Newsletter VII - 2016

Manana says thank you – and charms everybody!

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"My name is Manana. As you can see from the picture – I am all right! At home, however, I don’t have much support. I don’t know my father, and my mother is only 18 years old and is studying for A-levels. Therefore I live with my grandmother. My grandmother is tired and lives off her small pension of £ 81 (NOK 870) a month, which is all we three have to live off. Every day I look forward to going to the crèche. There I belong and feel safe and get a hot meal. We play and learn a lot."

(The girl in the picture is for ethical reasons not identical with Manana, but she is one of the charming children in one of the crèches Impande has built)

This prototype of a Manana story is easy to find in these poor areas in the Ugu district in South Africa. When children grow up in poverty and with minimal support in their own family, the crèche takes over the function of the real home!

A gift to «Manana» is probably the most meaningful and effective gift you can give this Christmas.

 


I. Impande News

Here's what Impande has delivered in 2016:

  • Finished the building of 8 crèches
  • Three crèches are being built
  • Built the «Dwaleshula Drop-in-Center» for approx. 200 children. It will be finished 1. March 2017
  • Invested in a small Academy (Msenti) where 60 students live and get support to take up subjects they dropped out of at A-level college.
  • Given support to Munster Development Center where there is a crèche for 98 children and where 10 women are taught and practice sewing
  • Built Mcuschwa High School’s Music department and Music school - the only music school in this district of the KwaZulu-Natal province.
  • Renovated six unusable classrooms at the KwaMa Soschwa High School
  • A chemistry and physics laboratory is being built at the Dwalalesizewe High School
  • Contractor for Hanne’s Shelter. A centre for women exposed to violence.
  • Contributed with four scholarships for sailors who will later be employed in Klaveness Shipping AS
  • Contributed towards food transport to a far away food station.

In Norway, volunteer enthusiasts within the IMPANDE network have contributed to the following:

  • Building a scholarship fund of 1 million NOK. This project has been led by Jan Erik Breen – fantastic efforts through four years
  • Developed IMPANDEs web pages for service, administration and marketing. You may have noticed the new lay-out on our website, Facebook communication etc.
  • Engaged two new – and in all 4 A-level colleges in Oslo - where the students work towards getting friendship schools in the Ugu district. These schools are Oslo Handelsgymnasium, Blindern VGS, Hersleb VGS and Kongshavn VGS
  • Conducted fundraising concerts and other arrangementsEngaged new groups of children and young people in using IMPANDE as their philanthropic work

IMPANDE’s goals for 2017

Our local social workers have registered more than a hundred garbage shed crèches.

In 2017 IMPANDE wants to rebuild and equip 10 of them. This will give 450 children new living conditions.

The cost of building a brand new crèche is only between (£ 4 600 – 9 300) (50 000 – 100 000 NOK) depending on size. Societies, clubs, companies and individuals have been assigned their own crèche that they sponsor – either completely or partially.

Ways you can help out:

  • Sponsor a child at one of our crèches for only NOK 250 per month.
  • Give a one-off donation as a Christmas gift
  • Strengthen IMPANDE's Education Fund. Give a gift to Norwegian account number 9365 20 08141
  • Earmark funds to build a special crèche you would like to support over a longer time period
  • You are welcome to contact us via e-mail concerning how you wish to support us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Norwegian donations between NOK 500 and 25 000 qualify for tax rebates. Contact us with your personnummer.
  • Donate with VIPPS at 28 865 or give directly to Impande's Norwegian account, 1201 51 98085

Contemplations in these pre-Christmas times:

To develop a distinct and meaningful identity

We all develop an identity i.e. an understanding of who we are and how we meet other people, different issues and circumstances in the world. This is a difficult building and rebuilding work.

All the world’s problems have come unpleasantly near us also this last year. We are forced to think through these challenges both as private individuals and citizens. The author Finn Carling formulated this attitude to the world’s problems 40 years ago: «As long as the garden fence can stay put the world can go to hell.» The opposite attitude is that we here in Norway, as part of the liberal Western world, can solve, or at least have the answers to, the world’s problems.

Most of us probably struggle to develop good attitudes and actions – i.e. an identity somewhere between those two extremes.


Choice of attitudes and actions when the world’s poverty comes close

We all know that political solutions to get rid of injustice and poverty are slow to come. Such solutions are both hard to find and even more demanding to carry through. Moreover, such solutions will invariably take time. In other words, it is reckless to say that those who grow up in poverty, the state or the local business life must take care of.

