New Graff book raises funds for the FACET Foundation

All proceeds from the sale of ‘Graff’, the definitive new book recounting the fascinating history of Laurence Graff and showcasing the essence of the eponymous house, will be donated to the FACET Foundation.

In the book, leading jewellery historians, writers and best-selling authors tell the story of the purveyor of legendary jewels of unparalleled perfection and breathtaking beauty.

From the miracle of diamond discovery through to the artistry of jewellery design, the creation of exceptional timepieces and the emotional connection of a special piece, ‘Graff’ explores every facet of the world’s most spectacular jewels.

The exquisite 272-page tome is lavishly illustrated with beautiful photographs of the jewellery for which Graff is renowned – the most dramatic, mesmerising, and exceptional jewels in the world.

“The diamond is a wondrous material. If you can enhance the gem by cutting it in the right way, finessing the exquisite proportions and allowing the light to dance within the stone, you will find the diamond really lives and speaks to you. Then you know you’ve done a wonderful job.” – Laurence Graff

Explore & purchase the Graff book

Funding achieved for three new mobile learning centres

The FACET Foundation is pleased to provide Pebbles Project the funds to expand its portfolio of Mobile Learning Centres.

FACET currently funds the supply of two such vans used as a mobile computer lab and a mobile library, loaning out books and DVDs. Together, these two vans support a maths and literacy programme, as well as weekend activities and educational trips, for disadvantaged children living on the wine farms in the Western Cape.

The three new vans will add to these services, providing a second mobile computer lab, another mobile library and a mobile tutor classroom – fully funded for three years.

The new mobile computer lab will serve the Stellenbosch farms, so that children can benefit from more regular lessons, and deliver laptop computers to After-School Clubs, providing the opportunity for practice while the vehicle is away. In total, 80 children will take part in computer classes each week.

The new mobile library will house books, games, toys, DVDs and more computers. Travelling between remote farms in the Citrusdal area, where nothing like this currently exists, it will offer support to five Early Childhood Development centres and four After-School Clubs. Providing computer classes to children in each of these nine facilities, a total of 250 children will have access to the books, games, DVDs and toys on board.

The mobile tutor classroom will benefit children in the Stellenbosch area from Grade 1 right through to Grade 12. The van will be transformed into a fully equipped mobile classroom in which tutors can work with groups of children or individuals who need extra support. Staffed by four trained teachers with specialisms in maths and literacy, the daily lessons across 10 farms will benefit 80 children each week.

GLC helps older generation cope with HIV fallout

The Graff Leadership Centre in Leribe not only comes to the fore in educating and supporting the youth of Lesotho, but also excels in assisting the communities’ grandmothers cope with the fallout of HIV and AIDS in their children’s generation.

Nkhono Mafiloe, now 63, married as a teenager. The disease took her husband and two of six children. Stranded in a rural village, she has sole responsibility for the care of 10 orphaned grandchildren aged three to 14.

Isolated, both geographically and emotionally, Mafiloe was paralysed by the responsibility: “The children were so sad, and I did not know how to help them because I too was sad.” All 11 family members lived in a small one-room hut, sharing two mattresses. Food was scarce and Mafiloe would often go hungry so the youngest could eat.

Her plight led to the village chief contacting FACET’s Graff Leadership Centre. The monthly Grandmother meetings help Mafiloe learn about HIV and in turn to care for the sick and educate her grandchildren, as well as support them emotionally. Meeting women in a similar situation, she also benefits from being able to share her worries and offer encouraging words to that network.

The support continues at home: food parcels, shoes and blankets are all forthcoming and she has had assistance in building a keyhole garden, specially constructed to yield 10 times that of a normal garden – enough to sustain her family.

“Before I started the programme, I worried if my grandchildren would have a future at all,” confides Mafiloe. “But now we all help each other. My grandchildren help me with the garden, and with everything. And I am able to listen to them and let them grieve for their parents. I am so blessed to be part of this programme.”

Partnerships and networks in place for Leadership candidates

Partnerships are being formed with local companies and enterprises to allow participants of the Graff Leadership Centre’s Finding the Leader Within programme access to opportunities that might otherwise remain closed off.

Initiatives put in place to date include a partnership with the gym in Mochudi to conduct sports sessions. The hope is that this will open up the chance for participants to eventually be selected for national teams. Sports associations that look after netball, athletics, softball and chess have also shown interest in arranging try-out sessions.

Leadership participants have also been given the opportunity for trial runs at the local Pie Time factory, a food-preparation company. Those who have completed their three-month trials, across a range of roles, have gone on to successfully fill permanent positions.

Other locals companies and NGOs have provided participants the possibility of job shadowing, enabling them to build an understanding of the differences in various work environments so they can channel their skills to the right roles when making job applications.

Graff Leadership Centre offers a beacon of hope

Mokhabelane Morahanye, the District Administrator for Leribe, the location of Lesotho’s Graff Leadership Centre, explains how the centre is critical to the well being of his community.

“AIDS has devastated our country. I know many of the grandmothers in my village, and I have been to the funerals of their children.

“In this area of northern Lesotho, there was information about AIDS, but no ongoing support, which was what our youth needed. Knowledge without a support structure is not enough.

