Category Archives: Allycats Public Relations

Thembalami residents savour dining hall make-over

Sandton-based Infinitude Design has once again worked a little magic at Rand Aid’s Thembalami Care Centre.

The company has done make-overs of various parts of the care centre over the past few years. Situated in Lombardy East, Thembalami looks after vulnerable senior citizens and aged deaf and deafblind people.

This time around, it was the dining room that was given a new look. The large room was transformed into a vibrant space. Wallpaper was put on three walls, splashes of colour added through paint and artwork, new curtains puts up and tiles laid. In addition, the steel windows and doors were replaced with aluminium ones.

“In the one corner of the hall they created a cosy lounge area with a TV set against the wall. They took a three-and two seater couch and two wingback chairs and re-upholster them with fabric that was donated by one of their suppliers. This is a beautiful space where the residents can sit and enjoy drinking coffee or tea whilst watching the morning news,” says Elize Raath, the head of Thembalami.

She adds that Infinitude Design had 110 cushions made for the chairs in the dining hall.  “One of their suppliers made the cushions at cost price. They are covered in navy blue and brown fake leather, which is easy to wash but has made the chairs nice and soft,” says Elize.

Each table now sports a steel condiment holder with a small succulent plant in it, and laminated place mats were designed for each resident.

“The transformation is amazing. The dining hall looks warm, homely and creates an atmosphere of serenity,” says Elize.


Thami unleashes wood’s inner magic

The winner of last year’s inaugural National Craft Awards, Thami Kitty, says that winning the competition generated much interest in his work.

His range of intricately carved walking sticks impressed the judges enough for him to take first prize from among a host of world-class crafters who had entered what is the country’s only national craft competition.

The resident of Khayelitsha in the Western Cape travelled to Mpumalanga’s capital city of Mbombela for the awards evening in mid-2017, where he not only pocketed R50 000 in prize money but was given the chance to network with the who’s in the South African craft sector.

Proudly Xhosa, Thami says his work is ‘all about my culture’. Most of his carvings depict animals – either so realistically rendered that you almost expect to see them breathe, or created with whimsy and humour.

He started carving in 1992 when he was in his early 20s but as a child growing up in rural Transkei without commercially bought toys, he would go to the river to collect clay to make animals. This early dabbling in clay led to drawing and eventually, after school, to wood carving.

Today, Thami’s work has been included in a number of exhibitions.

National Premier Craft Competition 2018

If you think you are another Thami, then submit a photo of your work for consideration.

Crafters have until April 20, 2018, to enter. They need simply take a photo of their entry – next to a matchbox for size of scale, and either email it to or send it to 071 621 3597 via MMS or WhatsApp. There is no entry fee.

Remember to include your name, the town in which you live and your contact details.

Entrants who have not heard from the organisers within 30 days of the closing date must take it as given that they did not make the shortlist for final judging. Sixty entries will be shortlisted and these will form part of an exhibition to be held in Mbombela during the Innibos National Arts Festival from June 24 to 30, 2018.

The finalists must be available to attend the awards evening on Sunday, June 24, at which the winners will be announced.

The winner of the Platinum Award will receive R50 000, the Gold Award winner will pocket R20 000 and the Silver R15 000. There will also be merit awards for the Best Emerging Craftsmen, along with sound financial advice to grow their business. In addition, a Craft Retail Apprenticeship with Tourvest Destination Retail will be bestowed on one of the winners.

Entries in the disciplines of Ceramics, Beadwork, Wirework, Wood, Jewellery, Paper, Fabric Painting and Printing, Quilting, Leatherwork, Pewter, Glasswork, Embroidery and Mixed Media are invited.

The judges

A panel of judges with a passion for developing South Africa’s creative talent has been convened, including: Harrie Siertsema (Delagoa Trading, collector and art patron), Wendy Goldblatt (internationally-known ceramist), Maureen Waldeck (Brand Manager for Tourvest Destination Retail’s stores and retail brands and a seasoned retailer with an exceptional eye for merchandise), Joseph Mathe (National Department of Arts and Culture: Responsible for the development of crafts), Thabo Manetsi (Director: Western and Northern Cape provinces – Leading in Heritage Development) and Fran Stewart (Craft + Design Institute’s Market Support Programme Manager).

For information, please contact Jan Bhuda on 083 719 1731 or e-mail John Anthony Boerma at  Also, please LIKE the craft competition Facebook page and follow them on Twitter:

* Photos courtesy of the Africa South Art Initiative

South Africa’s queen of literacy

A lifetime dedicated to fighting one of the greatest societal ills – illiteracy – was recently rewarded when Edna Freinkel received a Continental Lifetime Achiever award as one of CEO Global’s ‘most influential women in business and government’.

Other recipients included Graca Machel, Wendy Ackerman, Carol Brown and Professor Glenda Gray.

The resident of Rand Aid’s Elphin Lodge is now in her 80s and remains not only a vocal literacy advocate, but still teaches reading to as many people as she can through Readucate, a Trust registered in 1991 to ‘make a difference between dreams and destitution’.

Readucate – a marriage between ‘read’ and ‘educate’ – works mainly in schools and prisons, thus changing the lives of both children and adults. In prisons, literate inmates are trained as instructors so that they can teach illiterate offenders, which means the project has a greater reach and is more sustainable. Both groups become rehabilitated, which is why the Department of Correctional Services would like Readucate to operate in all prisons.

