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 Foods...one 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 world...here 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 vision...love 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!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A LONG winter...Cape Basic Foods feeds the hungry!

As spring is upon us, here, we reflect back to our long, cold winter and we are grateful to have been instruments to feed so many hungry children.  As Aletia Grundling, MCM's CEO shared "our vision was shown so practically during the June/July holiday, by feeding over 27,000 children."

Hungry children lined up with their food containers in hand
One of our MCM Food Center partners during this winter holiday was Cape Basic Foods, and we are grateful to this organization for supporting our FACED program during the school holidays.  FACED stands for Feed A Child Every Day, a program that we launched 2 years ago (during the 'Soccer World Cup' school holidays) and has proved to be successful at helping to feed thousands of children who would normally receive a government sponsored meal during their regular school day (see our blog posting from 6 July 2011 for more information about the FACED program).  We are also grateful to Iona, a staff member of Cape Basic Foods who daily dished out food to these very hungry children in an area called Klapmuts just outside of Paarl.  Iona shared the following thoughts:  "on 10 July 2012 a preacher visited our company at 8:00 in the morning to deliver a message about faith in God.  At 11:30, on a sunny winter day, we left the office to hand out the food...in the various squatter camps (informal settlements).  There were only 3 buckets and needless to say there were too many mouths and not enough food.

Children and mothers posing with soup buckets in the background
The people are so very, very hungry...especially with all the rain and cold that we have had this winter.  At the last camp, I said to the young lady helping me that I'm first going to pray over the last of the food.  There was no way that we could give all the people food from what was left.  I just thanked Jesus for multiplying the food and supplying what was needed.  When the last person came to receive her portion, it was the last portion in the bucket.  Praise Jesus!  This was so wonderful, especially for the young lady with me as she has not seen anything like this before.  God is good all the time and all the time God is good!"

Smiling faces with tummies ready to be filled

More hungry tummies
Aletia reflected upon this huge effort and shared with the MCM staff "looking at the impact that we made during the holidays, and how many children were served, I want to remind you to be alert so that we all can identify other areas where we can care for those in need.  God wants to use us to serve the poorest of the poor...this is our vision."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Monte Christo Miqlat (MCM)'s home office makes a move!

On 3 September Monte Christo Miqlat (MCM)'s head office moved to the MCM Coffee Shop which is located on Pastorie Avenue 19 in Central Paarl.  The MCM leadership and staff are very excited about this move, because it will place the head office in a much more centralized location in Paarl and help the organization to more easily accomplish one of its goals...to be the heart and face of the ministry in Paarl.  
Owners of Supa Sign-Paarl (who we thank for the wonderful discounts on all of our building signage) taking down the 'home office' sign at the old location
One of the primary objectives of MCM as a charity is to mobilize the community on all fronts to help those in need. To do this, MCM partners with churches; governmental agencies; NGO’s and service organizations in an effort to build strategic solutions to solve the major problems resulting from poverty.  Aletia Grundling, the CEO of MCM said that “our community has all the resources available to help create a ‘care umbrella’ for children and families dealing with poverty.  As a Christian organization, we fully understand our mandate to reach out and use all that we have to make a difference.”  MCM continues to run programs in Paarl East, Mbekweni and Wellington.  The programs are meant to address the problems of HIV/Aids, poor nutrition, homelessness and joblessness, as well as a lack of sports and recreation activities and facilities, programs for youth and children, and training, education and leadership development.  

New home of MCM's head office

The leadership team that moved to this new location include Aletia Grundling-CEO, Karen Petersen-Marketing & Communications, Tertius Spies-Grants & Funding, and Shanon Jefthas-IT and Administration.  The MCM team is looking forward to hosting an 'open house' reception later in the year and hope to welcome many community members into their new home.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

MCM got uniform!

It is exciting times here at Monte Christo Miqlat (MCM)!!!  Our staff just took delivery of our long-awaited uniforms which allow us to proudly display our ministry name!  Pictured here are Aletia Grundling-MCM's CEO and Francisco Naude-MCM Director of Sports and Recreation proudly receiving delivery of our new clothing from Lynette Cronje, our clothing consultant who helped us with clothing selection and design.
Aletia shares that she feels that the clothing contributes towards the feeling that our staff is important to us.  Aletia says that "We want them to feel proud of the MCM family...a family that now looks much more professional to the eyes of the community."  She also shared that "because we are building the Kingdom, we strive for excellence."
Sharon, one of our Bowy House staff members above, said  “I feel that I am part of the family.” “The bibs are beautiful and professional.”
Johannes, our Director of Coaching 1000 (pictured above with his team), feels that the sports coaches now portray a positive image for MCM into the schools in which the coaches teach.  Johannes says that the uniforms are "very professional and the material of the summer track suits and golf shirts is very cool."
And our Food Center staff members have lots of enthusiasm for the chef jackets that they each received.  Petro shared that she "feels very professional and neat at work."  Grace expressed that she "thinks our new chef uniforms are great!  I feel honored to work in the kitchen to do my work."  And Kelvin expresses "in my chef coat, I feel like a professional baker."

