Welcome to the somewhat delayed final newsletter of 2020, as many of you will know I had to take a leave of absence due to family commitments and bereavement, so for me December 2020 and January 2021 have been personally challenging.  As such a small charity, this means that some of our regular tasks had to be delayed but rest assured the essential ones of managing your generous donations and importantly, supporting and funding our beneficiary projects continued quietly throughout the period (even if it was sometimes in the early hours of the morning when other commitments allowed!)

Project Updates

1000 Hills Community Helpers – Primary HealthCare Clinic – South Africa

Dawn and the team at 1000 Hills Community Helpers have been inspirational in their response to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and that was never more evident than in the quarterly report we received in early January.  GAGA supporters help to fund the clinic at 1000 Hills Community Helpers and, even though the services had to be adapted to take into consideration the new safety requirements and regulations brought about by Covid-19 this clinic continued to operate and was able to help 1,680 adults and 948 babies and children in the three months to December 2020!  This is the power of your donations, providing health care, advice, and preventative medicines to so many people who would otherwise have no access to such care. The breadth of aliments and conditions the practitioners at this clinic see never fails to amaze me – everything from ear and eye infections, through scabies, tetanus, diabetes, and HIV/Aids.  Sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting individuals with co-morbidities such as HIV even more severely, as they may default on their medication as they are afraid to attend government clinics and hospitals that are overcrowded.  This is where the Community Care Givers can provide such a valuable service, keeping an eye on the most vulnerable in the community and providing a service to distribute chronic medication at designated pick-up points throughout the valley.  995 packs of chronic medication were delivered in this way in the last three months of 2020, that is nearly 1,000 people who didn’t have to make the challenging journey to the clinic and ensured that the Community Care Givers were able to support each person with their individualised adherence plan and follow through.

Aside from the busy clinic activities, the team at 1000 Hills Community Helpers have also extended their feeding scheme in 2020 and, thanks to the second meals on wheels trailer being commissioned, they reached 4,000 people EVERY DAY with a hot meal!

Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust – South Africa

212 patients were admitted to HACT’s Respite Unit in 2020, that means each bed was taken by an average of 8 patients in the year – GAGA supporters sponsor one of these beds and the value that offers to individuals and their families cannot be expressed more clearly than with this case history:

Holding hands

“Sifiso* was admitted into our Unit by his family in March this year. He was so weak at the time, he had to be wheeled in in a wheelchair and carefully lifted into bed. A tall, 55 year old man, Sifiso weighed a mere 39.5kg at the time. I recall thinking to myself that it had been a while since I had seen a patient who fitted the picture of AIDS wasting syndrome so accurately! He was skin and bone, so weak that all he could do was breathe and look at us. His cheeks were sunken, eyes hollow and he was severely dehydrated from persistent diarrhoea. Despite being so ill, I knew instantly I cared deeply for this dear man and wanted desperately to fight for him. However, as we tucked Sifiso into bed we unfortunately didn’t hold out too much hope for his recovery as his CD4 count, an indication of his body’s ability to fight infection, was extremely low. Day by day the team and I nursed Sifiso, lifting him to a sitting position and gently laying him back down again after every bed bath. He spoke very little and slept most of the day. I would greet him and talk to him a bit whenever he was awake. To my relief, I soon discovered he spoke English much better than my broken Zulu! Shortly after his admission, we discovered Sifiso was also suffering from TB and so he was immediately started on treatment for this. We also realised he hadn’t been taking his antiretroviral treatment (ART) properly at home. Initially, he would refuse to take it here in the Unit. He needed someone to explain the importance of taking it regularly and to watch that he took it each day. In essence, he needed the accountability of someone who understood the vital importance of the ART he was taking. Thankfully, our team specialises in adherence counselling and Sifiso’s attitude and behaviour soon changed. He also unfortunately didn’t want to eat much. Slowly and patiently our carers fed him what he could manage and whenever I got a chance to feed him personally, I’d take it. Something about the call to fight I’d felt on first meeting Sifiso, drove me to keep trying just one more spoonful! A small victory perhaps….but so encouraging when a patient can finally swallow! Eventually, he began to eat more varied foods until he was once again eating full meals. Today, Sifiso sits up in bed and he greets me when I come on duty. He also gets up with support, to go sit in the sun on our Unit’s verandah or on the couch in our patients’ lounge each day. His skin is looking much healthier and his cheeks have filled out. Sifiso’s wife has asked if he can go home soon as they miss him and she feels she can care for him now. But Sifiso will likely need our team’s care for a little while longer until he’s regained more of his strength. However, the precious 5kgs this man has gained has reminded us all again of the power of care and the importance of taking ART properly. Sifiso’s miraculous recovery has also served to remind me personally of the importance of courage and of our role as “encouragers”. Sometimes, the difference between success and failure can be having people to stand with us, to help us do what we know we should, like taking our medication, and yet have lost the will or strength to do so alone.” Sister Sally De Villiers HACT Nurse

Thank you for helping to support HACT’s life saving work!

