Our Mission

Generating growth for African children and communities devastated by HIV-AIDS and poverty, through the goodwill of people in the UK and elsewhere

GAGA Project - First Step Right Pre-school - News


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We urgently need your help

We urgently need your help

We really need your help to fix damage caused by a recent storm in South Africa, at First Step Right School.

Please visit our crowdfunder page here, to find out more.

A huge strom recently battered Durban and ares of Kwa Zulu Natal. FSR didn't escape and there was flooding inside and out. There were leaks where the roof and ceiling boards have been damaged.

We urgently need your help to help fix the roof, before the rains return.

The work has begun, but there's a lot to be done!

Thank you for your support.

We've got a new Fundraiser!!

We've got a new Fundraiser!!

We've got a new fundraiser! And we're thrilled!

We hope you'll join us in giving Hana Smiddy a warm welcome to the GAGA family. GAGA director Sarah met Hana about a year ago and they got chatting about GAGA's work. It sparked Hana's interest, and through Take Flight Aviation we organised the Loop the Loop Challenge (take part here).

Next year, Hana will be visiting South Africa and spending some time at the projects GAGA supports there. She hopes to use many of her skills, particularly those she's gained working with children and at her local Beavers group, at various projects and in particular at First Step Right School.

In the run-up to her visit, she aims to raise £2,500! What a staggering target and we wish her all the best. She's going to undertake various challenges and we'll keep you updated along the way.

You can find out more about Hana's fundraising, and show your support, by clicking here.

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!

We can't thank you enough...

The classrooms at First Step Right are now in use and we wanted to share this short video, showing how you've helped to build a brighter future there.

Click here to watch the video

The classrooms will be dedicated to Richard Harrod, a former GAGA UK Trustee. Almost half of the money needed for this project was raised in his memory. What a legacy which will impact so many children. 
With special thanks also, to those who helped fund this project including the following:

  • Irene Gillies, one of our Scottish ambassadors and her fundraising efforts with Gilbert and Sullivan events
  • Those attending our Meerkat Race Night, 2016 and wine tasting evening 2015
  • Stratford upon Avon and Alcester Alauna Rotary Clubs
  • Marissa Alvarez and Ian Hodgson for Going Loopy
  • John and Eileen Proctor
  • Chameleon and Doreen Hodgson
  • Our wonderful Crowdfunder backers
  • and to all our ambasssadors, volunteers and regular donors of GAGA for your ongoing support.
  • Thanks also to Waldo and the team at Freys, and Martin and the building team.

 

This couldn't have happened without you!

Click here to watch the video.

Building a Brighter Future at First Step Right

Building a Brighter Future at First Step Right

What a great start this year has gotten off to. Things are in full swing with the building work at First Step Right, but we really need your help to continue ...

Builders are hard at work at the school in South Africa, creating 3 new classrooms plus toilets, from an old derelict building on the school grounds. This will create extra learning space, a place which can be used for the pre-school children, to ensure they have their own inviting classrooms. We are so excited to see the work in motion.

The total project cost however, is over £13,000 and we really need your help to reach our fundraising target. Much of this funding has been raised in memory of former GAGA Trustee Richard Harrod; and some from fundraising events and our fantastic ambassadors. We hope to now raise an additional £1,000 to help with the final costs of the project.

Please visit our Crowdfunder page, take a look at the video to find out more and donate if you feel able. Alternatively, please share this Crowdfunder far and wide - the more people that see it, the better. It is all or nothing and so if we don't raise £1,000 by 15th February we won't receive the funding that has so far been pledged.

Click HERE to visit the page.

In the words of one of the children at First Step Right: 'I like the school because the teachers likes to teach us to work. I like to change something, I would like to put grade 4 to the other class, so there wouldn't be many children'. We can't wait to make these changes!

Thank you for your support in helping us to build a brighter future for the children at First Step Right school.

 

It's FriYay!!

It's FriYay!!

Today's why we do what we do story is a story of success!!

We do what we do for moments like these when we get approval to go ahead with a fantastic project that we know will make a difference to the education of many ...
We have been trying to get new classrooms at FIRST STEP RIGHTSchool for some time now, so that the pre-school children can be in a separate building (which will give a number of benefits to the whole school). 
We hope building work on renovating this building will now begin next week, and be completed by the end of January in time for the children to return to school after the holidays. 
We will of course, keep you updated with our progress. 
We'll also be holding a crowd-funding campaign in the New Year, to help top up our fundraising pot for this project - we're almost there, but not quite.

