Mary’s Day Care Centre which works in close cooperation with the Joza Youth Hub by receiving participants from the Social Employment Fund under the auspices of Awarenet. It is the city’s oldest community organization and was initiated by Theodora Henderson as part of GADRA, a local education NGO. This was a very special encounter for me as I used to volunteer for GADRA in 1994.

We enjoyed our visit to Joza Youth Hub and St Mary’s DCC and thoroughly appreciated the friendliness of Kjetil Torp, who is so terrifically communicative, multi-lingual and sincerely engaged in the project with heart and soul.

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