Thursday, February 7, 2013

MCM staff members go back to school!

The new year has gotten off to a good start at Monte Christo Miqlat (MCM), and we are really excited about some of our major goals and initiatives for 2013.  One of those initiatives involves further education for staff members.  The management and leadership teams have made the decision to invest further into the growth of our employees by providing additional educational opportunities.  Eleven of our fellow staff members (pictured below) have chosen to take advantage of the opportunity, and will be furthering their studies at Boland College, Breytenbach Centre, UNISA and University of Stellenbosch .  

We thought you might enjoy hearing a little bit from each of these employees, so we'll share a little about their current responsibilities and provide a quote from some of them about how they feel about furthering their education.

Surita Blankenberg is the Receptionist and Administrative Clerk at Tiffany's Community Care Centre.  She will studying at Boland College and furthering her studies as a management assistant.  She says "I am very happy for this opportunity.  I never thought that I can make it this far.  I want to thank MCM for this and I know that the Lord will bless us."

Willeem Jacobs is the Day Shift Supervisor for MCM's Drakenstein Food Centre.  She, also, will be furthering her studies as a management assistant at Boland College.  She shares "I am very grateful for the opportunity I've been given to do this course.  It's only a blessing from God that I have been chosen to be a student and I am thankful towards my employees for what they have invested in me to achieve my goals in the future.  I see it as a new challenge, which I'm always ready for and will try my best doing myself and Monte Christo Miqlat proud."

Ursula Plaatjies is a Student and Coach with MCM's Sports and Recreation ministry.  Over the last couple of years, she has also blessed the ministry with her art and creativity in many ways including 1) working in the classroom with younger, aspiring artists 2) assisting an overseas visiting volunteer who created a huge sports mural that was installed at the entrance of the MCM Sports Park, and 3) preparing posters, flyers and signs as needed throughout the ministry.  She will be furthering her studies in Arts and Culture at the Breytenbach Centre.

Glenay Jacobs is an Administrative Clerk with MCM's Finance Department.  She will be furthering her studies as a management assistant at Boland College.  Glenay shares "my studies have given me a new perspective on my career and something that I look forward to in the future.  I have gained so much knowledge during this time of my studying in this line of my career.  This has developed a kind of passion and enthusiasm for me to do this in the future.  I look forward to being a successful Management Assistant and use my knowledge to do the best of my ability."

Jolanda Willemse is a waitress at the MCM Coffee Shop.  She will be studying computer practice at Boland College and says this "I look forward to this opportunity to continue studying.  It's nice to know the ministry stuck behind me and fully supports me as a student."

Johannes Klaasen is a Sports Coordinator with MCM's Sports and Recreation ministry.  He will be studying marketing at Boland College.

Mario Nel is a Finance Assistant with MCM's Finance Department.  BCom PT Accounting will be the topic of his further studies at UNISA.  Mario says "the opportunity that I have at the moment to study gives me direction in my life and provides the opportunity for a better future.  I'm working hard to reach my goals."

Morne Gerber is a Finance Assistant with MCM's Finance Department.  He, also, will be studying BCom PT Accounting at UNISA.  He shares the following about furthering his studies. "I'm living my dream, and that's why I'm very excited about my course at the moment.  It also helps me a lot in my day to day role as a financial assistant, so that's why I'm looking forward to the road ahead."

Douglas Muller is a Project Manager with MCM's Full Circle Programme.  He will be studying computer practice at Boland College and shares the following.  "I'm very excited and looking forward to have the opportunity that God created. I am very grateful to be given the chance to sharpen my skills."

Francisco Naude is the Manager of MCM's Sports and Recreation ministry.  Francisco started with MCM in it's early days, and is looking forward to furthering his education in Business Administration at Boland College.

Lonwabo Mshede is a Programme Manager at Lukhanyo Community Care Centre.  He will be working towards his BA in Social Work at University of Stellenbosch.  Lonwabo shares "I feel great!  I started 24 January with the welcome sessions at University of Stellenbosch and I've met a lot of friends.  I thank God for the people that He brought in my life who motivated me and makes things possible."
As you can see, we have some very excited staff members.  We are grateful that much of this education has been provided at no cost to the ministry or to the students.  And we hope that this additional education will further motivate and empower our staff members to continue to excel in their current and future roles in the ministry and beyond.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pioneer Foods...a wonderful partner!!

