Posts in Category: Knysna

What Does “Back to School” Mean in South Africa?


As Fall is speeding by and children are well into their school routines again, we wanted to share an uplifting story about our Collette Cares South Africa project. Through partnership with Knysna Education Trust (KET), we have sponsored the building of a new preschool called Happy Faces – an appropriately named school as the 67 children who attended school there this past year were incredibly happy to have a safe, new environment for learning. This is the third school we have helped to build since beginning our partnership with KET in 2007.​

After a devastating fire at the Church where school was previously held occurred, Principal Elizabeth moved the ‘school’ into her own home for the sake of the children. The dedication of Elizabeth and others to making sure this community had a school after theirs was lost was inspiring. The Community as a whole is committed to the education of their children and has been participating in rebuilding this school.  The community understands that education will help their children by providing more opportunities in their lives.  In many cases, the meal the children receive at school is their only meal that day.

KET believes that “every child deserves at least one good meal a day and the right to a reasonable pre-school care and a competitive preschool education.  All children from the disadvantaged communities will be able to compete equally against the more privileged counterparts once they start attending primary school.”  This initiative is something that Collette Cares has supported since 2007 with over $170,000 in funding used to directly impact approximately 2,250 students through the KET Adopt a Child’s Education, renovating existing schools, adding Blackboards to over 30 schools, Holiday party support, backpack program and building new schools.  Our Spectacular South Africa Tours goes into the townships that KET supports and meets with the students we have helped.  Our guests have also been tremendous in supporting this endeavor while on tour as well as doing fundraisers after the tour.  We are very proud of all that we have been able to accomplish these past eight years and are thrilled to see so many Happy Faces. 

South Africa – Love in Numbers


Imagine changing the lives of 6,879 people who desperately needed it? Well, that’s what we’ve done so far — and we are so excited and inspired to do more!

In the 7 years that we’ve had active projects in South Africa, we have delivered 684 hippo rollers to the village of Kgautswane to make access to clean water easy and safe which has impacted 4,700 people in that community. 


In Knysna, we have provided 30 schools with chalk boards, built 1 preschool and impacted the lives of 1,879 children.

These projects have impacted more than 6,879 people and the numbers keep going up. These are just numbers, yes… but what counts is what these numbers really mean. And to the projects that we help in South Africa, the real impact has been life-changing. And that’s what keeps us going.

Little Rascals School Opening!

The Collette Foundation enthusiastically announces the Little Rascals School, located in South Africa, is officially open! Having worked closely with the Knysna Education Trust, we were able to revamp their initial building and develop a safe, stable and modern establishment through funding. Focusing on Early Childhood Development Centers (ECD), the Knysna Education Trust assists 26 facilities in hopes of providing disadvantaged children with the opportunity to obtain a solid education. Through their support, children receive an integrated education giving them the chance to rightfully benefit and build from their ever-progressing surroundings. Now the children of Little Rascals will be able to participate in preschool activities with a more focused approach due to their motivational atmosphere. We look forward to hearing more about the benefits of the new school!

South Africa Preschool — Construction is Underway

Good progress is being made to date at the Little Rascals Preschool in South Africa — largely in part to the funding of the Collette Foundation — and the school principal and children are very happy and cannot wait to move into the new premises. We are so excited to see the school coming along so quickly.

The focus for this week will be to get the new septic (sewage) tanks ready and finalized. The foundations for the new building, additional classrooms, will also be completed this week. Internal work  also continuing as all of the ceiling boards need to be replaced and the floor needs to be redone.

They have a wonderfully committed team of builders who are excited as well to see the children happy in their new school. The principal is currently accommodating the children in her home, and coping well under the circumstances.  She has been very involved in the upgrade and has been selecting pain colors, choosing wall murals and we are assisting her with Curtaining and other such materials.

Building a School in South Africa


The South African team is working closely with Knysna Educational Trust (KET) on the Little Rascals School.  Currently, the project is underway revamping parts of the current structure; roof cleaning, paint stripping, fixing the floor and a multitude of other task to upgrade the current structure. The Municipal approvals for the new building are in the final stages.  Once these are granted it will be full steam ahead with construction of the new school. During the construction Katie, the principal, has taken all of the children out of the existing building and is running the school from her home. Both Katie and the students are very excited about the new school.

Knysna, South Africa Student Graduates!

I love getting these kinds of letters! And what a great message to begin the week! From my friends at the Kynsna Educational Trust:

Iyema from Noluthando preschool has left and has started Grade 1 at ‘big school’.  Thank you so very much for allowing him the opportunity to be well prepared for Grade.

Zukhanyisa (pronounced ‘zoo-kun-yee-sa’) has been allocated in his place.  He was born in the summer of 2007.  He lives with his parents and siblings in a tiny home. Zukhanyisa is a very active little boy, and enjoys doing numerous activities. He is a bit shy but very excited to start school! Thank you so much for sponsoring his education – know it is so appreciated!”

The Children of Kynsna Are Excelling

I receive updates quite often from our friends at the Knysna Educational Trust on children at preschools in the Knysna Township area, including Isiseko Educare and Noluthando. Through the trust, the Collette Foundation sponsors the education for at-risk children, has funded preschool renovations and provided education to the teachers to create a positive environment for the young children.

The latest news was very uplifting. The children are progressing well, and all meet the developmental requirements for their respective age groups. The preschool at Isiseko was recently gifted with a great set of educational resources including art equipment, musical equipment, math sets, language sets, fantasy clothing, books and toys. The children are happy with the new resources — and the teachers benefit from it as well!

I always enjoy receiving artwork the children make and progress reports that showcase how eager they are to learn and how far they’ve come. These messages are especially warming during the holidays.

Artwork from one of the students benefitting from the Knysna Educational Trust and Collette Foundation.

