Dancing beads- some history

Yesterday we sat around the table in the GAPA centre chatting and singing with the grandmothers as they made beaded necklaces and knitted teddy bears. The grandmothers gather everyday to do beading and learn new designs from Florence (Income-generation coordinator).

Mrs Bokwe began telling her story of the beautiful necklace she had carefully wrapped in her bag. I thought is was so special and asked permission to publish it on the blog.

Mrs Evelyn Bokwe had in her hand her necklace that she describes is almost 40years old. She made it when she was in her early twenties when living in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. Her mother taught her how to make the design. She says the beads are no longer available in today’s bead stores and she regards it as a very special heirloom. The necklace is made in a traditional Xhosa design with colours that indicate the Xhosa tribe. She used to wear the necklace on special occasions, like dances on the weekend, together with beads on her head and a beaded belt. Mrs Bokwe says is was very important to look pretty at these events, its also where one could find a husband (she giggled).

Mrs Bokwe says sadly her daughter doesn’t need the necklace but she is making similar necklaces for her granddaughters.

Now that she is a grandmother she also has a beaded pipe, which she doesn’t smoke, but has to show her status.

This is a new necklace she has made to be sold for R200 in the GAPA craft store. Each grandmother keeps 90% of the sale and 10% goes towards running the store.
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Celebrating spring

This month spring (“ntwasahlobo”- meaning before summer in isiXhosa) was celebrated in the aftercare with the children. To my suprise it had not been celebrated at the school, which I celebrated as a South African school child by wearing ‘civvies’, no school uniform on 1 September.

In South Africa there is not such a clear distinction between the seasons. For example we are still feeling cold and trying to cope with heavy winter rains.

Arbor week

We participated in caring for and learning about our natural environment by planting an indiginous tree for arbor day.

We spent some time with each age group learning about trees.

Grd 4-Grd 8 Girls group – “the uses of trees in everyday life”

Grd R – Grd 2 – “making leaves by practicing tracing and cutting skills”

Grd 3-Grd 4- “the uses of trees”

Grd 4-Grd8 Boys group -” the uses of trees”

Our thanks to Deborah Kleynhans for her kind donation of the tree. Mr Moceia and Mrs Ngewu explained to the children how a tree grows and what is needed in planting and caring for a tree.

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Learning and Growing

The week of 25- 29 August was full of vibe!

Grandmothers from all over Khayelitsha gathered for our monthly workshops and Indaba. This is an opportunity for GAPA grandmothers to invite friends and neighbours to learn the skills and participate in discussions

On 25 August the Nutrition Workshops continued with the UCT students- this was the day for making posters of the different food groups, as pictured in the last post.

On the 26 August the voices of grandmothers from near and far welcomed the opening of the workshops with much singing and dancing

Gardening workshop

26 August Mr Moceia gave an experiential gardening workshop in the GAPA vegetable garden.

Step 1: Line the prepared hole with cardboard to prevent water loss. The hole is the size of a door and about 1m deep.

Mrs Madzinga assists Mr Moceia as a co-facilitator

Step 2: Break pieces of cardboard into hole and then fill with compost from heap.

Step 3: Filling with soil. Grandmothers took turns to shovel and the hole was filled in no time

Watching an asking questions

Step 4: Mr Moceia measures where the rows should be planted

Step 5: Planting beetroot seedlings and cabbage & carrot seeds

Finishing off with some water

Human Rights

Mrs Sohena gave a workshop covering topics such as the different types of elderly abuse


UCT students continued workshoping on what a balanced meal included

Parenting skills

Mrs Hoza spoke about the prevalence of pregnancy amongst the youth and the types of support they should receive. She also covered some of ways in which parents can communicate with babies aged 1-3 years.
27 August the workshops continued…
Vivienne ran a whole day workshop covering topics such as: Basic awareness, Myths and Facts, Care and Support and How it affects me.

The workshop started with gentle exercise which the Grandmothers thoroughly enjoyed – this one is called ‘coconut’ in which one spells out the work with your arms.

The UCT students Incorporated their workshop on nutritional needs for people with HIV/AIDS under the care and support component.

28 August…

Business skills

Mrs Hoza covered the 7 P’s with the participants. This included discussions about: Profit, Price, Production, Place, People etc.