The staff at Monte Christo Miqlat (MCM) is so grateful for the amazing partnerships with which God continues to bless us.  One such partner, Pioneer of South Africa's leading food manufacturers, has been supporting various MCM efforts for 3 full years, now.  In particular, Pioneer Foods has been supplying food products and funding to MCM's Drakenstein Food Centre specifically focusing those provisions towards our SRN programme (Sports, Recreation and Nutrition) and FACED programme (Feed A Child Every Day).
On 26 September 2012, Pioneer Foods established an independent education and community trust as part of its broad-based black economic empowerment initiatives.  MCM was selected to be Pioneer's beneficiary/charity for their launch event which was held at Paarl's Lemoenkloof Guesthouse.  MCM received all the Pioneer Food branded food items on display, that day, which included Weet-Bix, ProNutro, White Star, Spekko Rice, Moir’s, Marmite, Bovril, Redro, Sasko, Nulaid and Tydstroom Chicken.  MCM was thrilled to be able to make food parcels, with these items, that were recently handed out to the staff at MCM's year end function.

Aletia Grunding...MCM CEO (on left) and Karen Petersen...MCM Marketing and Communications Manager (on right) received the Pioneer Food products from Lulu Khumalo...Pioneer's Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Executive (center)
“Focusing mainly on education initiatives, the new trust will focus on uplifting communities in the immediate surrounding areas of Pioneer Foods' subsidiaries throughout South Africa,” says AndrĂ© Hanekom, managing director of Pioneer Foods.  The aims of the trust will be to assist in the provision of school buildings or equipment for public schools and educational institutions, as well as the provision of scholarships, bursaries and study loans.  “Over the past five years, Pioneer Foods has invested more than R76 million in numerous community upliftment projects, ranging from flood relief efforts and food security to education and sports development." 

MCM would like to thank Pioneer Foods for their support and generosity.  We look forward to our ongoing partnership in order to continue to make a strategic difference in the Drakenstein Valley.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

MCM's Homeless Programme is changing lives!

In the last few months, MCM's Full Circle focus area has been involved with an exciting new pilot programme.  To get it started, MCM formed a partnership with The Haven, a Paarl-based night shelter which offers accommodations to the homeless as well as other programmes such as dealing with substance abuse.  The idea was to create an extensive, holistic programme for a select, small team of homeless individuals to see if focused efforts would result in a more permanent change to their lives.  MCM was blessed to find 4 homeless individuals at The Haven who demonstrated a sincere willingness to change their lives and Dorien Kip, MCM's Social Worker, kicked off the programme in June 2012.

Every week, the team has been covering different topics in life skills.  Each morning begins in the classroom, where they study the Bible and receive training in that week's topic.  Some of the topics that have been covered include exploring who they are, discovering how to properly take up responsibility and discussing how to take care of their bodies.  The team is doing very well, and is actually having fun in the process.  In some cases, they are able to get very creative.  In this picture, one of our participants shows how she sees her future...what she wants to reach in life.  

WOW...what a vision!!!
One of the week's life skill classes dealt with 'first impressions.' The participants actually had the opportunity to go out into the streets and interview people about what their impressions were about each one of them.  It actually turned out to be a very encouraging exercise for our participants.

The team has also gone on outreaches into the community.  Each one has had the opportunity to share the love of God while providing practical gifts such as food and sleeping bags to other individuals in need.  Everyone is able to distinguish our team members by the stylish yellow jerseys they wear!

Also, once a week the participants visit Tiffany's Community Care Centre.  There, the team receives computer training from Dorien, and they are progressing in their knowledge of Word and Excel.  They each even have their own e-mail address now!  Look out internet they come! 

Physical exercise is also part of the program. Take a look at the team during a work out in the gym at Tiffany's.  They all enjoy this activity a great deal!

All four participants work in the afternoons.   One of the participants actually oversees one of MCM's feeding programmes while another manages some of MCM's administrative work.  This is a very important part of the programme, and the participants are enjoying it a great deal.

The road to change is long and hard for the homeless.  Jacques Heyns, the Full Circle leader, shared "the people (homeless) in the programme earn just a little money and fight against addictions.  And sometimes it's difficult for them to love each other in each other's weaknesses, but they choose to go on."

