A group of volunteers working with some of the children at Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng (image: Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng Facebook)A little gift can go a long way to changing someone’s life, as has been demonstrated time and again by Mama Asnath Teffo, the founder of Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng in the township of Olievenhoutbosch.Meaning “little gifts of home” in Setswana, Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng has helped hundreds of children and their families in the township, just outside of Midrand in Gauteng, by giving them the care and support they needed after the loss of their parents, or because of poverty.Fourteen years ago Asnath, or Mama-Assie as she is affectionately known by the community, moved from nearby Noordwyk to Olievenhoutbosch with her family, bringing her passion for improving the lives of others closely in tow.When she arrived in Olievenhoutbosch the area was dominated by shacks and other informal housing, before the RDP houses that dominate the landscape today were built. Here she became aware of the need to intervene and help those around her who were struggling because of the circumstances they found themselves in.Knowing she couldn’t battle all of life’s misfortunes she prioritised the care of destitute women and children, taking orphaned or abandoned youngsters into her home to raise among her own children.Mama-Assie has invested countless hours of her time and a huge amount of her resources in the improvement of the lives of those around her. She has put a particular focus on the young people having to grow up facing challenging situations such as child-headed homes.THE RECYCLING SWOP SHOPAs part of Diphonyana’s attempts to provide for the basic needs of the Olievenhoutbosch community, they are currently setting up a recycle swop shop which, as the name suggests, will combine recycling with helping people get their day-to-day necessities.The project is planned as a three-pronged tool to fight poverty and help the community. It will help clear litter and waste from the environment while providing people with their daily needs, all the time fostering self-help, independence and dignity.The idea is for people to collect recyclable waste such as tins, bottles and plastic products, and bring it to the swop shop. In exchange they will be given a ticket valued according to the amount of sorted materials they have collected.The tickets would then be redeemed at the organisation’s shop for essential products such as toiletries, food and clothing, depending on what has been donated to Dimphonyana by members of the public sympathetic to the cause.An example of the valuation system is as follows: 5 points for a loaf of bread, or 35 points for a standard food parcel containing mealie meal, bread, tea bags, cooking oil, soya mince and other basic cooking necessities.If all goes to plan, this innovative approach to tackling poverty while cleaning up the township will kick off on 1 June this year.OTHER PROJECTSAnother smart environment-friendly idea is the Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng Greenery Project, which hopes to turn the many informal dump sites in the township into mini eco-parks.The greening project is planned to work alongside the recycling swop shop. Volunteers and members of the community will clean up the dump sites and then plant them with indigenous trees and other greenery, to create the mini parks. The swop shop would be an incentive, encouraging people to remove recyclable material from the dump sites and take it to the swop shop.The project will begin with a pilot phase involving two identified sites: one near the centre of Olievenhoutbosch and the other at Kings Hope.Once the recycling project is under way, a longer-term goal is to sell the collected waste to recycling companies, and use the income to pay the people working on Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng projects.People are welcomed to visit the centre and see for themselves how Mama-Assie and her colleagues are making a difference on a daily basisPARTNERSHIPSDimphonyana hopes to partner with other organisations and corporations to get these projects off the ground.Organisations can help in a number of ways, such as adopting one of the dump sites to be made transformed into mini eco-parks, donating food products, toiletries and clothing for the swop shop or, as running the projects is likely to be labour-intensive, by offering their time as volunteers.The project is also open to receiving help from individuals in their own capacity who would like to donate their time and money or clothing and products.People are welcomed to visit the centre and see for themselves how Mama-Assie and her colleagues are making a difference on a daily basis.For more information on Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng or if you’re looking to offer your help in the running of the organisation in whatever way you can, contact Shalate Teffo on 071 027 3060 or Asnath Teffo (Mama-Assie) on 082 503 3648.You can also visit their Facebook page at Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng (Little Gifts of Home), their Twitter feed @dimphonyana_sa or their Instagram page via @dimphonyana_sa.
The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining has launched two web-based information systems geared at providing energy stakeholders with real time data.The systems, dubbed the National Energy Information Clearing House (NEICH) and the Energy Database and Management Information System (EDMIS), were officially unveiled during a press briefing at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston on Thursday, March 21.Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Hillary Alexander, said both programmes were developed as part of plans to implement the Ministry’s National Energy Policy.She said the NEICH is designed to provide up-to-date information on energy related matters to industry stakeholders. In this vein, the system will enable professionals, students and other interest groups to access real time information, prepared by numerous organisations in the energy sector via the internet.“It will facilitate dialogue, which is something we all value,” she stated.Additionally, the Ministry has collaborated with the University of Technology’s (UTech) Faculty of Engineering and Computing, to develop EDMIS.This database solution and information management system is designed to strengthen the data management, analytical and planning capacity of the Ministry’s Energy Division.“Our Ministry is (about) policy and we must be data driven in defining those policies; and we must take very good care to provide well collected, reliable data to inform decision-making and policies,” Mrs. Alexander stated.She further remarked that these tools will together provide the Ministry with improved capabilities to be able to forward plan and make better decisions.“(The programmes will also) enable us to take corrective action where it is necessary, to encourage dialogue, to encourage research, and to provide a framework for investment in the energy sector and renewed interest in an area that is so formative to our future development,” she said.For his part, State Minister, Hon. Julian Robinson, noted that partnership is critical to development, while lauding the partnership involving the Ministry, UTech and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in creating the systems.Mr. Robinson said it is even more satisfying that the systems were developed locally.“I know we have the capacity to build world class solutions and systems right here in Jamaica and it is through the development of these types of solutions that we can solve local problems. But more importantly create opportunities that will allow us to earn (well-needed) foreign exchange for our country,” he stated.Head of the School of Computing and Information Technology at UTech, Arnett Campbell, said the institution’s vision is to further collaborate with the Ministry to commercialise EDMIS, making it an energy data management system for the CARICOM region and beyond.He further noted that UTech is willing and ready to forge new partnerships with public and private sector stakeholders to solve Jamaica’s energy problems.“It is our belief and conviction that a university cannot realise its full potential until it is able to find innovative solutions to the problems of society,” he stated.He said EDMIS is just the beginning of ventures geared at finding solutions to Jamaica’s energy problems by combining skills in computing and engineering.The NEICH and EDMIS websites are accessible at www.neich.gov.jm, and www.edmis.gov.jm, respectively.By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter