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17th May 2019 • News

SOS Africa Diaries

London

As part of our 30th anniversary celebrations we gave ourselves a target of raising £30,000 for charity SOS Africa, with the hopes of being able to build an education centre to support underprivileged children.

Thanks to our teams fundraising efforts and the kind support of everyone’s donations we beat our target!

Join us on our journey as our imagined dream comes to life…

Entry 17. Raising The Bar

We have just set ourselves a new charity target!

In 2018, we joined forces with small family run charity SOS Africa, and pledged to raise £30,000, to build an Education Centre for underprivileged children in South Africa.

Our devoted team embraced the challenge with zelus enthusiasm, and after completing half marathons, ski dives and much baking, we exceeded our target.

It is now our ambition to raise the bar.

Along with your help, we hope to sponsor five children through our Education Centre, joining the School in January 2020.

We chose, St Michaels, situated on Ouderbrug Farm, Grabouw to build our Education Centre, originally a church school which provided, basic education for farm workers children. The poverty in Grabouw is multidimensional.  High unemployment rates, limited access to housing and sanitation as well as basic education are coupled with alarming rates of HIV/AIDS, but we were drawn to the progressive attitude of the Principle Mr Rehard Smith.

However, there are challenges.  Children of seasonal workers often only attend school during the ‘fruit season’ there is poor parental involvement and most of the parents cannot afford the basic uniform for the children. Alcohol and drug abuse is rife among parents and children are in need of counselling and life skills to support these challenging backgrounds.  At school, classes are big with teachers feeling overstretched, language is a growing problem and there are large drop-out rates.

Please help us sponsor five children through our Education Centre. As little as £600 a year per child, will provide for all, schooling, books, uniform as well as extracurricular activities.

Together we can help empower the lives of these children.

Click here to donate! 

Entry 16. The Schools Tour Continued

Our Schools tour continued with a visit to the staff and children in the Somerset West Methodist school.

Upon meeting the children things got very competitive between the children and our team as everyone showed off their skills, including the splits and arm wrestling.

We also left a little Porta Romana gift behind in the form of one of our workshop aprons.

Entry 15. Visiting St Michaels School

The Porta Romana team today visited St Michaels School, situated on Ouderbrug Farm, Grabouw, the school run by Principle Mr Rehard Smith originated as a church school to provide basic education for the farm workers children.

We were fortunate enough to sit in on one of the children’s assemblies where the children showcased their incredible talents!

Entry 14. A Very Warm Welcome Indeed

Today our team were treated to a very warm welcome from the Grabouw children who attend the Education Centre built by SOS Africa in 2013.

We also got to see first hand the great teaching that is provided by the SOS Africa staff.

We were so grateful for this experience which has given us a great insight into what an incredible Education Centre ours will be once complete.

With this in mind, our team got back to decorating the Porta Romana Education Centre.

Entry 13. The Porta Romana Team Have Arrived On Site

The Porta Romana team have arrived on site where they received a warm welcome from the SOS Africa staff and children.

The team working hard on helping paint the Porta Romana Education Centre.

Entry 12. The Porta Romana Team Have Arrived In South Africa

Some of the Porta Romana team left the U.K this week and flew to South Africa to assist with the build.

The Porta Romana team refuelling in Cape Town before the hard work starts on site tomorrow!

Entry 11. Time To Paint 

Ever the perfectionists, Carpenter Jorrie and his team have completed the fittings in the East Wing.

The West Wing windows, insulation and internal wall cladding are now fitted!

Now it’s time for a full-on family painting effort by SOS Africa founder Matt Crowcombe and Claudia Titley (even if the third member of the family is asleep)…

Entry 10: Box Window Installation

Carpenters have begun work on one of the most exciting features to the Porta Romana Education Centre design… the box windows which overlook the beautiful Elgin Valley.

Work on the outside Learning Space decking has begun!

Entry 9: West Wing Build

The West Wings walls are now installed and the Porta Romana Education Centre is really starting to take shape.

The building crew are now preparing to install the renaming roof, windows and doors.

The electrician has also started work on wiring.

Entry 8: Work continues

After the rain delayed work on the site, the building team jumped straight back in. By the end of day seven the roof to the East Wing was installed and the walls to the West Wing have been erected.

Entry 7: Erecting the walls

The Education Centre is now taking shape and the builders have begun erecting the West Wing walls and a roof has been installed on East Wing!

Entry 6: Building work 

The rains arrived today however, this did not deter the team who have worked ever so hard braving the elements to prepare for the roof installation to the East Wing as well as completing the construction of the the timber platform. Fantastic effort!

Entry 5: Constructing the flooring / children’s site visit 

To help with the site build some extra special helpers were brought in…

Some of the SOS Africa children who will benefit from the Porta Romana Education Centre joined the building crew on site to give a helping hand, smiles all round!

Entry 4: Building materials have arrived!

The build materials have arrived and the work has begun on laying the foundations of the site.

Entry 3: Building timber framework and site preparation

After a busy few days the timber preparation are now ready for transport to the build site where construction work will begin!

The site has also now been mapped out ready for the build.

Entry 2: Build preparation

Construction work on our Education Centre has begun.

The framework and outer cladding will be treated, prepared and fitted ready for assembly on site.

Location: Sawmill – Melkbos Sawmill in Western Cape

Entry 1: Artists sketches

Artist impression and concept plans for the Porta Romana Education Centre.

The “Porta Romana Education Centre” design takes the form of two “L” shaped buildings facing inward to create a central courtyard. Embracing education both inside and outside the classroom, we wanted the boundary between the two to be seamless. Our children thrive as much from learning to grow carrots, or mastering yoga as they do from conquering complex mathematical equations.

Within each building is a formal classroom space and an activity space for play or physical learning. Each South facing facade is a beautiful box window seat opening up to a vista of the Elgin valley. One of these windows will be in the library with the aim to inspire our children to sit there and read stories that take them on journeys around world, imagining far off and wonderful places at the same time as glancing up to appreciate the beauty of their own “back garden”. Together with local architect Byron Russell, Claudia has taken great care to consider the environment both within design layout, material choice and fabrication.

The building is completely made from sustainable locally sourced and milled timber, erected in panels and then assembled on site by master craftsmen. Our classroom should not only stand the test of time but also “touch the earth lightly” as a physical entity and in its impact upon its environment.

We intend on using the building itself as a teaching tool to demonstrate sustainable design and building methods to the children. People spend the majority of their time in the built environment with little to no understanding of how it comes together. Byron and Claudia intend to change this for our children; who knows, they may inspire some future builders or architects. Without a doubt this building is set to be a great asset to our children, our organisation and the surrounding community.

St Michaels Primary School Background

St Michaels is situated on Ouderbrug Farm, Grabouw. It originated as a church school to provide basic education for the farm worker’s children. St Michael’s was established as a government school in the 1980’s and opened its doors to the wider community of Pineview, Grabouw in 2010. The school currently offers schooling from Grade R (pre-school) to Grade 6.

Although it has many strengths including a progressive Principal and a safe campus, St Michael’s School faces many challenges. In many instances, parents of children attending the school are fruit pickers reliant upon seasonal work which impacts on school attendance, parental responsibility and financial stability. Many of the children also require counselling and life skills support due to challenging backgrounds and social issues. The school itself also struggles with limited funding, large class sizes and a high drop-out rate in Grade 4. The school is also in desperate need of a Learning Support Centre. The construction of a multi-functional education centre will have an invaluable impact upon the lives of the staff and children of St Michael’s Primary School.

Above copy by SOS Africa
Click here to read their blog.