We are blessed to be able to provide this ministry to the homeless and we couldn't do it without our capable staff members, Dorien Kip and Jacques Heyns.  Dorien and Jacques...we appreciate you!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bowy House turns 10!!!

Last week was full of joy as the MCM staff and many community members celebrated Bowy House' 10th birthday.  
There were activities scheduled all throughout the week of 14-19 October which appropriately started with a thanksgiving service at Cortrai Church in Suider (southern) Paarl.  The theme of Cortrai Church for the quarter is all about 'hope' which fits perfectly with the Bowy House and hope for the Bowy House children and their families. A new video was shared (available soon on YouTube) and Rev Theo Hay spoke about hope to all of us. The Bowy House kids were adorable as they sang and clapped along with our very own Uncle Edward.

When we arrived at Bowy House on Monday, we were greeted by this beautiful banner in front of the house. We had an Open Day scheduled on this day, and individuals from all across the community were invited to join in the fun. 

The birthday spirit was high, and the children enjoyed singing Happy Birthday to Bowy House, led by Aletia Grunding, MCM's CEO.

Balloons were also a big part of the decorations, and after all of the festivities and excitement was over, the guests and children stood in the gardens and released them into the air.  The children could not understand why big people would let go of the balloons! 

On Tuesday, the MCM staff had a chance to celebrate together.  Wearing their new Bowy House 10 year birthday t-shirts, the staff enjoyed a time of singing and worship and a special devotional message followed by a lovely feast and birthday cake, of course.

The remainder of the week included a Schools Project where students and teachers from two primary schools (Cortrai and W.A. Joubert) and two high schools (Paarl Girls High and La Rochelle) came to learn more about Bowy House and to share their love with the children.  We also had an opportunity to invite back some of the children (and their families) who had formerly lived in Bowy House. It was an amazing experience to meet all these former young residents and hear their parents testify about how much they experienced the dedication of the Bowy House staff. They continue to feel blessed by the wonderful care that their children received while living at Bowy House.

Former Bowy House residents

Lastly, members of MCM leadership, Bowy House staff and children organized an outreach to another children's home, Miriam House, located in Mbekweni.  Currently caring for 22 children between the ages of 0-22, Miriam was blessed by our visit, and grateful for the gifts of clothes, food, toys and cleaning products.
MCM is grateful to the many partners who helped us to organize this week's activities, and we look forward to working with you on many more Bowy House projects in the future.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Barbara Williamson attends Chef School

Barbara Williamson, one of our long-time staff members of the Monte Christo Miqlat Coffee Shop, recently had the opportunity to attend some very valuable chef training.  She departed on Sunday, 2 September in an InterCape Sleep liner bound for Namaqualand and the following is her own words describing the experience.
Barbara Williamson
From the very start of my trip, I was bursting with excitement. I couldn't believe I was going to Namaqualand. But here I was, with my bags packed and lots of mixed emotions including both nervousness and excitement. This trip was to be my first visit to this part of the world and I’d heard how beautiful it was there. Now I know for myself. You have to experience it for yourself to understand it's beauty. Springbok has its own beauty. It’s not like our "Boland beauty." It’s very different. The flower beds stretch as far as the eye can see with all kinds of different colors. These people live so close to nature and it was nice to get a taste of it.

Naries, where I did my practical, sits like an Oasis in the desert. One moment you’re driving through the emptiness, and the next moment Naries appears like an oasis. It’s almost hard to believe that this beautiful 'five-star' guesthouse sits in the middle of nowhere.  

The staff greets you with a warm hospitality that is so unique to the country-side even before you enter the front door. The people I worked with were so down-to-earth. They simply welcome you with open arms, whether they know you or not.
The food conjured up in Naries’s kitchen is a whole other story. It can easily compete with the leading restaurants in Paarl. 

What struck me the most was that the food prepared in Naries' kitchen is made with so much love and attention. Everything is not always rosy in the kitchen because sometimes it gets very busy and tensions run high.  But the staff all stand together.  There was a beautiful unity among them which really touched my heart...just like Namaqualand’s amazing beautiful flowers. 

The MCM staff is thrilled that Barbara had this opportunity and is already enjoying some of the delicious food ideas that she brought back to the Monte Christo Miqlat Coffee Shop.  Come join us there and see for yourself!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

MCM partners with University of Stellenbosch!

