Our Volunteers: Fran Hewitt volunteering in South Africa

This placement has finished. Please either look at Fran’s new placement in Tanzania or follow Thuy Nguyen’s updates as she builds upon Fran’s contributions in South Africa.

Holy Family Care Centre

Playground equipment at Holy Family's creche
Situated at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains in Ofcolaco, Limpopo Province, South Africa, Holy Family Care Centre is responding to the needs of the sick and vulnerable, especially orphaned children with HIV and AIDS. Each person who comes to Holy Family Centre is helped to find peace of mind in beautiful surroundings and is treated with reverence and respect.

Run by the OLSH sisters since 2002, the centre has filled an important role in the local community, both supporting vulnerable children so that they may participate in community life, including receiving education at the local school and proper health care, and contributing to better understanding of health issues.

Several local staff assist the program and it is hoped that with training they will be empowered to take greater leadership roles in the coming years.  To this end, a request was placed with Palms Australia for a volunteer teacher to assist develop skills of staff in Holy Family’s creche.

Fran Hewitt

Palms Australia recruited Fran Hewitt, a teacher from Hobart, to work with the people of Ofcolaco.

Fran brings years of experience as a teacher, with experience in direct teaching and coaching, program development and coordinating regional programs. She has also provided training to teachers and aides in working with children with special needs.

Fran has experience with home care programs, providing support for people with disabilities and the aged.

Holy Family and Palms Australia believe Fran is well suited to the task of improving the services provided to orphaned and vulnerable children in Ofcolaco.

Fran’s placement costs are partially covered, but Palms Australia needs your support to cover the remainder of the costs. Please use the donation link on the right hand side of this web-page to contribute.

Exercising Freedom

November 28, 2013

Walking is the most common form of exercise. Pictured here is the “road” from Fran’s house to her workplace, Edmund Rice Sinon School.
So much has been happening here in Engosengiu and life has been so interesting; but once again I can only relate some of the experiences to give you a glimpse of what living here is like.

My teaching friends at school, Pascal, Nestory and Paul are also responsible for the fitness program at school for all the boarders and hostellers, which consists of a run around the village 3 times a week (Tues, Thurs, and Sat afternoons). Here girls and boys cannot exercise together so no one goes running with the girls, so this term I started running with them. But they are bored with just running, so I did a PowerPoint presentation on health and exercise for the girls and the teachers, (welcomed and appreciated by the Pascal, Nestory & Paul) showing them that fitness can be much more varied, interesting and fun. We (boys and girls) now do fitness circuits, and exercises to music as well as running. I also prepared a submission for the headmaster (he’s keen on sport & exercise) requesting the maintenance dept. to make some equipment for us – chin up bars, ladders and weaving poles, etc – which can also be used for the senior sports teams training sessions. They will be finished next week. The guys and I will help to paint them, then use them in our program. I have also found sporting equipment in numerous locations around the school, and put them all together in the sports store and done an inventory. That means we have balls, skipping ropes and other gear to use in our fitness program.

One Thursday we did an exercise class to music then I taught the girls (about 100 of them) the chicken dance as a fun way to finish up. There was a big spectator group watching – the headmaster, teachers, the boys, the cleaners and cooks, the boarding matrons, etc, as they’d never seen something like that before(!) and everyone (the girls participating and the crowd) laughed, wriggled and really enjoyed it. When I go on a run with the girls though the village, people stop and wave or call out – everyone seems to be happy I’m being involved and of course that makes my life here way more interesting, fun and inclusive.

Sport and exercise isn’t seen to be necessary or proper for girls/women in many African cultures. But Pascal and Nestory can see the benefits of me role-modelling for the girls, and so one afternoon I even played on the staff football (soccer) team against the Form 5 students (only for a very short time), much to all the Form 1-6 students and the village spectators amusement! But we are showing the girls it’s ok and fun for females to participate and have a go. My involvement in the exercise and sporting program has actually earned me additional popularity and respect amongst many of the males in the village, which is interesting.

Fran Hewitt, a physical education teacher from Tasmania, is currently on her second volunteer placement with Palms Australia, this time in Tanzania.

From Limpopo to Arusha

May 14, 2013

Fran Hewitt recently finished her first Palms’ placement in South Africa. She is now volunteering at Edmund Rice School in Engosengiu, Arusha, Tanzania.

Click here to read the full article

News in brief

November 15, 2012

Three brief updates from Fran Hewitt in South Africa, John Gartner in Papua New Guinea and Kernah Foster in Kiribati.

Click here to read the full article

More articles

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South Africa

Population: 51,605,347

Area: 1,219,090 sq. km.

Median Age: 24.7

Literacy: 86.4 %

Languages: IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, English, Setswana, Sesotho, Xitsonga, IsiNdebele, Tshivenda, siSwati

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa has achieved remarkable political and social transformation, and is one of the few African countries to have peaceful and non-violent political transition in recent times. South Africa has a strong human rights-based constitution and development mandate which explicitly takes into account the United Nations Millennium Development […]

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