South African Bakery – Open for Business!


After nearly two years, ‘Rosie’s Bakery’ is open for business!! The bakery is located in the township of Khayelitsha, home to over 1 million residents, just outside of Cape Town. A GIANT thank you to Christine and Vanessa Sullivan who represented the Collette Foundation at the opening. After only 3 weeks of baking, Rosie’s bakery is already feeding many in need and selling breads to the local community.

The bakery plans were developed by Dan Leader and Neil Ratner of SAWGBP - South African Whole Grain Bread Project. Their plan consists of building a container bakery that can produce a nutritious bread to feed those in need in the local community and also be sold to create a steady revenue stream. After 18 months, the hope is that the bakery will be fully self- sustained, selling enough breads to cover expenses. Rosie’s bakery is the second bakery built by SAWGBP.

Christine and Vanessa where able to spend time with Rosie, participate in the bakery opening, and see the bakery in action! Here are some of their reflections:

Khayelitsha, the township where the bakery is located, is one of the most marginalized and poverty-stricken townships in South Africa. The township has a population of over 1 million residents with over 50% of the population unemployed and over 27% of the population HIV positive. There is estimated to be over 14,000 orphaned children. Driving into Khayelitsha is like driving into a completely different world: “houses” made of scrap metal or junk-wood line the streets, electrical wires hang from every which direction and, porter potties are clustered in designated refuse areas. Those who do not live in Khayelitsha seem to almost fear it because it is so contrasting to the rest of the modern, metropolitan city of Cape Town.

Within this township is what locals call a safe haven known as “Baphumelele.” Baphumelele was started by Rosalia Mashale (“Rosie”) in 1989. Rosie is a remarkable women and to listen to her story is humbling; this all started for her when an infant was left on her doorstep and she knew she had to care for it. Quickly word got out and more children were left. With the help of a group of women from the community she began looking after these unsupervised children and after the first week had 36 children. Rosie is so grateful to the Collette Foundation for assisting with the funding to make the dream of this Bakery into a reality. It will mean not only jobs, but a supply of bread to help feed those in the community. Rosie runs a Kitchen (what we would think of as a food pantry), an EduCare Center, an Orphanage, a Woodworking Shop, an Aids Respite Center and now her most recent addition: the Bakery. 

We were able to see all of Rosie’s centers and got to spend some additional time with the children in the orphanage,  however, most of our time in Baphumelele was spent at the Bakery. SAWGBP has consulted with many experts in the fields of nutrition and HIV/AIDS in the U.S and South Africa to come up with the best formula for SAWGBP bread. Dan, being a Baker by trade, has developed bread that is not only nutritious, but also delicious! It is a blend of South African whole wheat, soy, cornmeal, seeds, and nutritional supplements, and serves as a valuable source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids which these children desperately need.

We were able to spend time with the bakers, who have been hired and trained, and are all from the Khayelitsha Township. They were excited and eager to learn their new trade and give back to their community. The bakery is all within a mobile container unit, much like one of the Pod Storage units you see around here. The Container is clean and organized – a state of the art production line, simple yet geared for high yield output.  Dan Leader worked with the bakers for only two days before the bakery opening and the bakers were making loaves of bread like pros by opening day. The bread came out perfect; this is definitely the best bread I have tasted while in South Africa. It tastes like something one would expect from an Artisan style Bakery here in the States.

 The bakery opening itself was a wonderful experience. Many of the local community members came out to celebrate the event; there was singing and heartwarming speeches made by Rosie, Dan Leader,  the Off the Mat and Into the World group (who shared in the funding of the bakery), of course us on behalf of the Collette Foundation and even the Mayor of Cape Town. The Collette Foundation was thanked time and time again for its contributions to the project and everyone was so pleased we came all the way from the United States for the opening! All of the donations made prior to the opening and on the opening day itself will go to operating the bakery, and it is planned that in 18 months the bakery will be bringing in a profit, making donations to local organizations, and be all-and-all self-sustaining.

It was very gratifying to see and be apart of a project that was making such a positive impact on so many lives, and for people who where truly thankful for the help. The Collette Foundation should be very proud of how these funds were used.

Christine and Vanessa also visited the Collette Foundation project at the Knysna Educational Trust – stay tuned for their story and photos!

YouTube Preview Image

Siyafunda School – third refurbishment complete in Knysna

Just a few weeks ago the opening of the new Siyafunda School was celebrated in Knysna. Siyafunda represents the third school to be fully renovated with funds from the Collette Foundation since the partnership began in 2007. The employee team is looking forward to their next school project in 2011.

The total refurbishment is really better described as a re-build. The new school was constructed from the ground up - here are some early photos, taken back in August.

The school is now complete and provides a wonderful place for learning and play! Somewhere that the students, teachers and community can be proud of!

A few weeks prior to the opening a group of Collette employees and passengers were on hand for a visit to Knysna – they were able to take some great photos and video footage – take a peek!

YouTube Preview Image

Reflections from South Africa Part #2

Pam’s reflections continue, this time from her visit to the Knysna Educational Trust, the Collette Foundation’s second project in South Africa.

A visit to a local township during our stay in Knysna was truly a memorable and heartwarming experience.  The Collette Foundation has been committed to working with the Knysna Foundation in improving the lives of preschool children.

We witnessed the progress firsthand when we were greeted by the children and their teachers in their new school.  The Knysna Foundation is dedicated to helping preschool children by providing them with nutrition and a caring, educational environment.  A generous donation of school supplies were given by the Collette tour participants.  It was a small gift compared to the endearing smiles we received in return.

More work in still in store for the Collette Foundation as we continue to help make a difference. Try to picture 66 children napping on burlap floor mats. 

Let’s unite together and get this school rebuilt next.