Thanks everyone - we're so happy we can share this wonderful news with you, our wonderful supporters!

End of the year at FSR

End of the year at FSR

This week, the children at First Step Right school celebrated the end of the year.

They held a graduation ceremony for all the children going on to their next school, and all the pupils had a great day.

With special thanks to Frey's Abattoir who helped with the graduation day, making it a really special day for all the children.

We think this message left by some of the older children leaving school, for Gael (the project manager at FSR), shows just why their education is important and why continuing to support this school is important.

The message reads: 'Thank you Gael for teaching us this year. We are going to miss our school and Good Luck. Thank you Gael for the wonderful time. We love you'.

Well done to Gael and all the teachers at FSR for providing a great start in life for a wonderful group of children. You can see more photos from the graduation day, by visiting FSR's Facebook page (click here).

This would not be possible without your support and donations to GAGA, which help keep FSR going. Thank you.

Why we do what we do - Music Time!

Why we do what we do - Music Time!

Imagine, play, learn, repeat....

This video from First Step Right creche children really shows this in action and reflects the opportunities these children have at the school. Watch the video  by clicking here.

Using a variety of items, they are making music and moving and learning at the same time!

The teachers at FSR are clearly doing a fantastic job!

A little reminder on why play is so important (because as adults, we can tend to forget)...

'Experts tell us that 90% of all brain development occurs by the age of five. If we don't begin thinking about education in the early years, our children are at risk of falling behind by the time they start Kindergarten.' (Robert L Ehrlich - with thanks to LETCEE for reminding us of this quotation!)

 

Why we do what we do - Children and Education

Why we do what we do - Children and Education

There are many reasons that GAGA continues to support children, communities and organisations in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa.

The need to support those affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty, helping people to make sustainable and meaningful changes in their lives, is apparent in both the statistics we see coming from South Africa and other countries showing high levels of poverty and disease, and also in the stories we hear from projects.

One way to make a huge difference is through education. Through education much can be achieved and slowly, changes can be made.

Akhona, a former pupil at First Step Right School came to visit the school this week. He wanted to show Gael and the other teachers his report - he is doing so well at his new school. We are really glad he had such a great start to his education at First Step Right School. He had opportunities that he may not have had at other schools, and is growing in to a wonderful boy.

Well done Akhona and all at FSR.


Why we do what we do - Education

Why we do what we do - Education

We are continually grateful for your support and want to show you, throughout the year, why it is so important. GAGA, thanks to our donors and supporters, are the main funders of First Step Right school, South Africa. Over 140 children are able to access quality education because of you! These children are constantly learning. Their vegetable garden is one great example of an opportunity provided that they may not have at other schools; it helps to teach various skills, including responsibility. We support First Step Right because we believe in the importance of education; the impact of our funding (as well as the hard work of all the staff at First Step Right) is reflected in these children (and their smiles in this photo!).
The Garden Flourishes

The Garden Flourishes

First Step Right School have put together a wonderful video showcasing their Vegetable Garden. 

Please click HERE to watch this video. 

First Step Right has a link with Sedgeberrow Primary School here in the UK, and they share work, pictures and videos with each other, learning about different things happening in South Africa and the UK.

Thank you to all our donors who help ensure that these wonderful children (almost 150 of them!) are educated. GAGA UK are the main funders of this school, and therefore when you donate you can be sure that you are making a real difference to a child's life. Without you, they would be unable to access quality education. 

It's great to see the vegtable garden (built by Scottish volunteers and GAGA ambassadors Karen, Colin and Natialie last year) doing so well.

It's wonderful to give you more of a taste as to where your donations go, and why we do what we do!

Why we do what we do

Why we do what we do

Every Friday, grades 4 and 5 at First Step Right School get together to play Monopoly. 
This helps them with a variety of skills, including maths, team work, co-operation and patience. This is just one fantastic example of the great work going on at First Step Right.

There are always amusing comments coming from the teachers and children at the school, but comments which show how bright the children are and how they are being given a fantastic opportunity for a really good quality education. (One child for example, said, after a lesson on healthy eating, 'if you eat too much, it will kilogram you!')