Over the course of the last 6 months, 5 college students from the University of Stellenbosch business school have been working with MCM (Monte Christo Miqlat).  As part of the Senior Management Development programme offered by the university, students needed to form groups to complete a BDAL (Business Driven Action Learning) project.  More specifically the project required the students to identify an NGO that was in need of improving its performance.  During the course of their research, they were to 1) analyse the organisation, 2) formulate a strategy that would enhance the organisation's performance and 3) present the organisation with an implementation plan for the newly developed strategy. 
University of Stellenbosch students with MCM team
Back Row: Chantal Hanslo, Julien & Dawid Adams (Bowy House), Khalipha Ramahlape, Latiefa Behardien
Front row: Shaun Cupido, Ravell Roberts, Aletia Grundling (MCM CEO)

One of those aforementioned groups chose MCM's Bowy House as the focal point for their assignment.  Beginning on 24 March 2012, the students immersed themselves in the project and applied the business research methodology that they had gained in the classroom to help them make informed decisions in a 'real world' scenario.  Part of their research included an environmental scan which took a look at practices both internal and external to Bowy House.  They also completed a thorough SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis which provided more insights to the group.  

University of Stellenbosch group presentation

On 6 September 2012, the students presented their findings to the MCM management team.  The presentation was quite professional and gave us some very specific suggestions that would directly improve the long term sustainability of the ministry. In fact, the management team decided to go forward with implementation of some of the key recommendations right away! The time and effort put forward was of great value to the ministry.

On behalf of the University of Stellenbosch team, one of the students said "thank you, once again, for allowing us to use Bowy House as our BDAL topic.  We really learned a lot from your organisation and hope that our dissertation will add value to the future sustainability of Bowy House."  Thys Pretorius, the student's lecturer, echoed those remarks and shared "the students completed the dissertation and presentation with great success."

MCM would like to thank the University of Stellenbosch as well as the students (Chantal, Hanslo, Khalipha Ramahlape, Latiefa Behardien, Shaun Cupido and Ravell Roberts) and lecturer, Thys Pretorius, for the time they spent with us and the value they added to help us complete our strategic plan for Bowy House.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monte Christo Miqlat (MCM) wins nutrition tender!

The staff of MCM is celebrating the recent award of a nutrition tender (contract) with the MOD (Mass Opportunity Development) Centres! 

The MOD programme was launched by the DCAS (Department of Culture and Sport) of the Western Cape Provincial Administration in 2010 to support the needs of children after school.  The programme provides every needy school in the Western Cape Province with sustainable after-school recreation activities. The programme seeks to provide children with talent identification opportunities as well as afford access to beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of coaching.  Ultimately, it hopes to improve the quality and performance levels of all school-going children in and through sport. 

Recently the DSD (Department of Social Development), in collaboration with DCAS launched the Food Parcel Project to be managed through the MOD programme.  MCM applied for the tender (contract) in 6 regions and was awarded 4 of those regions (Metro South, Kaapse Wynland, Eden and West Coast).  The tender provides for 10,500 children in 51 schools located in 27 different towns throughout the Province and DSD's aim is to ultimately link the school-going children to the relevant welfare support services.

MCM staff who manage and administer the MOD Food Parcel Project

The parcel, itself, is provided daily and consists of a piece of fruit as well as one sandwich for primary school age children and two sandwiches for secondary school age children.  The food parcel is prepared (sandwiches made and fruit washed), packaged, packed and delivered by MCM's Food Centre. 

Food Parcels ready to be distributed

Learners participating in MOD programme
The provincial government reports that the MOD programme has recorded impressive achievements since its inception in 2010. It has provided mass participation opportunities for disadvantaged communities, resulting in skills development and talent identification for learners as well as valuable and needed training for coaches and coordinators.  The programme has gone a long way towards revitalising school sport.  The provincial government also reported that the feeding programme was successfully initiated at a total of 64 Focus Centres across the province. All learners participating at the centres receive a food parcel, and attendance has increased notably since the introduction of this 'much needed' programme.

MCM is thrilled to be in the middle of this new programme, and is looking forward to continuing to build good and healthy relationships with the students and the schools.  We wish to thank our staff members Edo Malan, Morne Gerber, Mario Nell, Glenay Jacobs and Denise Ontong (pictured from left to right in the first picture) for the outstanding job they are doing managing this new project!