Welcome to the third newsletter of 2020, we hope that you had a good summer and are keeping well as we move into autumn, we’re certainly noticing the shorter days already and in South Africa the winter is giving way to a changeable spring!

Little girl walking away with new clothes

We were delighted to receive news that our shipment arrived safely in South Africa and has been distributed across the community of Inchanga by the team at 1000 Hills Community Helpers.  These items of clothing and knitwear make such a difference to the children and babies, keeping them warm and providing a much-needed change of clothes. 

Baby being bathed in red tub

Dawn tells us so many stories of people arriving at the centre in desperate need; this beautiful child arrived in a very poorly state and received the help he needed from the team.  Dawn said

These children are currently relying on us for their needs on a daily basis, including food, clothing, shoes and hygiene.

The experience from 1000 HCH is borne out by a recently issued report from Unicef, (Child Poverty in South Africa: A Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis) which identifies that children who are multidimensionally poor suffer on average 4 out of 7 deprivations. Multidimensionally poor children are overwhelmingly located in rural areas, live in the traditionally poor provinces of Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, have a household head that is female and Black African, and live in households where few adults are gainfully employed.

Women and children queueing

We are also really pleased to hear that the small zebra toys donated by NinetyOne PLC are now being used as “clinic buddies” so when a small child has to go to the clinic for treatment or a check-up, they are given a clinic buddy zebra to comfort them! Here are just some of the children waiting with their Mum’s and Gogo’s last week.

Table with food provisions in bags

Russell from iSthembiso continues to support the Gogo’s with food parcels since the Coronavirus restrictions have halted the GAGA GOGO lunch club!  The provision of basic food items like rice, mealie meal (maize flour), sugar and potatoes helps the Gogo’s to provide for themselves and the grandchildren in their care, meaning that, for some nights at least, they don’t go to bed hungry. Micro projects like iSthembiso can make a big difference in a small rural community like Kwa Nyuswa.

In addition to continuing the Respite Unit, Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (HACT) have also been supporting the community with the distribution of emergency food relief hampers which include disinfectants and COVID-19 educational material. As of the 30th June 2020, the team has distributed 1240 food hampers benefitting 3 837 adults and 4 230 children. HACT focus their efforts on child-headed and Gogo-headed households.

child sleeping in arms of a woman

Thanks to your support, we continue to sponsor a bed at the Respite Unit and the importance of that can be demonstrated by the story of 4 year old Mbali* who is one of the 260,000 children (0-14yrs) living with HIV Aids in South Africa. Mbali’s mom brought her to the unit in mid March, she was in a poorly state as neither her HIV or TB medication had been administered for some time and her mom was not managing at all. 

Luckily after just a few days back on the correct medication and thanks to regular, healthy meals the withdrawn, shy child who had arrived started to become more animated and energetic. Soon she was following the nurses around the ward and she became especially attached to one of the Gogo’s also being cared for. Mbali snuggles up to this Gogo every night before being gently carried back to her own bed. She remains in the Respite Unit while the team work with social services to secure her long term care needs, most likely with a foster family but until then she is safe, warm and happy at HACT.

young woman in graduation gowns

Our Sangobeg scholars have had a challenging time as they try to maintain their studies with Universities closed and intermittent electricity and internet connections. However, we have some fabulous news, Sli has achieved her Bachelor of Education (Foundation Level) and is now actively seeking her first job in a primary school.  She said

I cannot express how grateful I am to the GAGA family for giving me such support. I would like to thank you so much

We’ve also heard from Nokwanda (Financial Management) and Luyanda (Bachelor of Education) who have both been facing challenges with their studies due to the Covid lockdown but who are both now back on track and determined to complete their studies. Sandile (BA EcoTourism Mgt) has had a tough lockdown, made worse by having suffered a robbery in July where the thief snatched his college bag containing money, his bank card, text books and phone. We were worried that we hadn’t heard from him, now we know why! Bongiwe (Information Technology) is also doing well having achieved 92% and 74% in her last two examinations, despite also having two children to care for and living in very poor accommodation.  All these students face enormous challenges but they all share the determination to get a better life for themselves and their families through education.

Organisation update

We continue to find ways to improve what we do here at GAGA UK and to increase our impact.  The summer months provided the opportunity to review our strategy for the long term and we have some exciting ideas which we plan to share soon.  Our Director, Claire completed a Charity Management Certificate which she self-funded as part of her own professional development as well as completing two day courses with the Foundation for Social Improvement.

two men standing in front of a brick built office

Marking the end of an era, we vacated our office space at Big Red Recruitment this week and would like to thank everyone at Big Red for all the years of support.  We were sorry to be leaving but understand that the space was needed so that they could bring their employees back to a Covid safe, socially distanced workplace.  For now, Claire will continue to work from home and we will review the situation in the new year.  You can still send post to the 50 Cygnet Court address until we set up a new postal address.

woman in cycle helmet with slogan

On the fundraising side, Claire completed the 46 mile cycle ride for the Prudential My Ride London challenge in August raising £260 and donations continue to come in from the fundraiser set up by our supporter Ian who was due to run the Manchester Marathon.  We also tried a fundraiser encouraging people to share the benefit of the “eat out to help out” initiative with a text to donate campaign (Text MEALTIME to 70085 to give £3, texts cost £3 plus your standard message rate)  It’s still live, so if you benefitted from the scheme and would like to add your support to our fundraiser, please do!

Yarnbombed Tree Bancroft Gardens Stratford upon Avon

You will also have received a message, either by email or post, about our forthcoming Remembering Tree project.  Please get involved with this fundraiser as it is a wonderful opportunity to commemorate or celebrate loved ones whilst helping individuals and communities in southern Africa.  We couldn’t support the wonderful projects mentioned above without your generosity and The Remembering Tree is one of our biggest, annual events.  Click on the link above if you'd like to get involved this year! 


We are always keen to keep in touch with you all as much as possible, across the website and social media as well as through the quarterly newsletter on email or in the post.  Please don’t forget you can change your communication preferences at any time, either by emailing us on [email protected] or on the website.

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Fancy getting involved?

There are lots of ways you can support the work of GAGA UK.  Dare I say, if you are starting to shop for Christmas,  please don’t forget that you can raise extra funds for GAGA UK AT NO COST TO YOURSELF! Simply sign up to a charity linked online shopping portal, we are registered with Give as You Live, Easyfundraising and Amazon Smile – just click here where you’ll find links to all of the online shopping portals. All the pennies really do add up, so please don’t think your contribution won’t make a difference!

 Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much - Helen Keller