To have positive attitudes to, and carry through distinct actions concerning what to do for those who live in poverty, are in other words a key to living as an integrated person in today’s world. Realities are that as well here in Norway as in the world at large, groups of children grow up under conditions where they lose out both on the ability to learn and to love before life has really started. To see all this without trying to do something, will probably make us increasingly more insensitive.

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Glimpses from South Africa today

The ghost of Apartheid is still alive

I often meet the apartheid ghost when I am in South Africa. I had a nice chat with our earlier programme leader, Nosipho, before the election this year. She is well educated and knows a lot about conditions in South Africa. I was curious and posted a lot of questions about her views on the various political parties and what they offer. One of my questions was about how people could be so loyal and vote for president Zuma and his party ANC. She knew better than me about all the accusations that have been directed towards him, and of ANCs lack of help to the poor in the country. She then retorted: “I too will vote for ANC. Otherwise apartheid will come back!” This shows that it is not just the poor and uninformed that vote for ANC, or just tribal loyalty that decides on how people vote.


Unrest at the universities

Over the past few months there has been unrest and rebellion at several universities and educational institutions in South Africa. Many of them have been closed over time out of fear for proliferation of unrest and vandalism. Many students have also been expelled. It started in March 2015 when one in a feverish attempt at saving the economy in the country proposed to increase the student fees with just over 10%. Students I have talked with say that this was not just about the fees, but about things that have been building up for years. Even though the number of black South Africans increases, the difference in educational opportunities is enormous. While 58% of the white South Africans finish higher education, only 12% of the black ones do. The unemployment rate among blacks is higher today than during the apartheid time. The student fees were in other words only «the straw to break the camel’s back». In the University of Cape Town campus area, Cecil Rhodes’ statue has stood on its pillar for decades. He was the symbol of apartheid. This statue was increasing a target for attack until someone threw excrement on it. This was a symbolic action against the riches of the whites and the big structural problems in South Africa. The statue has now been removed. This, however, does not imply that the country is without problems. If we are to believe many of the ones I have talked about, South Africa today is closer to the segregation of Rhodes, than the reconciliation of Mandela. In October the unrest around the student fees started up again. The authorities don’t quite know how to deal with this. Some call the hard core students «rabble-rousers» and wish to take a hard line to demolish the unrest. Others think that dialogue, fatigue and purging are the best plan of action. But the tendency in the protests and debates show that there is little room for compromise. In the meantime many students lose drive, motivation and ability to finish their studies in the scheduled time.

Local Unrest

The student riots are the most marked national actions to express dissatisfaction. However, things are on the point of boiling over many places in the country. In 2015 one estimated that there were on average 20-25 smaller riots daily in South Africa. Most local protests focus on dissatisfaction with local, communal services that don’t function as they were supposed to. For instance, electricity or water just disappears for shorter or longer periods. As an example: last winter many people got salt water from their water taps because the local fresh water sources had dried out.
Many of these local protests are also an illustration of how wrong things can go when a social revolt is not given a political direction, but just becomes a protest as such. It only leads to an escalating dissatisfaction, a dissatisfaction that worry a great number of people.

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Freedom of speech is still relatively good in South Africa and there are many lively debates going on. But often these expressions of opinion can tip over into vandalism – even go so far that the debaters end up killing each other.


Will Zuma Survive?

President Zuma is met with strong criticism from various sides – within the ANC party as well as outside. The most central accusations are about lack of political direction, lack of good ideas as to what political instruments are available, and accusations of corruption. Reliable sources tell that several members of his inner circle have advised him to leave office in good time before the next election. Several unions have left his government and/or asked him to do it. The opposition parties DA and EFF are naturally active critics and show what a catastrophe he is for the country.

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Does Zuma Wish To Leave?

This month Zuma has been travelling around in his home districts KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga and given political speeches every day. The content of the speeches are partly new and exciting reading. One might ask oneself whether he has learned from Trump. There is much to suggest this, and there is little to suggest that he will withdraw.

The rhetoric is two-way friend/enemy rhetoric. The enemies are many and evil. He mixes western countries, white businessmen, the media, EFF, DA and other internal enemies into a big «Bad Guys» pot. In all this he makes himself into a victim that on his shoulders carry the good and true ideas that is the salvation for South Africa. For instance: On November 19th he gave a speech in Mpumalanga where he directly said that he was in the same position as Jesus Christ on his way to be crucified. I have heard this rhetoric before from hard pressed South African politicians.

When a person defines himself within this frame of reference, there is probably little chance that he will withdraw from the assignment. In other words, Zuma will not leave, but stay on till 2019. His assignment is too holy, big and important. What negative consequences this may have for South Africa and the ANC we can only imagine.

