About Edu Fun

edufun

Edu Fun is a volunteer-led, non-profit organisation (069-772-NPO) working with the Diepsloot Combined School in the township of Diepsloot on the northern outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa.

We were established in 2003 at the request of the school principal at the time, Veronica Kgabo. Our main objective is to teach English to Grade 2 & 3 students in a fun and interesting way, and to awaken their curiosity in the outside world. Other roles include mending school uniforms and performing basic health checks to identify problems with the children’s eyesight and teeth.

Within the group we have key members who are experienced teachers and nursing professionals. Our volunteers come from all walks of life – locals, ex pats and visitors from around the world. Lord Joel Joffe, the late human rights lawyer who defended Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and seven others in the Rivonia Trial of 1963-64, was our Patron for many years.

As a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930036948), Edu Fun can issue tax deductible receipts for donations. Our organisers and volunteers give their time free of charge, so all money donated goes towards our worthwhile endeavours. Our funds are used for teaching materials and school supplies; health checks and medical expenses; materials for mending torn uniforms; as well as educational and social activities, such as trips to the zoo and student graduations. We also support matriculants from Diepsloot Combined School who go on to varsity.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Edu Fun or funding our various activities, please call Jenny Taylor on 082 322 0608.
 
The Edu Fun educational programme at Diepsloot Combined School was started by Avril Donnelly, Petra Michelson and Sandy and Miguel Buchwald, an American couple who have now retired back in the USA.
 
Avril Donnelly – Founder and Retired Chairperson

“After having stopped work (I was a PA most of my working life) I was looking for something to do in the charity field.  Petra and I decided to do a training course to teach children who come from underprivileged homes. Whilst on the course we met Sandy Buchwald and after the final session we had discussions about what we should do with everything we had learnt. Sandy had previously met Veronica Kgabo who at that stage was the principal of DCS, and she said she would discuss the idea of teaching Grade 3 students English.  We decided on Grade 3 as according to the Department of Education all children were to be taught in the mother tongue until the end of Grade 2 and then English from Grade 3 onwards. Veronica was thrilled with the idea and we started the programme in April of 2003.

“A few years after starting with the Grade 3s we were asked by Veronica if we could also teach Grade 4.  We could not do this as we do not have enough volunteers.  We then decided that we would teach fifteen Grade 4 students as well. Each year we identify fifteen of the Grade 3 students that we have taught and give them the additional lessons in Grade 4. This seems to be working really well and one of the things on my wish list would be to have enough volunteers to teach both grades… maybe one day!

“We have taught about 1,100 children over the years and the first group that we taught in 2003 matriculated in 2013.  It really gives me a sense of satisfaction. I can only say that through this programme I have met some wonderful expats (both men and women) who have helped us with the teaching, nursing, 'Spread a little Love' and mending groups.  The nursing group was started by a group of Swedish ladies, led by Maria Junebrink, who didn’t want to teach but wanted to give to the community. It has gone from strength to strength. I love what we are doing with Edu Fun and it has really become a passion in my life.”

Avril retired in 2016 and handed over the baton to Jenny Taylor who has taken over the leadership of Edu Fun since January 2017.


Jenny Taylor - Chairperson

I have run a company called Read For Africa since 2000 which was started as the vehicle to bring the Phono-Graphix Reading method to South Africa having had great results whilst working and travelling in the UK and USA in 1998 and 1999. I completed a Master degree in Adult Education where my research focused on "Exploring the Phono-Graphix Reading and Spelling method in a South African context". This involved training teachers as well as working with young adult learners with learning difficulties and for whom English was a second language. 

In 2012, I was introduced to Monica Sloane and the St Peter's School Outreach Programme and the work that they do in Diepsloot. This led to Read For Africa getting very involved with Diepsloot Combined and Sefikeng Schools for the next 4 years where we worked with the teachers, volunteers and learners in both the Foundation and Intermediate Phases. This introduction also led to me being introduced to Avril and Edu Fun in 2016.

I was very excited to find out about Edu Fun and the movement that Avril has created and together with her army of volunteers have not only contributed to the betterment of the children at Diepsloot Combined School but have also had an impact on the larger Diepsloot community.

Avril retired at the end of 2016 and offered the leadership of Edu Fun to me. A responsibility and opportunity that I knew I could not refuse.