“My vision is for Leribe to become an exemplar of what leadership is all about. We thank FACET Foundation for helping people to rise above their suffering. Help Lesotho has clear and comprehensive programmes, and its work at the Graff Leadership Centre plays a pivotal part in realising this vision. It is a special place for our people: everyone is welcomed, free to think and express opinions. I am proud that it is located here.”

Educational outings & weekend activities gain popularity

Part of the FACET learning programme’s activities takes children from the wine farms to public facilities where they can find out about a variety of topics among superb facilities. A side benefit, of course, is that the children feel like these excursions are a reward for their efforts at the After-School Clubs.

Over the last 12 months, children from the wine farms have been fortunate to visit Giraffe House, to learn about wild animals and interact with some, and Stellenbosch Museum, where they have learned about the history of the town, as well as take a boat trip around Seal Island in Hout Bay – all experiences they would not have encountered without the programme.

Closer to home, the programme’s participants and their parents are invited to take part in weekend activities. This positive leisure time plays host to events such as board games, DVD screenings, group discussions, and drama and music sessions. Other pursuits may focus on the physical, mental or spiritual development of the children, as well as how to improve communication and listening skills within families, and how to build trust between one another.

Workshops, debates and group exercises help youth flourish

A haven for vulnerable people, the Graff Leadership Centre is a place of learning, discovery and healing, where every visitor is made to feel welcome and offered support.

Bongane, a 26-year-old graduate of the FACET-funded Help Lesotho Youth Development Programme is just one example of how this atmosphere nurtures success and well being.

Once a heavy drinker, having succumbed to peer pressure in high school, Bongane would disappear for days at a time: “My father got angry and eventually became violent. He thought beating me would make me stop, but it made me angrier. When he realised it wasn’t working he turned on my mother. He blamed her for my drinking, saying she was a terrible mother and wife. I couldn’t take it. I left.”

Bongane entered a world of petty crime to fund his drinking habit, but knew something had to change when his friend suggested an armed robbery on a house. He moved in with his brother and signed up to the Youth Development Programme, but he wasn’t aware what he was getting into: “I thought it was a job. When I realised it wasn’t, I thought I’d just stay for the first day and never come back. In that day we heard inspiring talks about how we have potential to make changes and take control of our future.”

And Bongane also met past graduates of the programme: “You could see the transformation in their eyes. They were happy. I wanted to be like that, so I stayed.” So, three days a week, together with 55 other young men and women, Bongane would participate in workshops, debates and reflection exercises covering self-esteem, goal setting and communication skills among various topics.

Following the programme, Bongane was able to join a community work project for six weeks and now volunteers at the GLC library, hoping to fulfil his ambition to become a police officer.

FACET mobile programme gathers strength

Over the last year, the FACET mobile computer lab has provided learners with the opportunity to learn both basic skills and higher-level thinking. For junior learners – and some parents – classes would start with something as simple as turning a laptop on as well as how to power it off and progress to learning how to type sentences and paragraphs. For senior learners, the focus is on learning how to research topics related to their school assignments, as well as offering a skills test from which a set of skill-related exercises can be set.

Meanwhile, the mobile library has also experienced successes. Providing its services to 10 different facilities, the staff have formed a close working relationship with the learners. Following each round of book reviews, learners are provided with small incentives, to ensure they remain enthusiastic about their reading and learning. At the After-School Clubs, the children are able to read in both Afrikaans and English, while parents are inspired to borrow reading material and DVDs during their lunch hour to help boost their children’s enthusiasm about books and reading. The success of the programme is borne out in the numbers: over the last year 7,500 books have been circulated, covering just 14 After-School Clubs.

Leadership programme participants learn new skills

Participants on the Finding the Leader Within programme at FACET’s Graff Leadership Centre (GLC) in Mochudi have attended a selection of different workshops that aim to nourish vocational skills as well as educate on issues such as the dangers of substance abuse.

Five participants attended the Agricultural Business Workshop at Sebele and learned how to make an agriculture business plan, start and run a farm or garden, and how to keep such a business running smoothly. With their new skills they will run a leadership garden at the GLC.

The dangers of substance abuse are a key issue in the local community, and this interactive session saw 45 participants attend, all learning how to avoid being exposed to the substances and of their risks.

In another activity a number of participants learned to make bead jewellery, with the aim of selling their wares as part of an income-generating scheme. Larona, from the GLC, said: “I can make beads now and sell them to tourists for money. I am happy now.” Other business related activities included seminars on entrepreneurship and a networking dinner.

Working groups formed at the Graff Leadership Centre

Leadership training participants have set up six different working groups to assist with the running of the Graff Leadership Centre in Mochudi. Volunteer-led and run, the participants plan each group’s activities and record their minutes and practice proper bookkeeping.

The groups that have been formed include one that looks after the library, keeping track of loans, setting penalties for late returns, taking the inventory and ensuring books are correctly arranged; another raises money to help its members apply for jobs through farming.

A third group encourages fitness. In their running of a soccer tournament, its members have developed their planning and implementation skills. A further group tackles the centre’s recycling needs, not only seeking the benefits to the community that come from recycling, but also searching for a method in which the practice can become income generating.

The final two groups help to run the computer centre, setting clear rules for laptop use, providing assistance in printing documents and engaging the IT officer to assist with technical problem solving; and focus on the psychosocial and well-being needs of Leadership participants, serving as peer counsellors. This latter group will refer their peers to the social worker when they are unable to assist them.