Mission airmen making 8 800km mini trip for rural kids

On a mission
Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, Mark Liprini (left), aircraft mechanic, Christo Stander, and Pumba their trusty [hopefully!] mini, are preparing for an 8 800 km return trip to raise funds for much-needed early childhood development initiatives in rural Limpopo.

What do a 32 year old car, a 33 year old aircraft engineer, a 54 year old pilot, four international borders, an 8 800 km return trip and a 4 year old child in the rural Vhembe District of Limpopo have in common?

This unlikely team of car, engineer and pilot are embarking on an 8 800 km return trip from Johannesburg to Kenya to raise funds and awareness for the many preschool children in the rural Vhembe District of Limpopo who have minimal, if any, chance at a decent preschool education.

Remote
According to the Limpopo Provincial Government, the Vhembe District of Limpopo is located in one of the most remote parts of South Africa. There are 644 866 children in the 0-4  year age group living in the district with only 17 % having access to early childhood development (ECD) services in 2012/13.

Most crèches in this district are simple mud structures with unsafe kitchen facilities and unsanitary toilets and the majority have to accommodate an average of 50 children.

According to Maxine Holman, Managing Director of Mission Aviation Fellowship and Flying for Life, most of the children who attend the crèches aren’t being taught the fundamental skills nor are they developing according to their age group. “Unfortunately the crèche teachers haven’t received formal training and therefore do not know how to plan a lesson or teach the children,” says Holman.

Mission Aviation Fellowship volunteer Chimwemwe Calawe shows children how to use educational toys.
Mission Aviation Fellowship volunteer Chimwemwe Calawe shows children in rural Limpopo, how to use educational toys.

In a report by Children Now, 2011 the Department of Social Development and Education spends less than 2% of government funding on children aged five and younger. Research conducted by Rob Grunewald and Arthur J Rolnick for “Early Childhood Development (ECD): Economic Development with a High Public Return” revealed that focussed investment into ECD programmes yields an extraordinary return, far exceeding the return on most investments. Investment in ECD breeds economic success, not only in terms of those beneficiaries being educated; the ECD work force being trained and supported, and children provided with quality ECD stimulation and programming, but also for the overall economy as a whole. This economic success is the basis for a reduction in poverty and inequality.

Teacher Training Centre
Flying for Life is looking at ways to combat the growing issue of the lack of teacher training and continue investing in ECD programmes by starting a Teacher Training Centre. “In partnership with Love Trust and the Tshikundamalema Trust, a tribal authority in the Vhembe District, a Teacher Training Centre will be set up in the Sagole community where training will take place on a weekly basis and all materials supplied by Love Trust are SAQA (South African Qualification Authority) approved. Upon successful completion of the 18 – 24 month course each teacher will be qualified to teach Early Childhood Development,” says Holman.

A project such as this requires a large amount of funding and campaigns to create awareness for the need of a Teacher Training Centre.  Mark Liprini, a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, will be heading the 8 800kmreturn trip from Johannesburg to Kenya in his 1982 classic Mini to raise funds and awareness for the project. Whilst in Kenya Liprini will be acting as a relief pilot on the MAF – Kenya and MAF – South Sudan programmes for 6 weeks before he makes the journey back to South Africa. “I am very excited about this trip and the ability to raise awareness for the need of a Teacher Training Centre in Vhembe Limpopo.  Research shows that 85% of brain development occurs during the first five years of a child’s life and by equipping the teachers properly, Flying for Life will assist in transforming the lives of both the children and teachers. ” says Liprini.

“As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world’ and for the children in the Vhembe district of Limpopo this is where the change can begin,” concludes Holman.

If you or your company would like to get involved in Mark Liprini’s fundraising journey please contact Esther Tredoux on info@flyingforlife.co.za

Various advertising sponsorship options are available on the mini. For more info Esther Tredoux on info@flyingforlife.co.za.
Various advertising sponsorship options are available on the mini. For more info Esther Tredoux on info@flyingforlife.co.za.

Comments are closed.