This week, Gael (the school's project manager, and Grade 4/5 teacher), reported that 'the children are growing up every day. The creche children become more and more self-sufficient. The children improve their English and it is a privilege to see our teaching improving their lives month after month.'

GAGA UK are the primary funders of the school, and we couldn't do it without your help. Thanks to all who have donated in the past to GAGA, or who continue to donate on a regular basis. You're the reason that 140 children are currently attending a great school in rural South Africa, and being given a wonderful start in life. 

School Expansion

School Expansion

We hope to soon expand First Step Right school by getting a new classroom block. We are currently fundraising to help the school. 

You can see some words from one child, and click here to see more of their work. They tell us why they love the school and hor a change can help improve the school. 

We'll keep you updated and will soon be sharing a video as well as links to our crowdfunding site to find out more and support this appeal. 

If you would like to help now, please click here and reference First Step Right. 

A glimpse in to the life of children at First Step Right School...

A glimpse in to the life of children at First Step Right School...

Last week, Sarah (GAGA Director), went to talk to the whole of Sedgeberrow CE First School, about Africa, South Africa and First Step Right School.
Charlie set up a link between the schools a little while back, and so some of the children have been sending letters to one another, as well as sharing photographs of different projects (on topics including democracy, recycling, and vegetable gardens!).

Click here to see a short video which Sarah put together for the assembly - it will give you a brief glimpse in to life at First Step Right School. 

And they're back...

And they're back...

The new school year began just a couple of weeks ago in South Africa, and already the children are having a great year at First Step Right School. 144 children are now attending the school. Gael and the staff did some great problem solving/space saving, getting new benches and tables installed to make sure the school can accommodate the increase in numbers.

We're looking forward to an exciting year at First Step Right. We hope to get a new classroom or two at the school so that the creche children can have their own space for play and learning. 

If you'd like to help the school and GAGA to creat more space there, improving the quality of education for almost 150 children, simply click here to donate. Alternatively, get in touch to find out how you can support us in other ways.

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First Step Right Visits 1000 Hills

First Step Right Visits 1000 Hills

Teachers from First Step Right have spent a day of their school holidays learning from those at the 1000 Hills Community Helpers Centre school. 
It's fantastic to see two GAGA supported projects working closely together and taking the opportunity to learn from one another. One of the best ways to learn is through watching others and learning of their experiences. 
Gael from First Step Right said that the teachers from First Step Right were amazed, and have now learnt various ways in which they can improve. 

The Garden keeps on growing...

The Garden keeps on growing...

The Vegetable garden continues to thrive at First Step Right. 

The children take it in turns to water the plants, and have a rota in place so all play a part in maintaining the garden. They share tips with each other on the best way to water, and are learning so much through being involved in the project. It's brilliant that they are so involved, learning invaluable life skills - what a wonderful opportunity for them. 

So far they've harvested spinach and have prepared beetroot, which they will keep aside for their celebratory graduation meal!

First Step Right Vegetable Garden Progress

First Step Right Vegetable Garden Progress

The vegetable garden at First Step Right Low Primary School is looking fantastic!

Xolani from Hillcrest AIDS Centre, recently visited the school to assist the gardener, teachers and children with a few gardening tips! We hope this will keep them motivated to care for the garden, as well as arming them with the knowledge to do so. 

We think it looks great and are so excited to hear about the first crops from the garden being tried and tested. We'll keep you updated!

The first best time to grow a tree is 15 years ago; the next best time is today...

The first best time to grow a tree is 15 years ago; the next best time is today...

A Big Thank you to all involved in the building of the vegetable garden at First Step Right Low Primary School. 

On our recent visit to South Africa, Sarah and Charlie were joined by 9 wonderful volunteers who built a fantastic garden which will provide vegetables to assist the school with supplying nutritional meals to the children. 

It will help in so many more ways too. A gardener has now been employed, meaning one more person is able to earn an income to support her family. The garden will also act as an educational resource for the children. Gael, who helps to run the school, said 'it's educational for the children to see something growing from the ground, it makes them understand 10 times more than what I could explain in classes.' The staff have also made a rota for grades 2, 3 and 4 to help with watering each day, 'you don't have to call them twice to do it'. Grades 3 and 4 are writing each month about the changes they see and are taking photographs to show the results. 

