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!