KYGN – Tanzania

This is the KYGN Primary 7 class of 2020, the group of pupils who continued to study through the pandemic with home study packs and returned to school to study wearing facemasks and sitting apart from their friends and teachers.  This is also the group of pupils who achieved remarkable results in their secondary school entry examinations! 

Most of the class achieved “A” as an overall grade and this exceptional performance put the school top in its group (1/195) and top in the region (1/648). Grateful thanks to the GAGA supporters whose donations allow us to sponsor this Primary 7 class which does so much to give these children a solid foundation on which to build their future learning. The 2020 cohort will be a hard act to follow, but with your help, we hope to continue to sponsor the class for another group of young learners in 2021. You can donate to our special appeal here

Svunokuhle – South Africa

We are delighted that Khanyisile was able to start her creche project in 2020 despite the many challenges she faced.  Here are some pictures of the Graduation from December, when the children said goodbye to their early years education ready to embark on the big step up to Primary School in February 2021!

Sangobeg Students – South Africa

We were delighted to hear the news that our student Sli M graduated in 2020, completing her BA degree in Foundation Stage Education.  We wish her lots of luck in gaining employment and have high hopes for her future. Our other Sangobeg students also kept up with their studies as best they could given the challenges of Covid-19 lockdown, power outages and university shut-downs. 

woman with 2 children facing away from the camera

Bongiwe successfully completed three examinations in her diploma in Information Technology and we’d like to extend a big thank you to all of the people who contributed to the Crowdfunder we set up in December to provide the final funding Bongiwe needed to complete her house build and have a safe and sanitary home for herself and her two small children.  Once the house is fully completed and Bongiwe is settled in we will share the pictures and she will have a comfortable family home for the future – THANKS TO YOU!

Sad News

I am terribly sorry that I have some dreadful news to share with you.  Early in January we heard that Nolly, one of our lovely students had died suddenly.  Nolly was studying a BA in Community Development and worked at Zimele (a project some of you will remember).  Her death not only deprives us of an inspirational leader and a person who would change lives in her community but also leaves two teenaged children orphaned and a toddler without his mother.

Within days we heard that Coronavirus had claimed the life of Promise, the dedicated and impressive founder and head teacher of the creche and pre-school Number 9 in KwaXimba.  Promise worked tirelessly to build up her creche, to gain registration with the Department of Social Development and become self-sustaining.  Another devastating loss, not only to her family, her community but also the wider community of GAGA who have so enjoyed supporting her and watching her success.  Both women were true leaders in their communities and full of ambition, drive and community spirit. 

“Lala ngoxolo”  Nolungiso & Promise, the world is poorer without you.

And so to the future……

As Promise always did when faced with a challenge or adversity, we must keep going and keep focussed, our beneficiaries need our help now more than ever and here at GAGA UK we are determined to continue raising awareness, and raising funds, to help some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world.  We couldn’t do what we do without you, so thank you very much for your loyal support through 2020 and into 2021.  We’ll do all we can to bring you good news stories, positive messages and fun events – be they virtual or (at some point) face to face!  In the meantime you can help by telling your friends about GAGA UK and why you support us or by joining one of our online or sponsored events – watch the website & our social media for details!

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 search for “Goodwill and Growth for Africa” or 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!


Remembering Tree Project Update

Those of you in Stratford upon Avon will know that we have not been able to take down the yarnbombing due to the prevailing lockdown regulations.  For everyone who is waiting for their bauble and or star, please be assured that they will be sent to you as soon as possible and if any are badly weathered, we will replace them with one suitable to be kept as a memento for you.  Please bear with us! 


Just a reminder that we’ve moved out of our offices, so if you’d like to get in touch by post please use our PO BOX  6751, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 1UQ

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], going on to the website https://www.gaga-uk.org or clicking the link at the foot of any email you receive from us. If you don’t already, please follow us on one or all of your preferred social media platforms, we’re on FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn

However long the night, the dawn will break - African proverb