Computers for Kylemore-A very special collaborative project

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Article by: Linda Brash


On Monday, 13 May, Kylemore Secondary School received ten computers for their brand new library.  This is the very first library to be created in the rural village of Kylemore and has been set up at the high school through Imbali Western Cape.  Imbali is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of the Kylemore community.  The computers were donated by TSiBA, a non-profit business school based in Pinelands, Cape Town.  The initiative was co-ordinated by Linda Brash, a Stellenbosch University Clinical Psychology Masters’ student who volunteered at TSiBA last year.

Kylemore is a previously disadvantaged rural community outside Stellenbosch. Although an old established community with a remarkable level of generic skills and individual talent, it is still economically vulnerable with an unemployment rate of over 40% and few community facilities. With a population of 4000+ people, the community is largely dependent on seasonal jobs as farm labourers during the harvest season. For the rest of the year, unemployment is rampant and few are able to support themselves through personal endeavour. There is no industry of any kind in this little settlement and employable skills are limited. There is no internet café, no computers and no sports facilities.

Founded in 1988, it was Imbali’s aim to provide art education in rural South Africa schools. In time this developed into multiple programmes that support children and adults in disadvantaged communities achieve a better quality of life.  In 2001, two original members of Imbali, Yvonne Wilson and Jeanne Bestbier-Bloch joined forces as neighbours of Kylemore to provide art education for the village children under the auspices of Imbali. Imbali Western Cape was founded but soon they discovered that the children were often too malnourished to even enjoy the art. This lead to a joint effort with local farmers’ wives to establish a soup kitchen in the winter months and provide a meal with the art classes.  Joined early on by Eva Williams (now a director and project leader) and other community volunteers, Imbali in Kylemore has become an established part of the village tapestry. It has enabled the community to launch a number of initiatives to address the needs of both children and their under-employed parents, on the basis of respect for whole person – whole family – whole community.

The Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA) was founded in 2004 with a vision to “Ignite Opportunity”.  TSiBA’s mission is to be an innovative learning community that graduates entrepreneurial leaders who ignite opportunity and social change.  TSiBA is a unique private, not for profit business school that helps people who cannot access opportunities to jump ahead in life. TSiBA does this by providing emerging leaders an opportunity to study high quality, accredited academic courses that are focused on developing entrepreneurship and leadership. Their aim is to provide excellent business education for people with a social conscience who have the desire and the skills to build our nation. For this reason, TSiBA does not require their students to pay them back for their scholarships but rather to Pay it Forward. 

The joint effort between Imbali Western Cape and TSiBA was co-ordinated by Linda Brash, a Clinical Psychology Masters’ student at the University of Stellenbosch.  Linda has been working in Kylemore as part of her Masters’ degree along with her community partner, Tracey-Lee Arendse.  Linda worked at TSiBA last year and contacted them to see if they could assist with computer donation.  Beverley Basson, Relationships Manager, was eager to oblige.  “At TSiBA, we believe in igniting opportunity through education and realise the importance of access to information.  We were only too happy to help out by donating some of our computers to help spread knowledge for the Kylemore community”.

The ten computers were set up by Stellenbosch University IT Services and will be available for Kylemore Secondary students to use.  Linda and Tracey-Lee are also busy working on a community skills development programme, where community members will be able to learn basic computer skills after school hours.  They are also working on other community initiatives including a women’s empowerment group, psychological skills training for the nursing staff at the Kylemore clinic and workshops for high school students.  Linda is extremely passionate about her studies and the work being done in Kylemore, “I feel so incredibly grateful to be doing my Clinical Psychology degree at Stellenbosch University because community work forms such an integral part of our training.  The university is committed to offering psychological services to communities in need and it is so wonderful to be able to work with TSiBA and bring in much needed equipment to help this special community.”

To find out more about sponsorship or volunteer opportunities in Kylemore, please contact Linda Brash on 072 277 5533 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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