Build a Future
In addition to our teaching work, Igqangi has engaged in numerous school and community development projects. Build A Future is staffed by volunteers and local builders, and is headed by Stephen Hoffe and Siyabonga Ndovela. This team has performed urgently needed maintenance on the school’s buildings, and has completed a variety of upgrades projects aimed at assisting Baleni and the community.
These have had a significant impact on our relationship with the school and surrounds as we have extended our effective reach beyond the classrooms. A selection of these projects are included below.
Ongoing School Maintenance
Igqangi works to manage and maintain the school infrastructure at Baleni SSS. Since 2013, we've made significant improvements to the school's facilities, and made progress on addressing the extensive repair backlog.
- Repainted and refurbished all classrooms, remounting and replacing chalkboards where necessary.
- Repaired the roof of the school's main buildings, replacing sheets and beams in large areas, and remounting broken gutters.
- Repaired and repainted all windows, doors and security gates.
- Repaired and upgraded the school's solar system.
- Expanded the school's wiring, and improved access to power for printers, scanners, phone chargers etc.
- Installed doors on all toilet stalls, and began use of organic waste decomposers to improve the state of the school latrines.
- Installed efficient LED lights in four additional classrooms to facilitate an expansion of our night classes.
- Installed a water-saving drip-irrigation system in the school's vegetable garden.
Until 2015, Baleni relied on rainwater collection for 100% of its water supply. The school's tanks frequently ran dry during the winter months, leaving learners thirsty and complicating the task of running the school's lunch programme. In 2014, Igqangi began working on a plan to address this urgent need, and formed a partnership with Prentec, a Johannesburg-based company specialising in water treatment systems.
They had developed a revolutionary new water-filtration system known as the Aquastation, which uses solar panels to power a scaled-down version of their innovative industrial water-treatment systems. In December 2015, Prentec generously sponsored the construction of a water tower and borehole, and installed the
first Aquastation prototype at Baleni SSS. Since then, the system has provided the school and community with a reliable supply of fresh, clean water. Halala!
Throughout 2014, Igqangi's development team, led by Steve Hoffe, worked with Baleni's governing body on the design and construction of a new building to address the school's desperate shortage of classroom space, and provide a much-needed administration area. Completed in 2015, the new building contains two large classrooms (suitable for Baleni's often huge classes), an office for the school clerk, and a dedicated printing and copying area. The building is powered by a brand new 750W solar system.
The building is also intentionally designed to create sheltered spaces for relaxing during break times and a new courtyard area for assemblies. We're currently working with the school on a new block of flushing toilets, which will use water from the Aquastation.
In 2014, we were contacted by Nkonzo Lutshaba, a former Baleni student who attended some our very first Igqangi workshops at the school in 2010. After finishing his studies, he had begun working at Vodacom. Together we drafted a proposal for a new computer centre at Baleni, which was submitted to the Vodacom Foundation. This application was approved, and shortly thereafter a team of Vodacom technicians installed a brand new 20-workstation computer-centre in the school's library, complete with a projector and screen, a full LAN network, and a 3G internet connection.
This centre is now home to Halala Academy, an innovative digital literacy programme that seeks to equip our learners with the basic computer skills they need to survive in modern work or tertiary education environments.
Baleni SSS serves a vast area, and many learners live far from the school, in areas not served by the school's bus route. Many students walk to school every day, sometimes covering impressive distances to do so. To arrive on time, some must leave home at 4am and walk for up to 17km to school, and the same distance again
to get home. Arriving home late and exhausted, even the most diligent have little time or energy for homework or studying.
In partnership with the Northcliff branch of Rotary International, The Igqangi Project developed a plan to assist these learners. In 2013-14, Rotary members donated thousands of pairs of school shoes. These tough canvas shoes (made by TOMS) have a unisex design, and their thick rubber soles are well suited to Baleni's rough gravel roads. The shoes were a huge hit with learners, and over the course of a few months we distributed almost 4000 pairs of TOMS shoes to the learners of Baleni S.S.S, Baleni J.S.S, Jama S.P.S, and Khumbuza J.S.S.
Encouraged by the success of this initial collaboration Rotary members began working on a follow-up programme to provide bicycles for Baleni's longest-commuting learners. Alongside a German branch of the Rotary Society, they successfully raised funds for a donation of 40 Qhubeka 'Buffalo bikes' to Baleni S.S.S. in May 2015. These bikes are made in South Africa, and are designed for use by rural students. The bikes are school property, and are loaned out to students on a weekly basis, so long as they maintain high levels of school attendance. Access to a bike can reduce a student's daily commute by up to 3 hours. To house the bikes, Steve and his team have designed and built a new bike shed.