This blog has got to start off with a BIG “Thank you”. I suspect that many people reading this will have received our appeal for funds, which Dave sent out to all ex-guests. We have been quite blown away by the response. So many people have responded wonderfully, through buying “shares”, pledging support, or pointing us in the direction of funders. Thank you all!
We can now keep our heads above water for the next few months, though we still have quite a way to go in terms of fundraising. This buys us the time to write the final plan and funding proposal for the school, and also to be in contact with funders and donors. All of you who have helped have supplied us with a lifeline.
We will also be using this lifeline to continue making connections and building relationships. This is a huge part of my job at present. The NO-OFISI school is, and will remain, a government school. Yet our approach is well outside the usual government approach for rehabilitating rural schools. This means that buy-in to our vision from the Department of Education (DOE) for what we are doing is essential, so that we are granted to flexibility to be innovative, but continue to receive the usual financial and practical support. Also, since we want to pilot a model which can be used for the rehabilitation of other crisis rural schools in the Eastern Cape we need input from the DOE, so that we know what they need and how we can provide that. So, we have been working to create the right relationships both at a local level, and at a national level.
Perhaps surprisingly, this has been far easier at a national than at a local level. I mentioned in the last blog that I had had a successful meeting with Thandi Lewin (Director of Equity in Education) and Themba Kojana (Director of Rural Education). Last week we upped the ante even more. Lindiwe Mavuso, who has an organisation called Afro-optimist that markets social justice organisations, organised us a meeting with Martin Mulcahy, chief advisor to the National Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor. (Lindiwe is currently helping us voluntarily, and we are very grateful.)
In the meeting Martin Mulcahy gave myself, Rejane and Lindiwe a good grilling of pertinent questions (which made us very nervous) and then, at the end, suggested an action plan and said he thinks the project really exciting (which made us very happy). He suggested that perhaps the work done by the Bulungula Incubator should be seen by the government as a pilot for a new approach to rural development. If that can be the case, we will be ecstatic. We are working together to see how we could do this. Now, I am focusing on continuing to make and strengthen the right connections at a local and provincial level.
So, there have been fantastic responses all round. We are so very excited by the project, but I admit that I am continually surprised when other people get excited, too. It is a lovely surprise to keep having. I hope I don’t wisen up too soon!
A consequence of the the recent rains: The school has collapsed