Mrs Mdaka held discussions about Death and Dying, including topics such as coping skills and preparing for the death of a loved one. The workshop closed with presentation of some of the places people can go to for care and support.

29 August…


This is a large gathering of all grandmothers and guests. It is held every month on the last Friday and creates an opportunity for meeting and listening to a guest speaker.

Every month a Grandmother volunteers to find a guest speaker for the event. This month Mrs Nduku invited the Khayelitsha Talent Exchange. This forms part of the Community Exchange System. The speakers started with a skit explaining the principles behind the organisation and later divided the grandmothers into four groups to discuss the system. Grandmothers asked many questions ranging from…”what do I do with the extra materials from building my house?” to “how does the talent exchange help me to build another room onto my small shack?” The grandmothers left wondering how they would like to use this system and no formal decision was made. GAPA has not formed a partnership with this organisation but rather leave it to the Grannies to make their own informed decisions.

The Indaba ended with a delicious lunch served by the Grandmothers working in the kitchen

What happening in the Afterschool care?
This week we put our workshops on hold and did some in-action learning. Althea spent one lesson a day with different teachers. The teachers choose which type of lesson/class they wanted to have her sit in on. Following this we would have a reflection workshop.
The afterschool cares for children from Grade R to Grade 8 (5yrs old to 16 yrs) with about 93 children attending daily. Vulnerable children are referred here by teachers at GAPA’s neighbouring school.

On Monday Mrs Ngewu held a free-play class for the Grade R – Grade 2 children. During this session we provided the children with toys and dress up materials and observed the different types of play the children engaged in.
As afterschool caregivers we have identified play as the main occupation through which children learn and develop. We have incorporated these opportunities to play within our programme

Dramatic play inacting social roles and fairy tales (Takata’s Play Epoch, 1974, Parham, 2008)

Pretending to be a construction worker with a jack-hammer

Pretending to be the superman

‘Peeling potatoes’

Practising our gross-motor balancing skills and pretending to be princesses

‘I can balance and dance!’

Singing dancing and making music

Tuesday Mrs Mangxilana held an exercise group. The boys aged 8-12 all love soccer. The session started with some warm-ups, some balls skills, some agility training and finally a soccer match

Game (Takata’s Play Epoch, 1974, Parham, 2008)

For this age group soccer is not only enjoyable but it provides an opportunity to learn cooperative play, practising sports skills and learning to master and make rules in a group

On Wednesday Mrs Mavilo had an exercise group with children aged 5-9. The exercise included and obstacle course for developing gross motor skills such as balancing, bilateral jumping, hopping on dominant foot and aiming a throw.

On Friday Mrs Hoza had a free play session outside with the children aged 10 to 16. Since there were not many girls this day and the girls were present agreed to play with, the game of choice was once again soccer. Very often the girls find meaningful occupation in watching and cheering the soccer while styling each other’s hair. This time Mr Moceia assisted as referee.

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Jika-jika GAPA !

‘Jika’ in isiXhosa means to turn around and captures the hustle and bustle of everyone involved at GAPA.

This blog will serve as a forum to keep you up to date with all the events that happen at GAPA, Khayelitsha. With time other members of GAPA will be writing posts for this blog.

The centre is a hub of activity with daily activities, workshops, grandmothers representing GAPA and the voice of women at various events, children playing and learning… in essence everyone seems ready and eager to learn and grow.

Afterschool care

On the 7th August I (Althea Barry) started work as an Occupational Therapist at GAPA. My main focus will be assisting with planning a developmental programme for the 93 children that attend our afterschool care centre. There are four grandmothers working as teachers in the after care and one grandmother who teaches knitting. From left to right: Mrs Ngewu teaches Grade R-Grade2, Mrs Mangxilana teaches Grade 5-Grade 6, Mrs Mavilo teaches Grade 3-Grade 4, Mrs Skefile teaches knitting to all children interested and Mrs Hoza teaches Grade 7-Grade 8. We have been holding daily workshops around designing our programme and have come up with a provisional programme that we’ll test throughout the coming weeks.

Aftercare workshops

Visit to Johannesberg

From the 13-15 August Mrs Mase was invited to Johannesburg to participate in a dialogue workshop on HIV/AIDS held by the Department of Social Development. She caught an aeroplane at the crack of dawn with the assistance of Mrs Budaza (Executive Director, GAPA). Mrs Mase was given an opportunity to speak about GAPA at the workshop and really enjoyed the experience.

