Oranjehof Residence of Hopetown,
Oranjehof Residence is a youth hostel which provides living accommodations to students grades 1-12 that are attending the Hopetown school. These students are from families that own farms in the vast rural Great Karoo of South Africa. Hopetown is a small town lying on the banks of the Oranje River that mostly consists of farmers and small local businesses that support the farm community. The hostel currently hosts about 60 students. These 60 students play a very important role in the existence of the school that has about 300 children grade 1 to 12. Without the 60 students Hopetown school would be in danger of closing.
Most farms on the Karoo as well as other areas of South Africa, are too far away from towns and cities where the schools lie. In some cases, it can be a 1-2-hour drive. 20-30 years ago, there were more schools throughout the region however the ever-changing fiscal situation has caused many to close. This has triggered families to look further away for schools to send their children to. The staff of Hopetown school work very hard in keeping the school up to academic standards. Last year Hopetown school had the second highest senior results in all the Northern Cape Province. Hopetown school is a public funded school and gets funding from the South African government. The government funding is not enough to support the entire operational costs of the school. Families are required to pay tuition to cover the shortage. Some families in the hostel can not afford to pay the full tuition and are supported by donations from other farm families.
The hostels receive some funding for a portion of the staff salaries. The tuition covers the basic needs of the hostel’s daily operation; however, it leaves little for physical improvements of deterioration that has occurred over the years.
The hostel has its own staff of nine. There is a “house mom”, lead cook and support personal. The house mom helps the kids with homework, oversee playtime, and meal time. She really becomes their “Mom” away from home. She is there to comfort them when they are sad and miss home. At night she tucks them in. Her room is close to the little ones in case they need anything.
The hostel is in dire need of repairs.
We, as family members associated with the hostel, are seeking donations to fund several improvements. The improvements would help raise the standards of living at the hostel and thus provide the kids a better environment to live and learn in. The children in the hostel are away from their families Monday through Friday. It is especially hard on the lower grades. Imagine being 6 years old and living away from your parents. With some basic improvements the hostel would be a nicer place for the children to stay during the week.
Sister’s Loudine (Botha) Byleveld, who’s kids live at the hostel and Lo-ami (Botha) Knox who grew up in the hostel in Britstown, are overseeing the projects and associated expenses. We have taken on these projects without any assistance or involvement with the South African government. A full report of which will be available to any donors.
Loudine and Casper’s farm Kareehoek, is about an hour away from Hopetown. It is the farm she and Lo-ami grew up on as kids while attending the Bristown hostel. Loudine and her husband Casper are financially taking on some of the smaller projects on their own to start the improvement process. They purchased the paint and paid the workers. Loudine has started making new drapes for the lunch room windows where there are none. This will help keep this non-air-conditioned room cooler during the hot summer months.
Listed below are the projects and amounts we estimate for each.
Phase One Projects 2019:
Hot water system: Due to the age and condition of the current boiler system, it is unable to provide enough hot water for all the children to have warm showers and baths. This repair is our priority as we would like to complete it before the start of winter in June of 2019.
Bathrooms: there are 2 bathrooms on the girl’s side and 2 on the boy’s side. Paint is peeling and in need of scraping and re-painting. The floors have broken tiles which need replacement and the plumbing needs to be refurbished.
Beds: The beds are old and worn and in need of replacement.
Painting of interior rooms and drapes for bedrooms
General Structure Repairs:
Kitchen Air Conditioner Replacement:
Electrical panel upgrade:
The costs of the projects are shown in U.S. dollars. The current South African Rand vs. Dollar is approximately 14-1. Labor costs are very reasonable and help keep the local work force employed. As you can see the U.S. dollar goes a long way and we can accomplish a lot with a little.
Phase Two 2020:
The state of electrical service in South Africa is poor. Years of no forward planning have left severe shortages and resulted in rising costs. At present many areas of the country are subject to “Load Sheding” this means ESKOM the South African Electrical supplier, shuts off your service for 3-4 hours per day. Hopetown school gets shut off in the late afternoon into the evening. This is when the kids need lighting for study time. Currently during these blackouts, the kids use candles and flashlights.
Our solution is two pronged. First, we would purchase and install a back up diesel generator that would power up automatically when ESKOM shuts the power off. Many Karoo farms use these today.
Secondly convert the school to as much solar energy as possible. This investment would help reduce the annual electrical cost and in the long run be good for the school.
I should mention that due to the remoteness where Karoo farms are, many have no electrical service today. The increase in solar energy technology over the last decade has made a big difference to the Karoo farmer and is widely used. On Kareehoek where Lo-ami & Loudine grew up they did not have electricity until their high school years. Both of their brothers are on farms that do not have electrical service today.
Estimates for this will be forth coming as we focus on the Phase One 2019 projects.
We thank you for your consideration of donations for the welfare of the next generation of Karoo Farmers,
Loudine (Botha) Byleveld
Lo-ami (Botha) Knox
Paul S. Knox
- Anya Harrison
- Dale Bityk
- Jean Durand
- Caroline Burfield
Pompano Beach, FL