Effective Aid

The debates about aid mostly take place among small, elitist groups within most western countries. In the meantime «common people» form many critical questions concerning this way of spending money and giving help. Aid from western countries has had a practical as well as a normative side. Many people imply that aid to poor countries now will undergo big changes after Brexit, Trumpism and the elections that will take place in many European countries next year. Moreover, it is very uncertain whether the people in Western countries are fully aware of what is going on. I will try to illustrate some aspects of this debate.

Fight Against Poverty – With Heart Or Head?

There are bigger and smaller aid organizations from OECD countries swarming all over Africa. This is a natural consequence of western abundance, cheap air tickets, the wish to help, make a difference for someone, and do something meaningful and many other noble motives. From experts on aid to the underprivileged in their ivory towers at the universities, I have heard many arrogant statements about the many small initiatives motivated by warm hearts. Here are some examples:

  • These projects won’t function over time
  • They are operated more by enthusiasts’ naive ideas about what can help than by the real needs poor people at grassroots level have
  • Merciful gifts demean people more than fight a structural injustice
  • They are incoherent and fragmented initiatives
  • They help the donors to a better conscience, but do not contribute to a positive community development in the South

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I don’t think these heart-and mercy initiatives get the attention they deserve. They both have been and still are important in the community development in Africa. Even in South Africa, that in many ways is a well developed country, they are of great value. Mandela did see this, and he thanked the schools run by missionaries for all the capable people that grew up at these schools. I also meet enthusiasts and key persons in many positions in the Ugu district. They don’t make fun of all the small initiatives. Their personal stories are unique: «I grew up with little support from home. But someone was here and supported me and cheered me along. Without them I would not have been where I am now. »

«What would I have been without the sponsors from Norway» an earlier South African ambassador in Norway said. She was the daughter of Mandela’s friend and right hand, Walter Sisulu. While Sisulu sat on Robben Island, it was faithful donors in Norway who sent money to Swaziland where she grew up. «I wish I could have met my sponsors in Norway, taken their hand and told them what this meant to me! Where are they? Who supported me? I wish I could find them because I would never have come where I am today without them. ».

These small initiatives can be criticised for much, but it is an undeniable fact that they have meant a lot! I have heard that as much as 45% of all social services south of Sahara are still run by non official organizations!

What About The Big Organizations – The Ones Who Are Staffed With Experts And Clever Brains?

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USA’s Aid budget is more than 30 billion dollars. Donald Trump will make dramatic cuts in this budget. In Great Britain the legal demand that 0.7% of the gross national income shall go to aid, loses support. Norway is no small fish in the Aid field through big Norwegian or international organizations. The UN gets support in their many operational activities. The Clinton foundation too has received a few hundred million of our tax money. We must know that this Aid engagement has had a double aim: Forward liberal values in African countries – democracy, civil communities, women’s rights, gay rights, rights of speech and respect for minorities. In this our Aid related organisations have become both suppliers of services and political instruments.

Here is some of the criticism towards this aspect of Western Aid:

  • They are big and too bureaucratic
  • Well educated people travel around the world and talk – but what comes out of their talking
  • This is a pointed finger and top-down thinking from the Western world
  • This is a too big industry that has enough with keeping itself afloat
  • The ability to deliver results has been weakened and the possibility of corruption is great
  • Much of the money disappears in measures to set the agenda and influence international forums
  • An increasingly smaller percentage of the grants go to the poor people

This criticism is to some extent not valid. The bigger organizations deliver service and make good impact from day by day, year by year. But these good stories do not get space they deserve in the Norwegian media. The media is most interested in conflict-oriented stories.

Luckily the Norwegian debate on Aid has become more self searching than before. Questions about what the monies are used for are posed more and more often – and that is good! As earlier mentioned the Aid projects grew up after World War II to fight poverty and support Western values and interests. Now a certain change in the use of the money is on the way – nothing revolutionary, but fight against poverty shall come about with fewer declarations and the money shall be used more in investment and trade. The fact that during the past 20 years, fewer people in the world live in absolute poverty is due to the development of a profitable business life. The key to success is in transfer of capital, competence and leadership resources. However, this change will not be unproblematic the day the loans are to be paid back.

Large groups in Africa are tired of the Western world’s guardianship. For some it is easier to swallow the feeling of poverty than the experience of injustice, even less condescension.

In the middle of all these tensions and contrasts I know that the common African is open for, and even embraces, support to basic needs such as crèches, schools, water, sanitation and increased competence.


Merry Christmas!

Rolf Olsen
Leader IMPANDE, GFN