St Pauls visit

On the 19 August GAPA grannies were invited by the members of St Paul’s church (in Rondebosch, Cape Town) to give a talk about what happens at GAPA. St Paul’s church have shown such interest in forming a partnership with GAPA and often ask for what the Grandmothers might need. Mrs Vivienne Budaza (Executive Director) attended with the GAPA grandmothers. Mrs Dlulane, Mrs Sohena and Mrs Lusizi gave a very good presentation to the church which has resulted in a committment from the church to give GAPA second hand clothing for the store and material off-cuts for the sewing projects.

We are really grateful to St Pauls for their interest in our projects and enjoy the opportunities to visit with them.

Department of Social Development Sports Day for Grandmothers and Grandfathers

On the 20th August two of GAPA’s grandmothers, Mrs Hoza and Mrs Mangxilana (both aftercare teachers) energetically volunteered to take part in a sports day at the Bellville sports ground. Participants from Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain and Gugulethu (to mention a few) competed in various events. Mrs Hoza took part in the running and Mrs Mangxilana took part in the ‘rugby throw’. Both describe this day as really enjoyable and were even more proud to say that the Khayelitsha teams performed the best. This is an annual event and both grandmothers would like to compete next year. This just goes to show how much energy this grandmothers have!

SAFm interview

On the 20 August Vivienne (Executive Director) was invited to speak on a radio show hosted by Nancy Richards. Interest in GAPA was created due to documentary research by the Isandla Institute (which will be discussed further on). Vivienne spoke about the empowering structure of GAPA and how it assists in combating stigma of HIV/AIDS.

GAPA uses opportunities such as this to create more awareness about HIV/AIDS in our country. South Africa has such a high prevalence of the disease that we feel that by giving voice to our experiences we can further assist in moving it onto the national priority list.

UCT medical students present their findings…
Four 4th year medical students from the University of Cape Town (Colin Noel, Carly Leveton, Marsha Salo and Rizqa Sulaiman) conducted research on Grandmothers in Khayelitsha’s knowledge of nutrition. They interviewed various grandmothers from GAPA using a survey. Their findings indicated that many of the grandmothers had not been given the necessary information at the clinics regarding nutrition and chronic diseases such as diabetes. The students will make the research findings available to GAPA. Their presentation on 20th August involved negotiating a health promotion project with the grandmothers at GAPA. It was eventually decided that the most effective project would be 3 workshops on nutrition, to be given during GAPA’s monthly workshop week.

Their three workshops included:

  • Learning about food groups and making posters on the types of food from each group – directly related to the everyday food the grandmothers eat
  • Learning about the food pyrimid and correct ratios for a daily balance
  • Information on Vitamins and special dietry needs of people with HIV/AIDS

The students have left us some fantasitic posters to remind us of all that we learnt. We really enjoyed the time spent with them and found all the information valuable. In the words of the grandmothers ” now we are going to try eat more healthily”

Mrs Madzinga attends the launch of the documentary (Pocityvity+)

21 August Mrs Madzinga was invited to the Iziko Museum in Cape Town to view the launch of a documentry which she was interviewed for. It was produced by Mirjam van Donk, is the director of the Isandla Institute and Stacey-Leigh Joseph, a policy researcher at the Isandla Institute, were the producers of the documentary. It focusses on a story of survival and belonging in the context of HIV/AIDS- it “tells a story of Khayelitsha through the eyes of young adults, who comment on their day to day lives and physical conditions. Their commentary reveals that HIV/AIDS is inextricably linked to their daily realities and the built environment. The documentary also features a story of a grandmother who takes care of her orphaned grandchildren after the death of her daughters”. The documentary will be exhibited to the public at the Iziko Museum (dates not yet known).

GAPA – is full of energy, full of enthusiasm and on the go, Jika-jika GAPA!

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Welcome to the GAPA Blog

This is the very first post on the new GAPA blog. Please bear with us while we learn some new techno-tricks and figure all of this out!

We hope to bring you ongoing news of what is happening at GAPA in Khayelitsha.

But much more importantly, this is also a space for YOU to talk with us. So go right ahead and Post a Comment

Althea – Occupational Therapist at GAPA

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