As you can see, we're all pretty excited about our new look!  We all want to thank Lynette Cronje, Creative Director of KLC Services (www.klcs.co.za) for helping us all to look more professional and polished as we advance the Kingdom here in Paarl!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grateful for our partner: Frost and Sullivan!

It was a beautiful winter's day in Capetown on August 22nd, where over 200 visionaries, innovators and leaders gathered at Frost & Sullivan's Global Community of Growth, Innovation and Leadership Conference.  Held at the Table Bay Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, the objective of the conference was to provide senior executives with the winning tools and strategies that they could then take back and deploy in their own companies to accelerate growth and inspire innovation.

A 3-year partner of Monte Christo Miqlat (MCM) and our ministry efforts at Bowy House, Frost & Sullivan: Africa, was the host of this year's conference.  As host, they invited MCM CEO, Aletia Grundling, to speak to the group about Growth, Innovation and Leadership from a charity point of view.  Many of the attendees were moved by the MCM story and were eager to learn more about the various ministries.

We were also given the opportunity to discuss MCM and Bowy House with many of the attendees when they visited us at the booth that we displayed throughout the conference activities.

The day after the conference, Frost & Sullivan staff spent the morning with the Bowy House children and gave a lot of attention to our little ones.  Several of our children came away with beautifully painted faces and they thoroughly enjoyed the balloon games and other activities provided.

Frost & Sullivan is an outstanding partner in so many ways.  In addition to their generous financial giving, which amounts to an annual percentage of their profits, the office staff is encouraged to donate children's toys and clothes throughout the year.  And the children and staff always look forward to the amazing Christmas party that they provide during the holidays.  

If you want to learn more about Frost & Sullivan, we encourage you to go to their website at www.frost.com.

Staff of Frost and Sullivan...WE APPRECIATE YOU!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The kids are on the move at Bowy House!

Things continue to be busy at Monte Christo Miqlat's (MCM's) ministry at Bowy House.  On September 20th, 2011 last year we shared a blog posting about our new Occupation Therapist, Eleen van der Merwe, and the progress she was making with our children at Bowy House.  Well the progress continues!!!  At the time of that posting, two of our non-walkers were actually beginning to move better, and showing signs of crawling.  Since then they have not only mastered crawling, they are beginning to walk!  Those two children are pictured below, this first one in a standing frame with which she 'practices walking' for up to 30 minutes at a time.  Her feet and ankles can also be pushed into 90 degrees in the frame which allows her to participate in other group activities in which the Bowy House kids are involved.
This second child has also made fantastic 'walking' progress and is practicing his walking in between rows of the children's chairs.  Many of us feel that this is nothing short of a miracle, as he was so stiff and unable to perform the simplest of moves when he was a baby. 
In these next two pictures, Eleen divided our children up into two different groups.  This allows her to provide activities that are more age specific.  The younger children practiced their artistic skills in the creche, finger painting and mixing colors in their pictures.
And our older children participated in a new garden project that is underway at Bowy House.  This older group is very eager to participate in the garden, especially when it comes to working with the dirt.  Kids will be kids!!!
We continue to be blessed with volunteers who come and spend time with our children.  Michael and Pamela Hudson are two of those volunteers.  Two years ago, they actually lived on the Bowy House property for several months, offering their assistance during a very important time in our Bowy House history.  They continue to visit on a regular basis, offering their assistance and love where needed.

We still have visits from some of our Bowy House alumni who have been placed in a home environment.  We LOVE to see their smiling faces return for a visit!

But when these children move on, it makes room for other needy children.  Pictured below are some of our newer children who have come to Bowy House in the last few months.  They all have various medical needs, and we are honored to care for them ...however long that turns out to be. 
We are all blessed to be a part of these children's lives, and helping them to become all that God wants them to be. 

We are grateful to all of you...our Bowy House partners, supporters and volunteers!!!  We hope you all will join us to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the opening of Bowy House (October 14th-19th, 2012)!  We have a number of fun activities planned that week and we would LOVE to share these sweet smiles with you!