Ms. Sibongile Ndubaza's Visit to Canada
August 11, 2003

Ms. Sibongile Ndubaza, General Manager of Eastern Cape Micro Finance Enterprise (ECMFE), which is entirely funded by the Townships Project, visited Canada from July 21 until August 11, 2003. Her visit was partly subsidized by the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xacier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, which was hosting the Africa-Canada Youth Symposium from July 21st until July 28th.

Bongi was invited to attend that Symposium as a youth leader in her home country of South Africa. It was her first visit to North America, and The Townships Project members took advantage of her presence in Canada to arrange a cross-country fundraising and speaking tour.

On Monday, July 21st, a volunteer from the Coady International Institute met Bongi at the Halifax International Airport and drove her to Antigonish, her home for the next week. She participated actively in the seminars and discussions about developmental issues facing her continent, but found that the level of discussion was more macro-oriented than she was used to on her home turf of Mdantsane. Her daily tasks focus on the micro-world, whereas this Symposium was focused on the big picture of HIV AIDS, poverty, education etc. It was an eye-opener. She was grateful for the opportunity to mix with some of the youth leaders from Africa, but also welcomed the opportunities of the following two weeks to meet with the supporters of The Townships Project to talk about the subject she knows so well: the effect of micro-lending in the townships around East London, South Africa.

On Monday, 28th July, Mrs. Marian Chislett picked up Bongi in Antigonish and drove her to the ferry at Caribou to take the ferry to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island. There she was met by Sibyl Cutcliffe, who took her to the Keppoch home of Dr. Colin and Sandy McMillan. Colin and Sandy and their daughter, Alex, 26, a medical student, hosted Bongi during her 4 night stay on P.E.I.

On Tuesday, 29th July, many weeks of volunteer planning culminated in a dinner for 100 at Spring Park United Church in Charlottetown. All of the food and labour was donated. Bongi was overwhelmed at the level of volunteer giving in evidence. She met with and shook the hands of the 100 guests and about 30 helpers. She also spoke movingly of her involvement in the project, despite her nervousness, having never addressed such a large group before. Not even being in a strange country before a crowd of strangers, dampened her ability to convey a passion for her work and the effective help she believes the loans deliver to her community.

Ethel MacLeod managed the tickets for both the Tuesday dinner and the Thursday, 31st July tea held at Martha Deaconís home, and was in attendance at both events to take donations. Sheri Chislett co-ordinated the menu and the volunteers for the dinner. The volunteers wore coloured sashes made by our clients in South Africa in the colours of the South African flag. Tickets and invitations for both events were designed and printed by Lisa Murphy.

On Wednesday, July 30th, Bongi was the guest of Mrs. Joy Ikeda at the University of Prince Edward Island to see the university and to have lunch. She then attended an interview at CBC Radio and had supper with the Stratford Rotary Club.

Thursday began with a brief tour of the Island, followed by lunch at the Hillsborough Rotary Club, where Sibyl Cutcliffe and Bongi addressed the club about The Townships Project. The Hillsborough Rotary has contributed several times to the Project.

In the afternoon, a tea was held in the garden at Martha Deaconís home, attended by approximately 75 people in brilliant sunshine under a white and yellow striped tent. Bongi again told about her experiences as general manager of the project. Florence Wonacott and many others volunteered in the kitchen.

On Friday, 1st August, Bongi flew to Vancouver and was met by Anita Innis, her host for the next 5 nights. She had a number of visits over the weekend including a picnic lunch at Spanish Banks with John and Liz Bowyer family. She went to Whistler with Cathy McPherson to view the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, with a detour by the Squamish First Nations Reserve in Brackendale. She also attended the open air theatre in Stanley Park with friends of Anita.

On Sunday, 3rd August, Bongi attended Sunday morning service at Canadian Memorial United Church during which she, Rev. Bruce Sanguin, and Anita had a dialogue about the project. After the service, lunch was served to many supporters in the Centre for Peace. Cathy McPherson, the Projectís Treasurer, was on hand to receive donations and handle receipts throughout Bongiís Vancouver visit.

On Monday evening, Barbara Howard hosted a Potluck Supper and Dessert Party in the evening for members of Ellesmere United and others in her home. Robert and Yolanda Hibberd were in attendance and volunteered to spend some time with Bongi during her visit to assess how to improve the loan reporting system.

After a Tuesday morning breakfast meeting at Anitaís in order to discuss business issues surrounding the South African incorporation and administration, John, Martha and Bongi went to PriceWaterhouseCoopers for the meeting with the Hibberds.

A Tuesday evening cocktail party at the home of Pat Shaw was the final event of Bongiís Vancouver visit. About 75 attended on a warm summer evening. Cathy McPherson was on hand to issue tax receipts to donors.

On Wednesday morning, Bongi and Martha flew to Toronto for the final leg of Bongiís tour. Bongiís Toronto hosts for the following 5 nights were Ken and Jen Boughton, parishioners of St. Matthewís, Islington. This visit was arranged by the Rev. Marili Moore, through the Rev. Janet Read-Hocken.

On Thursday morning, Bongi attended a coffee party at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, which was attended by Bessie Lane and Lynn Jacklin, both of whom visited Bongi in Mdantsane in November, 2000. On Thursday evening, Ginny Flintoft and husband Peter Caven, together with the Megan, Will and Elizabeth, hosted a cocktail party in their garden. It was attended by about 50 people, including Rev. Dr. Andrew Stirling, Senior Minister at Eaton Memorial Church.

Friday and Saturday were free days for Bongi. Lindsay Shaddy took her on a memorable outing to Niagara Falls on one of those days, and she enjoyed some leisure time with the Boughtons on another.

On Sunday, Bongi attended morning service at St. Matthewís Anglican Church in Islington at the invitation of Rev. Stephen Drakeford, and did a live interview with him as part of the service. That marked the end of an unforgettable trip to Canada. She flew home on Monday, 11th August.