2021 Bokamoso Visit Cancelled

The Bokamoso Youth Foundation Board has made the decision to cancel the Cultural Exchange and Performing Arts trip for 2021.  This was a hard decision to come to; however, we feel it is in the best interests of the youth’s health and safety to forego the 2021 visit.  It is difficult to know what the world status of COVID-19 will be in January/February of ‘21, but we felt it was important to make the decision with sufficient time to make alternative plans.  We do not want to subject the youth to a 19 hour plan ride under what might well be tenuous COVID conditions; it is even more difficult to anticipate what air travel and visa conditions will be later this year; and even if the COVID conditions flatten out or lessen between now and December, the January time frame is normally the beginning of the flu season and may well signal another COVID surge.  The Foundation has been in communication with St Andrews Episcopal School – normally where the youth spend much of their time, and the source of our host families; they have already made their decision to not host any exchange visits during the ‘20-‘21 school year.

Canceling the Exchange Program is going to be a disappointment to all of our partners, and, in particular, to the Bokamoso Youth.  This decision will also pose significant challenges for fundraising for the Centre, which depends, in significant measure, on the ticketed events and performances during the exchange visit.  The Foundation plans to recast both the fundraising and cultural exchange aspects of the program. As we are all now acutely aware, social interaction through technology is the new normal. We will explore, with the Centre, how technology might be used to support a virtual cultural exchange as well as fundraising events.  We invite and would, of course, welcome your thoughts, insights, and ideas on all these matters. Contact Connie Sullivan.

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The night of April 13th brought strong winds and rain to Winterveldt. Unfortunately, the Centre sustained damage in the unexpected storm. Several of the buildings were damaged from high winds and flying debris. Other than the garage building, which suffered quite serious structural damage (see photos) the other buildings appear to have minimal structural damage, just broken windows, missing tiles and broken gutters. The compound wall that runs along the left side of the Big Hall was toppled by a falling tree and will have to be rebuilt.

Winterveldt, including the Centre, is also without power. No youth were at the Centre at the time and the staff member who stays at the Centre was unhurt. Several staff members were able to go the next day to clear up some of the mess and assess the damage. The Centre Board and Staff will have to wait until after the quarantine is over to assess the safety of the standing structures. Right now, safety is the most important thing.

The Centre was closed at the time as part of the closure of schools and other business in South Africa due to COVID-19. The Centre will reopen when the South African government gives permission for schools and businesses to reopen. We have communicated with a number of staff and youth and so far everyone seems to be keeping healthy.

From all reports, Othandweni (the Guest House), right next to the Centre did not suffer any damage.

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