Eshowe is a small regional town, primarily agricultural, in the state of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, about 100 miles (150km) north of Durban. The population is predominantly Zulu. Eshowe has a rich history as a former British administrative center. It's famous for a natural area called the Eshowe Forest.
In 1977 the Rotary Club of Eshowe assisted in the formation of the Eshowe Christian Action Group (now the Eshowe Community Action Group or, as it is known world-wide, the ECAG). The desperate need for a Secondary School in the growing township of Gezinsila (now King Dinizulu Suburb), near Eshowe, had come to the attention of the local Rotarians.
Umphezeni Seconday School under a tree 2009
They invented a clever arrangement. A local community would raise a 10% deposit (these days about $1,100, a large sum in rural South Africa), then ECAG would find an organization or individual to provide the other 90% (now about $10,000). They found engineers to develop a simple standard classroom design, easily duplicated, so that every school would be easy to build and safe for the students.
The arrangement has worked. The local community's investment means the people respect and care for their school. The standard plan ensures that common materials and readily-available skills are used in construction of each school.
Umphezeni School construction 2010 THANKS TO YOU!
The day-to-day running of the program is done through the offices of Makhoba Volbrecht & Associates. Their work is overseen by a management committee consisting of Rotarians, headmasters, Department of Education and Culture officials and other Provincial Government officials.
Emmanuel, engineer for ECAG school building projects, at Emasundwini School.
The organization has, to date, achieved the building of nearly 4,000 classrooms and laboratories at 800 locations.
The program presently has deposits for over 150 classrooms from communities waiting for assistance. This is their only hope and, due to lack of funds, some communities have been waiting for 7 years. Many of these schools are in remote areas, and this makes assistance from the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Education and Culture very difficult and unlikely.
This "self help" project has, and continues, to provide basic education for thousands of Zulu children who live on the margins of society by providing adequate facilities which are more conducive to learning than what they have had in the past.
The learners are between 5 - 21 years old. Thousands of these children do not go to school, not through any fault of their own, but rather due to a lack of educational facilities. In rural South Africa, there are no libraries, movie theatres, or other places where children can learn about the world outside their community.
Africa Classroom Connection was founded in 2006 to provide Americans a way to contribute to these projects with the assurance that their support will be carefully monitored and tax-deductible. Since our founding we’ve helped over 18,500 kids by building over 100 classrooms. Click here for a list of all of the classrooms that we’ve built.
What can you do to help these children learn? Volunteer your time and skills, tell your friends about ACC, sponsor or make a presentation at your service club or church. Contribute financially by making a contribution or sponsoring a classroom. Learn about the children who, like your own, have dreams.
Here are some video links from YouTube of our November 2007 group trip to South Africa:
- Let It Shine in Zululand
- Ingoma boys dance at a South African school in Zululand
- Boys dance
- Xavier embarrasses a girl in Zululand