As a result I’ve entered a family of amazing leaders and volunteers - both local and ex-pat and have this wonderful opportunity to continue to build on Avril’s legacy as well as continue to help teach Africa to read.

 Petra Michelson, one of the founder members remains our treasurer and continues to do the books and we welcome Jeanne Kuhr- Madinane who has also joined the committee in 2017.

Petra Michelson - Treasurer
 
“My name is Petra Michelson.  I was born in Johannesburg as one of the baby boomers. After finishing my High School education I went to study in Pretoria and qualified as a school teacher.  I taught for 15 years and then joined my husband in his business. I gained valuable management and financial skills over this period.

“In 2003 Avril, Sandy and I started doing voluntary work at Diepsloot School. It did not take me long to dust off my tutoring skills and to get back into teaching the little ones the basic educational building blocks so vital for a child’s school career.

“When we started teaching, the volunteers funded all the books, pencils and other stationery needs for the children.  We also provided them with a snack after class. After numerous offers from people who wanted to donate to our cause it became necessary to formally register Edu Fun as a non-profit organisation (NPO). These funds are now used for teaching materials, educational movies and field trips.

“We had a great break at another charity function that I attended when I was seated next to a CEO of a major building material supplier in South Africa. Once I explained our project he asked me to contact him so that he could donate building materials to our project. The result was that many new classrooms were built.

“I write up the books monthly and prepare a set of accounts that are inspected annually by a Chartered Accountant. If anyone wants a copy of the Accounts they are available via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "

Jeanne Kuhr-Madinane
I am American and emigrated to South Africa with my husband in 1997.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Masters course work in Social Research for the Behavioral Sciences.  I had been doing a variety of volunteer work in South Africa and was introduced to Avril through a mutual friend in 2013.  I began volunteering with Edu Fun assisting Avril with the third grade English lessons. 
Another volunteer, Sue Huck, asked me to assist her with the Further Education Project that she had recently initiated.  We have since assisted 50+ Diepsloot Combined students to attend university by fulfilling a variety of needs from clothing, laptops, books, bedding and towels, cell phones, and a monthly stipend.  We have found that the students require just a little extra help to put them on a level playing field with their more privileged counterparts.  I am stunned by how much the Edu Fun team has been able to accomplish in such a few short years!

Over the years, countless people have discovered that volunteering with Edu Fun can be a very rewarding experience. Here are but a few…

Sue Huck
“I began volunteering with Edu Fun in July 2012. I was very apprehensive at first, as I don’t have any children of my own and had no previous experience of teaching. Also, I’m based in the UK and only in Joburg for a few weeks at a time. However, I found none of that mattered. After my first visit to the school, I realised that all kinds of skills are needed, which inspired me to help create this website (I’m a freelance copywriter). I’m so glad I plucked up the courage to call Avril. I can honestly say that volunteering with Edu Fun is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done - especially now that I'm involved with the new Further Education Project, helping to support varsity students from Diepsloot. It just goes to show that if you identify a need, with Edu Fun, you can do something about it that really does change lives!”
 
Rose

“Wherever I've lived I have always enjoyed volunteering for educational programmes especially for infants school aged children. The children at Diepsloot are very endearing and our presence alone seems to mean a lot to them. Even though we only help a small number I am sure that the work we do really accelerates their learning. We might not be able to help them all but volunteering with Edu Fun means we can all do a little, one child at a time. An added bonus is the affection the children display - there's always a lot of hugging at the end of the lessons!”

Justin

“I was really nervous about going to the school with mum (Rose), but I enjoyed it so much I'm now volunteering with an after school programme through my school. I hope I can get a chance to go back to see the kids at Diepsloot.”

Helen

"I moved to Joburg in November 2013 and started to volunteer at Diepsloot Combined School soon after.  It's been a fantastic way to meet people and see a bit of South Africa, whilst at the same time feeling like I've made a difference.  It's such an easy way to 'give something back' so to speak.  I have no teaching experience but everyone has something to offer, whether it's teaching English with grades 3 & 4, helping with further education or mending uniforms.  The best part for me is that I've really got to know my group of kids now.  I miss them if I don't see them for a week.  They even made me 'mothers day' cards in May.  I almost crumbled!"