The methods used impart self confidence. They teach people not just to read, but to write, spell, comprehend and memorise. People are taught to study successfully and to think courageously.

“Learning must be a joy,” says Edna, who gives life to a phrase she once heard from a former Unisa lecturer: ‘Reading is living’. This encapsulates precisely Readucate’s vision.

Even though South Africa is ranked as one of the most illiterate countries in the world, Readuate’s biggest challenge remains a desperate need for funding. Despite limited funding, Edna and her team have managed to train around 1 500 teachers and prisoners. It has been roughly estimated that about a million children and adults have become fully literate through being trained by these Readucate Instructors.  With adequate resources, Readucate could raise national literacy levels dramatically, thus helping South Africa develop its undoubted potential.

When Edna’s husband, Dr Lionel Freinkel, was alive, it was his wallet that was often opened to ensure Readucate’s doors stayed open. “If only I was as good at fundraising as I was at teaching,” laments Edna.

In 2004, Edna received the South African Presidential Award of the Order of Baobab for her lifelong dedication to the development of specialised learning methods for the learning impaired and in 2010, she was awarded the UNISA Outstanding Educator Award.

“Really, my late mother should have been the one to receive the Order of the Baobab,” says Edna.

Rebecca Ostrowiak was a literacy pioneer who developed a multi-sensory approach to learning to read and memorise. “My Mom was a teacher in the early 1920s with a special interest in the ‘lame dog’ struggling at the bottom of the class. She was light years ahead of her time in recognising the relationship between home and school performance.”

Rebecca’s successes drew attention and calls grew for her to share more widely her methods for transforming non-achievers into fluent readers. Edna, then a young adult doing secretarial work for the Israeli Consulate, was persuaded to dedicate six months of her time to helping Rebecca capture her methods into a manual. She agreed to do so because ‘my mother was such a wonderful mother’. In 1965, the ‘Teach any Child or Adult to Read’ series was published and remains highly relevant today.

Edna never went back to her former career and the years that followed were all about spreading the magic of reading and helping people deemed ‘unteachable’ to reach their potential.

“I was involved in dyslexia before it was recognised as a legitimate disability,” she says. She was the only South African to speak at the first World Congress on Dyslexia at the Mayo Clinic in 1974.  There she met Marion Welchman, a co-founder of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). It was Marion, on a lecture tour of South Africa that Edna organised, who suggested the formation of the Readucate Trust. Edna subsequently served for many years on the Editorial Board of the BDA journal ‘Dyslexia:  An International Journal of Research and Practice’.

In 1969, Rebecca and Edna established the Rebecca Ostrowiak School of Reading in Germiston, which they ran together. After her mother’s death in 1981, Edna trained qualified teachers for the Rebecca Ostrowiak Reading Teacher Diploma Course, with the help of Professor Jackie Jordaan of the Psychology Department at UNISA.

As principal of the school, Edna not only personally taught hundreds of children and adults to read, but also gave lectures and ran workshops for teachers in South Africa and abroad. She addressed numerous national and international reading and education conferences.

Although financial pressure and time constraints saw Edna eventually selling the school, Readucate continues Rebecca’s legacy and the methods she forged all those years ago, still work their magic.

The principal of Ohlange High School in the Eastern Cape, which recently initiated a Readucate programme, acknowledges its impact: “We have undoubtedly seen a great improvement in terms of learner results. For the past three years, learners were performing badly. A 10% increase in the pass rate has now been secured, especially in the past preparatory examinations.


“This indicates the excellent role played by the introduction of such a magnificent programme of reading in our school. Surely if it weren’t there, none of the enhanced reading skills would have been achieved by our learners.”


Rebecca and Edna’s passion has been passed down to Edna’s daughter, Corinne Ossendryver. A qualified Rebecca Ostrowiak Reading Teacher, Corinne has her Masters Degree in Communication and Education through Computers and is a specialist in the use of multimedia in education. And just as Edna once helped Rebecca, in 2013, Corinne helped her mom update the ‘Teach any Child or Adult to Read’ series.

Edna lived in Germiston for four decades. At her family’s insistence that she find a safe and secure environment in which to live, Edna moved to Elphin Lodge around five years ago – initially kicking and screaming. “But I love it here,” she says. “Everyone is so friendly always with smiling greetings from the gardeners up to the  fantastic management and the upkeep is amazing.” Efficiency, beautiful surroundings and warmth are the key words to describe Elphin Lodge, says Edna.

Despite many of Elphin Lodge’s residents leisurely enjoying their golden years, Edna says she cannot retire ‘while there is still one child or one adult who cannot read’.

For further information on Readucate, email

Viewing elevator a first for Africa – opens mid-December: Experience the magic of Graskop Gorge

The countdown to the opening of the Graskop Gorge lift development is underway. While visitors can expect a tourism experience that is unique to Africa, an important element of the venture is the showcasing of the Panorama Route’s magnificent beauty and the importance of its conservation. Continue reading Viewing elevator a first for Africa – opens mid-December: Experience the magic of Graskop Gorge

Craft excellence to be celebrated

The inaugural National Premier Craft Competition in 2017 attracted almost 800 entries and organisers John Anthony Boerma and Jan Bhuda of Art Aid Africa are confident that even more crafters will seize the opportunity offered by the 2018 competition to showcase their creativity and skill. Continue reading Craft excellence to be celebrated