Thank you to the Hlanganani volunteer group from Dingwall Academy, Scotland and to all who donated to help with the garden. The Keith Coombs Trust granted GAGA £500 at the beginning of the year which allowed us to build the fencing (among other things), which is crucial to guard the crops against hungry livestock. 

First Step Right Update

First Step Right Update

After two years of working hard to secure state funding, Gael and the team at First Step Right have succeeded! Today their application was approved which means they should soon receive funding for the school. This is great news that we wanted to share. We will keep you updated on the process. We will be continuing to support First Step Right and look forward to what the future may hold! 

Molding South Africa's future

Molding South Africa's future

First Step Right has a brilliant reputation in it local community and there are many good reasons - why it should! We wanted to share this wonderful video with you. It’s of the Grade 4 class presenting a day in their life at First Step Right, wonderful! Goes to prove why First Step Right has such a wonderful reputation. 

First Step Right visits Natal Museum, PMB

First Step Right visits Natal Museum, PMB

Yesterday, Grade 4 & 5 of First Step Right had one of their first school outings - a rare, but very informative and enjoyable afternoon at the Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg. Gael - who teaches both grades had asked if she could use some of the budget surplus from GAGA funding to make the trip and what a great way to use additional funds.

fsr natal musem 1

DIY – B&Q

DIY – B&Q

As we go into the bank holiday how many of us will be doing a bit of DIY. You know how it goes; there’s a small list of jobs which have built up and you’re going to tackle them this weekend. A quick drive to B&Q, a couple of hours with the power tools, a few quid and then the rest of the afternoon to yourself. Well imagine if you didn’t have a car, a B&Q nearby, no power and a very tight budget and how depressing it would be not to just get the little things fixed. That’s why on Charlie’s recent visit to South Africa we gave ‘First step Right Pre-School’ the funds to just get those things done. In the end all the little jobs added up to a whole days work. But what a pleasure to see how so little can make such a big difference. 

 

Great Results for First Step Right

Great Results for First Step Right

As you may know, First Step Right has always been in jeopardy, as the ownership of the building they are occupying was in question. Firstly this has now been resolved; the abattoir that owned the building has now been sold and the new owners, Frey’s Meats are fully in support of First Step Right.

After lengthy discussion, and correspondence between GAGA and the new owners, they agreed to support First Step Right. After a meeting with them during a project update visit in October 2011, they joined Charlie at the school and it was agreed they would endeavour to renovate the building.

After a false start, at no fault of Frey’s Meats, GAGA or First Step Right, Phase one and two of work has now completed. Initially Frey’s Meats agreed to make the building safe, water tight, more sanitary and repairing the roof, all to be completed in Phase One of the works . The total financial commitment by Frey’s meats to date is R59, 265 (Est. £5,500).

Because of the commitments made by Frey’s meats, the Board of trustees for GAGA decided that they would fund all necessary work not contained in Phase One.  Phase Two which would see more internal works completed including fitting a new solar boiler - possibly two. This means GAGA’s financial contribution towards the renovations totals R87, 080 (Est. £8,000).

GAGA’s contribution has been made up of general funds but also donations and fundraising efforts from dedicated supporters and we are truly grateful for all your help. A special thank you must go to Irene and Cheryl in Brechin, Christine Klaassen in London, The Macknell Trust, Brechin, and many others who have remained committed to the project and understand the complications we have faced.

We are delighted to be working with Frey’s meats. We hope that in the future they will take over the funding of the project, and as such a South African business will be caring for its immediate community, of which there is a desperate need.

We believe this illustrates that GAGA’s work is not just about supporting projects but also encouraging new funders to get involved with specific projects. We committed the funds for Phase Two as we recognised the need to see the school in a better condition, but to also show our continued commitment to Frey’s meats. We believe that is important as we are anxious to maintain a working relationship of equal value, whilst the transition of support continues to ensure a secure future for the school, the project, staff, teachers and most importantly the children.

Graduation – the best ever

Graduation – the best ever

We heard from First Step Right today – they told us all about the graduations of their oldest children.  Apparently it was a fantastic day - Parents, teachers and children all had a wonderful time.

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