Peter & Sylvia

"We came to South Africa in May 2014 to visit our daughter who has been volunteering for Edu Fun.  As such we were lucky enough to be able to spend two mornings at Diepsloot Combined School.  What a great experience!  It was fantastic to see first hand the great work Edu Fun has been doing.  The kids were a joy, and really interested in what they were doing.  Plus going into Diepsloot was no concern at all, even for a couple of doddery old timers like us!"

Meriel

"I have been helping the teaching program in Diepsloot on a Tuesday morning since 2011 and have really enjoyed the interaction with the children in Grade 4. It is rewarding to see the improvement these enthusiastic learners make over the year and interesting to get to know the different little personalities. I am a local, ex teacher who hasn't taught for many years. I live in Dainfern which is very conveniently situated to Diepsloot and it's a tiny and enjoyable way of giving a little back."

Line

"For many in South African townships healthcare can not often be a priority, or isn't even a possibility. This is why we have put together a health program for the students in the Diepsloot Combined School. All of us who take part in the program are volunteers, while some of us have experience in healthcare and nursing. It doesn't matter if you are an accountant or a doctor, your help is needed and appreciated! We perform a general examination on the children, and check their eyesight as well as teeth. Following the examination and after determining which of the children need to see a doctor or an optician, we try to make sure all those children in the need of attention are given the proper care. Participating in the health project is incredibly rewarding. Some of the children have serious health issues while others are completely well, but all of their spirits are lifted by the attention and interest given to them, and they are all happy to feel that someone cares.”

Donna

"My husband’s job required us to relocate to Johannesburg, South Africa in December of 2011. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to live in another part of the world and experience a different life style. It took some time for us to get adjusted to the new country. Phil had his job to occupy his days during the week and on weekends we explored South Africa. We did some hiking in Gauteng and visited Kruger National Park. The wildlife was amazing! After these travels I found that something was missing for me. I needed something to do during the day. I had met a few of the wives of men that my husband worked with and they told me of some of the things they did. Finally someone invited me to go to The Combined School at Diepsloot to work with the children. I had left my job back in Kansas as a teacher and felt like this might be something I would enjoy. This could be the opportunity to fill the gap that had been missing for me.

"Diepsloot is one of the townships nearby so I thought this might be a way to give back to the children. At first I was apprehensive about going into the townships. I was a bit intimidated and frightened that safety might be a problem. I found that precautions were taken and it was safe to venture into the township in a group. Also, something kept telling me that helping the children had to be a priority. By being a native English speaker I would be able to help them with their grammar, reading and writing.

"The Edu Fun Program is so nice that anyone with a desire to help is definitely qualified to get involved. The children really seem to thrive in small groups. The more adults there are the smaller the groups are and that means more individual attention, and what child doesn’t love individual attention? The students are eager to learn and willing to work hard.

"I have really enjoyed working with these students. They are very polite young people and appreciate that we are there to help them. The staff at the school is also very appreciative of the volunteers. With this kind of cooperative teaching everyone benefits. I feel truly blessed that I became involved in the Edu Fun Program. It is so rewarding to see the students tackle an assignment and feel good about their accomplishments. It is also a pleasure to see them smile. Through the Edu Fun Program I have been given the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of some of the children in South Africa. Even if it is one child, it makes a difference."

John

"I loved going to Diepsloot Combined School. It was so great to go and teach these kids. Even though I am only a young teenager, I enjoyed doing this and I felt safe. The kids are so good with English, even though they are just learning it. And they are so smart and well-behaved. I had fun teaching them about phonics and hygiene. I would recommend this to all kids my age!"

Jacqueline

“Because of my husband's job we moved to Jo'burg in October 2011. This isn't our first posting abroad, but this is my first posting without having a job. My children are all grown up and currently working in the Netherlands so I am not as busy at home as before. I like to be occupied with various activities and a friend told me about the possibility of helping with charity work. I am a schoolteacher, but since English is not my language and there are a lot of native speaking ladies doing a great job, I cannot fill any teaching position at Diepsloot School. However, I heard that there was a health programme as well and I was quite interested to assist. The health programme consists of eye check-ups, weight and height measurements and, afterwards, the kids have a chat with the other ladies about their home situation. For instance whether they have breakfast and dinner at home, any physical difficulties or family problems. If they are in need of glasses, we take them to Spec-Savers. They examine the kids professionally and, if they do need a pair of glasses, we are able to supply them with the help of our sponsors. We also have some nurses available to help the children with minor injuries. It is great to be able to help the kids at Diepsloot. Especially when you realise how lucky you are with the circumstances you've grown up with yourself.”

