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The Protea Project is currently working closely with two after school programmes and are in the process of fundraising for a librarian position at an underprivileged school, St. Paul's Primary School in the Bo-Kaap, Cape Town.

Sakhiziwe Youth Development Programme

"We are building a nation by preparing our young people to overcome the challenges of adolescence and adulthood and achieve their full potential. We believe they are the leaders who will shape the future of our country, South Africa. All young people need a variety of experiences to develop their full potential, as well as family support and other adults that believe in them."


- Mhinti Pato

Based in Imizamo Yethu (see the About Us page for more information) Sakhiziwe Youth Development Programme is a registered non-profit founded by Mhinti Pato. Sakhisizwe provides mentorship and leadership support to young people (13-25 years). They run an after-school programme that offers academic support, sports development, life skills training, spiritual discussions and entrepreneurship training.


Mhinti explained that after working with NGOs helping younger children, she recognized that there was little support for children after finishing primary school. Arguably, these teenage years are some of the most critical times to intervene with positive reinforcement in young people's lives. She was determined to give them a space to go after school and get the emotional, academic and social support they needed more than ever. Mhinti has created an inspiring programme focusing on sports (including swimming, important in a country where on average, one child dies every day from drowning), life skills, math and literacy, as well as an at-home family support programme. She established a mentoring system so programme graduates can act as role models for the younger students. Life skills include a new recycling programme on Thursdays where students gather to clean up their neighbourhood. They also take special outings and work on staff skills and training.

Sakhiziwe has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. In previous years, Mhinti raised funds by taking overseas tourists on tours in Imizamo Yethu. Funds have dried up and the youth programme is at risk of having to cut back on the extra murals they offer the kids. It costs about 22 CAD for a teenager to attend Sakhiziswe Youth Development Programme for one week. 

The Protea Project aims to run a nutrition programme at Sakhiziswe. We work closely with a local community chef, Mama Miriam, to design and provide a nutritious and welcoming meal to each child 6 days every week. 

For more information on this organisation, please visit:

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The Ubuntu Centre

Pathiswa Ngcuka, affectionately known as Mama Pat, runs the Ubuntu Centre which operates as an early childhood education centre during the day, and is a second home to dozens of students every day after school. Covid-19 severely impacted the centre as they lost international volunteers and had to shut down several times. Most days, Mama Pat cooks and cares for the children herself and relies on the older kids to help.


The Protea Project has worked with Mama Pat to establish a structured after school programme. In this community, only 35% of those aged 20 or older have completed Grade 12, and unemployment is over 30%. The After-School Club runs from 3pm to 5pm Monday to Friday during the school terms. It focuses on supporting over 30 children grades one to nine. Each day the children get help with different areas of learning, including English, maths, spelling, life skills and literacy. We also helped implement a youth mentor role where we have hired four unemployed youth from the community to come and teach and support our students.


South Africa is in the midst of a literacy crisis. A study from 2016 showed that 78% of Grade 5 students in South Africa have not developed basic reading skills required for learning (compared to 6% as the international standard). Few children from disadvantaged townships have books at home and libraries are often not accessible. 74% of public schools do not have a library. 60% of households do not own a leisure reading book, while only 5% of parents read to their children. One of the future goals of the Protea Project is to provide a small library of quality books for the students to learn from after school. 


"Thank you, every little bit will help. We are focusing on feeding because we are on level 4 (of Covid lockdown) and thank you because we wouldn't have this warm place without you"

- Pathiswa Ngcuka

St. Paul's Primary School

St. Paul's Primary School is located in central Cape Town in a neighbourhood called The Bo-Kaap. The majority of the students who attend this school arrive from the Cape Flats, often waking up at 4:30am to catch the transport to school. This is a government school and is severely under-resourced. It has 534 learners, most of whose parents earn a menial wage and struggle to pay the school fees which are used to sustain the running of the school. An NGO build a beautiful school library stocked with lots of books. However, the school has been unable to afford a librarian (approximately 5000 ZAR per month). As a result, the learners of this school do not have access to the books or the library.


The Protea Project is currently raising funds to hire a full-time librarian. We will work in partnership with St. Pauls and The Bookery to find an appropriate candidate. South Africa is in a literacy crisis evinced by the often quoted statistic that only 18% of students in Grade 4 can "read for meaning". An estimated 60% of households in South Africa do not have any books at home. Ashley currently assists a remedial reading program at St. Pauls with a small group of children who have access to the library and can attest to the enthusiasm and worlds of knowledge opened when students have access to these books. It is our goal to commit to St. Paul's that we can fund a librarian for at least two years. 

Siyazama Pre-School 

We helped Siyazama Pre-School with much needed upgrades in 2022.

Based in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, Siyazama school was founded in 1995, and the current principal, Funisile Cele, joined in 2012. They feed 85 learners a day. They operate from 7 am until 5 pm five days a week and during school holidays. The centre currently has eight staff members. They cook meals for the children, including porridge in the morning and pasta, samp and beans, veggies and rice with soya in the afternoon. The parents pay 400 Rands per month (about $35CAD) for their kids to attend the daycare. However, for many months parents are unable to pay. Half of the staff were at home sick the day I visited, leaving four adults to care for seventy kids under the age of six. Funisile is currently in her third year of study for her Grade R Teaching Diploma at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

When we visited Siyazama we saw the toilets were constantly leaking, and the children's playground was in a state of disrepair. We found a local builder who fixed the pluming and ensured the playground safe for the children.

The children were also in need of new mattresses (which cost about 20 CAD each) for napping as theirs were torn and damaged. The Protea Project helped by sending 20 new mattresses to the creche.

""Everything is sorted. The toilet also is perfect. I will sleep good all the time I was thinking about who can help us to fix Siyazama Educare Centre. Thank you very much Ashley and  your good friends."

- Funisle Cele

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