More than a thousand learners from Silethukukhanya Secondary School, in the Umkhanyakude District near St Lucia in northern KwaZulu-Natal, sang their school song in celebration of the official opening of the rural school’s new soccer pitch and lights, on Friday 8 May. The Woolworths Trust provided the funds for 18-month project that included the construction of the pitch and lights, which will allow it to be used throughout the year in the evenings and late afternoons during the winter months. More significantly the building of the pitch included the construction of a bore hole, pumps and water tanks, which in addition to supplying water for pitch’s grass, are also providing fresh, clean water to the school. For the first time, learners can use the taps in their domestic science and science labs and they no longer have to carry buckets of water to flush the toilets. Passionate about the project and the difference it is making both on the field and off, Pieter Twine trustee of the Woolworths Trust, commented that it is very rewarding to witness first-hand the joy a running tap, never mind a whole soccer pitch, can bring to a community. Silethukukhanya’s principal, Bheki Nomandla, says that the soccer pitch is going to be an enormous benefit to his learners. “It is so important for learners to have a space where they can focus on physical activity and team sports. The physical activity helps them to concentrate better in class and the sport creates a team spirit. The community also gets involved, which strengthens the relationship between the community and the school.” The project was inspired by Singaporean architect Swee Hong Ng’s winning entry in the 2005 INDEX Design for Life Award. This competition, organised by Architecture for Humanity, a U.S.-based non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting architectural solutions to humanitarian crises, challenged entrants to develop a sustainable design for a youth sports facility and HIV/AIDS outreach centre. “We first heard about this project at Design Indaba in 2007 from Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity,” explains Twine. “We felt it was an ideal opportunity for the Trust – not only because of our focuses on education and orphaned and vulnerable children, but also our drive to help create sustainable schools in disadvantaged areas. The project is also aligned with Woolworths’ Good business journey commitment to social development in South Africa.” In addition to the Woolworths Trust and Architecture for Humanity, other partners in the project are Mpilonhle, an NGO that uses mobile units to bring health and specialised education services to rural schools and communities, and which managed and coordinated implementation of the project, East Coast Architects, which assisted with design, and Charlize Theron’s Africa Outreach Project, which provided additional funding for the project. Umkhanyakude Mayor Laurence Mthombeni, who is also Chairman of the Mpilonhle Board, spoke at the opening, saying that “This is an example of a project in which public and private groups come together to provide a lasting legacy for the community. It will crucially help address the issue of AIDS prevention by integrating Mpilonhle’s health activities with the sports activities that the field provides.” According to Twine, Silethukukhanya School is situated in the Dukuduku Forest, one of the country’s most severely economically depressed areas. HIV and AIDS are rife, and there are virtually no sports facilities for the area’s young people. “The more we learnt about the school and its remarkable principal, the more determined we were to do what we could to help them,” says Twine. “Not only will the soccer pitch give learners and members of the community the opportunity to participate in healthy activities like sport, with Mpilonhle as a partner it will also provide a base for much-needed health-related activities such as counselling and testing for HIV, group health education, and computer education for learners and members of the community via their mobile health units.” “The kids themselves are our greatest motivation,” concludes Twine. “They really want to change their circumstances and create a better future for themselves. We are delighted to have been able to help facilitate this development and with 2010 fast approaching, the kids now have their own pitch to emulate the visiting nations’ chip shots.” ENDS ___________________________________________________________ NOTES FOR THE EDITOR •Architecture for Humanity is a U.S.-based non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting architectural solutions to humanitarian crises. Through competitions, workshops, educational forums, partnerships with aid organisations and other activities, Architecture for Humanity creates opportunities for architects and designers from around the world to help communities in need, believing that where resources and expertise are scarce, innovative, sustainable and collaborative design can make a difference. In 2004 Architecture for Humanity hosted an open international design competition to develop a youth sports facility and HIV/AIDS outreach centre. Out of 630 entries the winning designer, selected by the community, was Swee Hong Ng. It was this initiative that led to the development of the project at Silethukukhanya secondary school. For more information, please visit: •Implementing Partner: Mpilonhle is a non-governmental organisation that uses mobile units to bring health and specialised education services to rural schools and communities in Umkhanyakude District of KwaZulu-Natal. The Mpilonhle programme provides individualised health screening and treatment, including voluntary counselling and testing for HIV, group health education, and computer education for learners and members of the community via a computer lab, to these secondary schools using mobile health units. Mpilonhle currently provides services to 10,000 students in 12 secondary schools. On Saturdays, and on school holidays the mobile units have provided services to 12,000 persons at 30 different community sites. Initial financial and logistical support for the Mpilonhle programme was provided by the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Program and Oprah's Angels Network, and subsequent financial support has been provided by the United States Presidents Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education have provided support and close cooperation for the programme. For more information about the project, please visit: •The Woolworths Trust: The Woolworths Trust was formed in 2003 as a consolidation of Woolworths' social investment strategy. The Trust integrates Woolworths' existing and future projects by serving as a focused channel for meaningful social investment and for the goals of Woolworths’ Good business journey relating to social development. oThe Trust effectively brings Woolworths in line with global best practices of corporate citizenship. oThe Woolworths Trust focuses on nutritional education, food security and environmental care, as well as addressing challenges of orphaned and vulnerable children- this is all done within the education system. These criteria reflect both national priorities and Woolworths' experience and brand attributes. oThe Woolworths Trust EduPlant programme is the Trust's main social investment project. The Trust will continue to donate approximately R100 million worth of food and R20 million worth of clothes to selected charities serving the needy and the poor. •This donation was made possible by the funds raised for the Woolworths Trust by Woolworths customers who hold the World of Difference cards and have nominated the Woolworths Trust as their MyVillage beneficiary. The Trust receives revenue from the business every time