Eva

“I started to help out at Diepsloot Combined School the week after I arrived in South Africa. A Norwegian friend of mine told me about it and I decided it was a good thing to do and also to see and learn about SA and the conditions in the townships. I was never afraid to go there and when I met the very sweet students in Grade 3 and how much they appreciated our presence I thought it was very worthwhile. It’s great fun so I would recommend everyone to help out!”

Lee

“Although I live in the UK and have never been to Diepsloot, when my friend and colleague, Sue, told me about the plight of the children and how Edu Fun are striving to give them a better future, I volunteered to build a website for them straight away. Having been to a few townships when visiting South Africa on holiday, I was pleased to be able to help make a difference by helping them spread the word about their worthwhile projects.”

Mary

“My name is Mary Campbell Stoneley. I arrived in South Africa in 2010 from Canada and instantly fell in love with Africa. This is my third year with Edu Fun and I now have the privilege of being a teacher. The students are so inquisitive and eager to learn. You can make a difference in these children's lives.  Education is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child and it's so rewarding to spend time teaching the children. I encourage newcomers to Joburg to try out a lesson with Edu Fun!”

Julie

“Several volunteers endeavour to get together each week to help mend school uniforms.  The children are required to wear a uniform to school.  For some children, this is the only change of clothes they own, so the uniforms can get pretty worn out.  We help the students to look their best by replacing buttons, fixing zippers, reinforcing worn collars and patching knees and elbows on trousers and cardigans.  Those who own sewing machines bring them to use while others mend by hand.”
 
Pamela

“I am a primary teacher from the UK and wanted to share my expertise here in Johannesburg to help 'make a difference'. I learnt about Edu Fun from the International Women's Club. The lessons are prepared by a small team before each term then emailed weekly to the team of volunteers. The more helpers the smaller the groups and therefore a greater opportunity for the children to use and develop their spoken English. The lessons are practical and fun. It is amazing to watch the children's progress over the school year and wonderful to be able to build a trusting relationship with them week by week. They are so affectionate! Initially it was reassuring for me to know that we went into the township together. Volunteering in Diepsloot, through Edu fun, has definitely been one of the main highlights of my time here in Joburg!”

Cecilia

“I am Korean Swedish, from Stockholm. Before we came to South Africa I had been living and working for myself and my family, my husband and my children. However, there was always something inside of me that wanted to do something good and meaningful for others. We came to South Africa in August 2008 and one day I was at a PPT meeting in the American International School when another mom told me about volunteering at Diepsloot Combined School. I started to help at the school the following month and this is now my 5th year. Even though my mother tongue is not English, I feel happy that I can be of help. Every time I visit the school I get a lot of joy and happiness from the lovely children and enjoy meeting other teachers who share the same philosophy. While I’m in Joburg I will continue to support them.”

Shelley

“I decided to volunteer in Diepsloot as a way to give back to the local community and to meet others after my husband and I moved to SA from the USA. I was shocked beyond repair after driving past Diepsloot and when I heard of an opportunity to help others, I jumped on it. I have no teaching experience, so I was a bit nervous at first, oh and I have no children… However, the group was very welcoming and relaxed. If you can read, speak, and write English you are huge asset. Trust me, after one session of seeing the sweet smiles from the children and receiving unconditional hugs, you will go back for more!”

Sibylle

"I love volunteering at the Diepsloot School. The first time I was a bit scared because I didn’t know what to expect and I had no experience in teaching! As soon as I arrived all the fear was gone – the kids welcomed me so nicely. After all these hugs it was sure for me to go back!"

Marianna

“I knew as soon as we were relocated to Johannesburg I wanted to volunteer, then I was introduced to Edu Fun and how in so many ways they help kids in the township. So I jumped at the chance. That was around November 2009. WOW, I've never looked back. It has been the most rewarding and humbling experience. The kids are the best!

"In July 2012 we left Johannesburg to return to the UK, which was very sad. Saying goodbye was really hard but I take with me a lot of fantastic memories. The team at Edu Fun are an inspiration for all they do.”

To find out more, call Jenny on 082 322 0608.
Visit Edu Fun's Facebook page.