New York, New York. Here comes Stanford!

We are not much in favor of all kinds of photography competitions for which you have to pay an entrance fee to participate. But now we made an exception (on invitation BTW). Although there is a jury that makes the final decision people can also vote for us online. The more votes the bigger the chance to win the JACKPOT of 75,000 US-Dollars. If we should win it (which is most probably beyond any imagination) we donate one third to the NGO Food4Thought here in Stanford, South Africa. This community based NGO runs, for over 10 years now, a pre-primary school in the informal settlement Die Kop that is virtually fully privately funded with well trained teachers, born and bred in Die Kop. The school is one of the best of its kind in the Western Cape. The NGO is fully accountable and periodically independently audited and complies therefore even for funding from the USA (strict regulations over there when it comes to funding South African projects).

As theme for the photographic competition we choose for the village we are living. The main picture in the linked page is THE one which will circulate in the jury and in diverse (online) media; the smaller ones are there  for illustrating how we see and enjoy Stanford through the lens.

Thanks for voting!

At the bottom of this page you can comment (also welcomed)

Herman :)

P.S. the thumbnails below are made at the pre-primary

_DSC7186_DSC1715WEB _DSC1718WEB Herman Pic..hands on window_DSC4782 _DSC4785

Seeking Knowledge


One of the best pre-primary schools in the Western Cape is here in Stanford in the informal settlement ‘Die Kop’. The young children live 5 kilometers away from the regular governmental funded pre-primary school and that is not the 7 kilometer needed to have access to the official school bus system. Add to that the busy road the children have to cross, etc., etc. Except for a grant of 11 Rand per child per school day of the department of Social Development (for food, salaries staff and other running expenses) the funding is purely sourced in the private sphere; in- and outside South Africa and as far as the Rotary Club in Knoxville Tennessee in the USA.

Without this initiative of the NGO Food 4 Thought the parents would have kept their young children at home. Now the children have the opportunity to grow into further education. Food 4 Thought was founded in 2004 and initiated by ‘Black” and ‘White’ villagers including a significant input of mothers of the settlement.

An old municipal building was privately upgraded (new windows, proper sanitation, paint, etc. etc.) by the initiative takers and since than the school and the support from third parties have been growing. And still it needs quite an input of the participants to organise things like daily meals and drinks for the children, maintenance, dealing with ‘officials’ and so on. But the initiative in one that bears fruit and deserves wider acknowledgement within the Western Cape.

The name of the school is Funimfundo and that is Xhosa for Seeking Knowledge.


The Power Cut

Every now and than people in South Africa experience power cuts. There are several reasons for it; the main one is that the national electicity supplier Eskom does not have enough capacity. They are working on it but that will take several years. Second in line is a backlog in maintenance of the different distribution stations and power lines. But let’s keep politics out of this.

Since we moved to Stanford we were hardly troubled by power cuts (in contrast with the Klaas Voogds area near Robertson, our previous adress, where we experienced -at the end of the line- virtually daily ‘fluctuations’ in the power supply). Yesterday Eskom made up for it: due to a fire at one of their stations Stanford and Gansbaai were disconnected for about 12 hours (we were nicely informed by the local municipality that it would take 8 hrs longer) so we took some precautions. Luckely we have a gas stove and hot water is generated by solar heating and the labtop at last had the chance to cool off a bit. For the lights we had candle light with dinner (how romantic!), parafine lights for the sphere and solar led lights for reading.

The solar led lights are an initiative of the Stanford Rotary and the local NGO Food for Thought. They were primarly designated for people in ‘local communities’ who don’t have access to electricity or who can’t keep up with the rising electricity rates. What surprises us that Africans from South Africa, living in the ‘location’ or ‘Scheme’ as people here named the ‘township’ don’t buy these lights but Africans from other countries do. We have the idea that this has to do with education and mindset. South African Africans think more short term: why pay 75 Rand for Solar LEDs if a candle stick only cost 10 Rand; forgetting that a candlestick only last for a few days and the solar LED jar (see pictures left and above) for at least several years. And in comparison with the electricity usage/costs of a bulb the pay back time is a few months… During the day you put the jar behind a window where it catches the light, stores the power is a small battery so it provides light for 6 hours.

Coming back to the national electricity supply: if Eskom would allow concious people to supply power to the grid we would be one of the first to install photovoltaic cells on the roof.