Masithandane is well-known in Sedgefield Village for its Mosaic Job Creation Project which is successfully beautifying our quaint “slow” town in a befitting and appropriate manner. It is however, merely the tip of the iceberg of what this PBO (Public Benefit Organisation) contributes to Sedgefield's poorer communities in its vicinity.
Operating on the ground floor of the premises of Grace Fellowship a ministry initiated by Otto and Celia Kossar, Masithandane was their dream "to do something beautiful for God".
As a registered non-profit and public benefit organisation physically situated on the divide of Smutsville and Sedgefield, Masithandane's position drives home clearly the separation between the “haves” and the “have nots” of our society.
Daily this reminder drives a compassionate team of dedicated workers to provide desperately needed services to the unskilled, unemployed, sick, elderly, vulnerable and least empowered members of our community.
Reaching beyond Smutsville and Sizamile that are immediately adjacent to Sedgefield, support is also given to Fairview, Karatara, Elandskraal, Barrington and Farleigh.
Perhaps lesser known are the beautiful Paper mache Makhulu bookmarks that 8 women now make regularly which have found outlets in Sedgefield, Knysna, Joburg and Cape Town.
Yum Yum Hot boxes are eco-friendly cooking boxes. Once the food, be it stew or soup has been thoroughly heated it can be placed in the polystyrene cushion box, covered with a lid of the same and left to simmer for the rest of the day. A meal will be cooked without electricity or gas and be ready to eat when the weary trundle in from work.
This natty kitchen helper is great for using when camping or caravanning or when one simply wants to go out for the day and come back to a hot meal.
No need to worry about the food being overcooked, the pot burning on the bottom or the cost of electricity. The hot box comes with a useful recipe book that gives one a good idea of its versatility.
The Indawo Yo Mama Toddler Program is funded by the National Lottery Development Trust Fund and Celia Kossar runs these workshops privately on the top storey of Grace Fellowship. A group of 6 women have been recruited and undergone training on how to run to mother and child playgroups.
This project will create a weekly support group for mothers to come together to share ideas, burdens and information and at the same time participate in activities that will nurture and develop their children’s skills and abilities.
Through its Early Child Development Program, Masithandane provides a Day Care Center for children between ages 3-4 and a Pre-School Creche for children between ages 4-6. These two places have Carers, a teacher and are supplied with educational games and toys. The children also receive meals at the centers.
Besides this, there’s a literacy program for children at Smutsville Primary School where a number of volunteers give of their time every week so children get given individual time to develop their reading skills.
A comprehensive Youth Program encourages and supports teenagers struggling to cope with the trials and tribulations of living in homes where lack of education, unemployment, and often alcohol and drug abuse are rife.
The program covers life skills, skills training, a part time computer course and and a number of bursaries for high school pupils. Because Sedgefield has no high school Masithandane assists as far as possible with bursaries and daily, weekly or monthly transport costs for children to get to George or Knysna without having to undertake the risky procedure of hitch-hiking. They also assist with school fees, uniforms and toiletries.
This is being supplemented with access to the local Outward Bound School where diverse activities will take them from their restricted environment, on a journey of self-discovery.
They will learn how to share with each other and communicate, work as a team to overcome obstacles, persevere to achieve positive outcomes in spite of fears and difficulties, treat others respectfully and to develop leadership qualities.
Overcoming such challenges will nurture self-belief and give these youngsters a chance to outgrow their domestic disadvantages.
The Forget-me-not Club for pensioners meets every Friday, where besides providing the elderly with a delicious tea, useful talks are given on topics such as how to apply for government pension grants, ID documents, funeral plans, opening bank accounts and home security.
Interaction gives the recipients opportunities to discuss their
needs or bring to the attention of Carers, other people who urgently
need care or help in some way. A social development grant now allows PBO to employ a Community Development Officer to profile people
There is also a fun side to the day with community singing, lucky draws and games like Bingo being enjoyed.
Whilst I was taking pictures at one of their meetings I was delighted to witness the enthusiastic response of the elderly audience to the speaker's comments. It seemed that everyone was keenly interested in his subject and I got the impression that it was a topic relevant to their situation. I left with a good feeling, happy that these folks were learning something of value to them and obviously thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process.
The response to these meetings has been so good that alternate weeks of attendance have been agreed so that the providers can cope with the numbers. One week 35 pensioners attend from Smutsville and Sizamile and the next week 35 from Fairview.
Meals, soup and sandwiches are provided 3, 5, or 7 times a week by kitchens at the Methodist Church, Knynsa and Knysna Child Welfare, Badisa at Loriehof, Masithandane itself, and from homes in the community and at Karatara and Fairview which are administered from Masithandane who cost and supply the ingredients.
Slow Town Mobile Meals supplies ready cooked meals 3 times a week to Masithandane who then delivers them to people who are disabled, ill or have no income. Essential food parcels are also delivered to needy homes weekly.
Quite a few cats and dogs have discovered they can get a regular meal at the doors of Masithandane. It touched me to see that even animals are treated kindly and not chased away.
A vital function of the PBO is health education involving disease prevention, first aid, home hygiene and nutritional guidance. They provide the avenue whereby Aids and HIV-positive sufferers can receive their anti-retrovirals. The medicine is collected from the clinic so the recipients can obtain them from a place close at hand.
Infectious TB is effectively treated through the DOTS course, which includes surveillance, and regular monitoring of the medication to ensure the full and correct dosages are timeously taken.
Masithandane trains home based care-givers in all matters relating to home care including how to bath, change dressings, take blood pressure, do diabetic testing, weight checks, cook meals and provide compassionate support for bed-ridden, ill and elderly people.
A plot was bought in Kalossie Street with funds from a private donor literally across the road from Grace Fellowship premises. With help from Global Funding, building plans were submitted to Knysna Municipality and a re-zoning application for a 6-bed Care and Respite Centre.
An undertaking was given to provide funding for the building
if Masithandane could guarantee the funds for the operating costs. A microwave, stove, and washing machine have been donated. and two proper cot-beds were bought from Global Funds. Once the nitty gritty details were sorted out, it didn't take long to build the "House under Grace." Locals willingly contributed to beautify the centre and provide the necessities. HUG offers to ease the passage of terminally ill
patients through the last weeks of their life and/or give family respite
from caring for a week or two.
Offering cost-effective and compassionate care, the centre has been operational since 12 May 2017 and was timeously able to assist with providing beds for elderly folk who had to be evacuated from Knysna during the devastating wildfires that occurred in June 2017. There are now between 2-5 in-patients staying there at any given time.
HUG'S competent care-givers provide care for the following:
Masithandane has found many partners that assist them in their outreach to the needy in the community and their generous contributions add considerably to the impact they are able to make in the lives of a great many people.
Biblionef – is a Dutch organization that has donated over 200 books to the literacy project.
Knysna Rotary Club contributed to the upgrading of facilities at Grace Fellowship Masithandane’s base.
NLDTF annual grant – has enabled Mother and Child Workshops
Woolworths regularly donate food
Various Local Churches – St Francis United Church, NGK , Agape Ministries, Sedgefield Christian Familie , Anglican Church. – make monetary donations and contribute blankets, clothes and food.
Sedgefield Clinic, Knysna Hospital , Knysna/Sedgefield Hospice,| Child Welfare Knysna , Department Social Development , Western Cape Education Department, Eden District Municipality – Department of Environmental Health, Department of Health , TB/HIV Services, SA Police – grants and related assistance like training, information, brochures, etc.
Knysna Municipality, South Cape College, Life Line Garden Route, Profetiese Geloofsending Internasionaal, Smutsville Primere Skool and Sedgefield Primary School - training and assistance.
Masithandane appears to be a successful umbrella for much of the local community work taking place. They effectively co-ordinate multiple projects run by different NGO'S and other organisations preventing the duplication of haphazard endeavours.
This enables services to be dovetailed to reach the whole spectrum of the local disadvantaged population from toddlers to the elderly, making all assistance provided relevant and beneficial.
Proudly unveiled on the Island just in time for Christmas 2010 was Citta our Slow Town tortoise. The beautiful mosaic was done by the Masithandane crafters.
Saturday 23 September 2011 was Masithandane's 5th birthday. It was celebrated joyously with singing and dancing with many Masithandane supporters and invited guests joining in.
All the children of the different creches put on a show for the guests and the Forget-me-nots that delighted one and all as they sang and played and acted their parts with spontaneous enthusiasm.
Afterwards there was delicious eats for everyone and the Ladies of the Dutch Reformed Church made copious pancakes for all that wanted.
The children played tirelessly on the jumping castles and there were plenty of beautiful Masthandane products for sale.
The weather played along and delivered a perfect summer's day and the great success of the occasion made all the hard work organisers put into it, worthwhile!
To celebrate South Africa's Art and Culture on Heritage Day 2011, the Masithandane crafters with their young artistic counterparts unveiled a wonderful mosaic interpretation of the Tree of Life outside our local Sedgefield Library in Flamingo Street.
Many locals attended the unveiling and several children were given the opportunity to say how much they enjoyed contributing to the mosaic creation.
Its' beauty will grace our town and inspire us for years to come!
Masithandane is now a 17 year old registered non-profit and public benefit organisation located in Sedgefield. They build partnerships and work collaboratively with the public and private sector and local organisations in order to serve those living in Smutsville, Sizamile, Fairview, Karatara, Elandskraal, Barrington and Farleigh who are infected/affected by:HIV/AIDS and TB as well as widows, orphans and the destitute.