Open Hands Community Project (OHCP) was launched in September 2015 to help kids in fragile communities in South Africa graduate high school. Giving them the opportunity to seek higher education or enter the workforce.
Initially run as an after school program only, OHCP started Daybreak Academy in 2018, a full time accredited high school. The building we rented for the last 4 years is no longer available to us, requiring us to find another option.
After a long six month journey we have found and are in the process of buying a new property that will suit the needs of the school. We were able to find a large property, in the target area, that needs a bit of work but was sold for around $190,000; at least $70,000 LESS than other comparable property in the area!! The appraised value was set at $260,000 in the current condition. Other properties this size in nearby areas are closer to $315,000+ making this property a great deal. (want to see other properties nearby, similar in size but very different in price, the second one is next door to our new property; https://www.property24.com/for-sale/crofters-valley/noordhoek/western-cape/9083/109318718, https://www.property24.com/for-sale/sunnydale/noordhoek/western-cape/9090/109242256, https://www.property24.com/for-sale/crofters-valley/noordhoek/western-cape/9083/109410529)
This new property allows us to not only provide for the current students but gives plenty of room for growth. At 1 Acre we will be able to build onto the current house and provide the following:
* Currently there are 3 classrooms and an office in the main house. This allows us to grow even before building.
* The upstairs of the school offers us the opportunity to build housing for students who need accommodation.
* There is also space for a library.
* Outside there is room to build a large classroom that will double as a community building for future plans like youth groups and other gatherings.
* The two car garage will be converted into another large classroom, making it possible to convert an inside room into a science lab.
* There is space for a large school garden where the students can learn to grow their own food, will supplement the feeding program and provide for the local community.
* There is space to keep the chickens, another way we are able to feed the students and provides a small income for the school.
* There is another garage that will be turned into a woodworking shop and teach valuable life skills
.* The large open area will provide a space to grow grass and have a sports field as well as open air events.
* There is a 1 bedroom cottage on the property that will need to be converted into a family home for the Fransman family.
The after school program will be opening again on the new property to help even more students achieve their goals. The property is only three blocks away from a township and local school. We will be able to offer holiday camps for nearby kids (two target communities within 5 min of the property), host youth camps and school overnight camps for the students.
In the 5 year plan we will put in an industrial kitchen and expand the cooking classes currently offered. We plan to add a self catering apartment above the garage to provide volunteers accommodation and possible income for the school. The 5 year plan also has us growing to twenty students- the amount we are legally allowed to have (we are looking into this and when we have the funding and staff we hope to grow a little bigger- keeping class sizes small).
The school is more than just a school. It is a very small safe place for the students to discover who they are; find a passion and hope for their future. It is small on purpose, we keep class sizes to under 10 kids for each class so that they get the one on one attention they need. These kids are facing a lot at home, the system is set against them. We are able to quickly identify problems and help them navigate the situation they are facing. They are called “at risk” for a reason.
Daybreak Academy becomes a second family for our students. Our school hours are long and our breaks are short because many of our students would rather be here than at home. We provide a holistic approach- dealing with all aspects of their lives not just education. We provide basic needs like lunches and even occasionally sponsor the families electricity or other necessary bills. We are building the fundamentally needed community for these students that we all desire. Daybreak Academy also recognizes the huge unemployment rates in South Africa and bridges that gap whenever possible. Currently we employ 5 locals and will be hiring more soon. While we also love volunteers and have them at different times, we believe in investing in local South Africans. With COVID causing so much uncertainty in the world, our donations are down and hiring staff depends on those donations.
* We still need $2,800 towards closing costs and the date to pay is fast approaching (March 1, 2021).
* On top of closing costs we also need to raise funds very quickly for the following projects: For safety and security reasons we will need to put up a wall around the property. This is very common in South Africa and most houses in the area have one. Putting up a wall around an acre property is not cheap and we need about $7,000. This project needs to be started before we can move the school.
* The very small one bedroom cottage will not work for our family to live in. We are a family of 5 and need a kitchen and living room as well as bedrooms. We will be building out of wood (a much cheaper and less used material here) and we are looking at around $30,000 for the new house.
* We need to convert the garage into a large classroom and do minor repairs to the school including new windows, repairing floors, painting and replacing broken fixtures. We will need about $5,000 for that.
The total cost of improving the property is around $42,000- $45,000, MUCH less then the price to buy something already “fixed”. The builders and Realtors have said that investing the $45,000 will immediately increase the value of the property closer to $300,000!!
Besides donations through gofundme, you can also donate through PayPal or send a check to the USA office at: OHCP- 3707 NW 31st Ave, Camas WA 98607 Additional information about the mission, stories of the students and ways to be involved can be found at www.openhandscommunityproject.org