Asbestos Youth Awareness Workshop: Asbestos the Silent Killer 

Report compiled by Prudence Kotoloane, Kuruman Asbestos Interest Group



The workshop was held at Maipeing Primary School on June 16, 2017. Facilitators were members of the Asbestos Interest Group (A.I.G); target groups were learners from local primary and middle schools


The Asbestos Interest Group is a non-profit organisation based in Kuruman town. It is responsible for creating awareness of the danger of asbestos and identifying asbestos in the local municipalities. Awareness is raised through workshops, door to door campaigns, school visits, health talks at clinics and community events. The Group is funded by the Asbestos Relief Trust and the Kgalagadi Relief Trust. This is the fourth asbestos awareness workshop conducted by the Asbestos Interest Group on Youth Day.


The attendance was very good, with the following schools participating:

  1. Ineeleng Primary School
  2. Maipeing Primary School
  3. Ncweng Primary School
  4. Gamopedi Primary School
  5. Galotolo Primary School
  6. Sedibeng Primary School
  7. Lehikeng Primary School
  8. Thusego Intermediate School
  9. Reaiteka Intermediate School

Each school had two representatives of teachers and school governing body members. In all, there were 12 teachers and 11 school governing body members.


Candle Lighting
We had a candle lighting ceremony in which candles were lit for the following reasons:

White Candle: to give hope to those affected by asbestos related diseases. We hope that one day there will be a cure for these diseases.

Yellow Candle: to give courage and strength to those taking care of the bed-ridden asbestos related disease patients.

Navy Blue Candle: to give comfort to the families that have lost their loved ones because of asbestos related diseases.



All attendees were given individual candles to share the light of the main candles.

Ice breakers
We all went outside to play a game called mixed fruits. The aim of the game was to get learners to mix with others from different schools. We also mixed these learners to form groups so that they had the opportunity to share ideas on the information searching part of the workshop. Different ice breakers were employed throughout the programme to keep the learners awake and energetic.


Information Searching
The groups formed outside were then named (apple, banana, mango, pear and orange) and assigned different questions related to asbestos. Following a collective discussion each group made a presentation about asbestos. The presentations were perfect: subject well known and the presenters confident.


Group Discussion


A group presentation

The Asbestos Legacy
Asbestos activist Mrs. Lucia Mereotlhe gave the background to the pollution of our district with asbestos fibres.

Back in the years, men used to dig out asbestos bearing rock, while women were cobbers of the asbestos fibres (releasing them from the mined rock) and children used to pack the fibres in sacks. The family would then sell the sacks of asbestos as a way of bringing income to the family. This polluted many households, as the family would do the cobbing and packing in their yards. She also mentioned that there are still uncovered dumps in Kuruman that cause pollution of our environment.

Talking about the houses, schools and hospitals, that are built using asbestos brick or roofing, she said: this is a health hazard as the buildings are getting old and the fibres are now visible. She encouraged us to talk to the affected families; to advise them to cover buildings with proper plaster and paint. She also said all the households that have asbestos fibres in their yards should cover it with clean soil and plant grass on it. These are some safety measures against asbestos pollution.


Mrs Lucia Mereotlhe making her presentation.

Asbestos Disease and Palliative Care
A.R.T Palliative Care Nurse Sr. Phemelo Magabanyane spoke about her duties, stressing the importance of palliative care and the support needed by the patient and the family. She talked about the suffering that the family goes though when taking care of an asbestos related disease patient (physically, emotionally psychologically, financially and spiritually). The family needs counselling. She described the different kinds of asbestos related diseases – asbestosis, pleural plaques and pleural thickening, lung cancer and mesothelioma – and also gave information about the process an individual undergoes during the investigation of an asbestos related diseases.

Finally, nurse Magabanyane alerted the school learners about their right to a safe environment, and the need to prevent further pollution and so keep their surroundings safe.


Sr. Magabanyane making a presentation.

Asbestos Art Competition


Trophies for the Asbestos Art Competition.

All schools participated in the Asbestos Art Competition, with each submitting artwork showing how people are affected by asbestos and the results of asbestos exposure. This year most schools included poetry, songs and drama in the presentation of their work. The schools also came up with different stories, presented by learners, on how they (the learners) could generate asbestos dust in the school yard during playing and even at home.




Learners presenting their art.

The competition was very tight this year. Schools came in very much prepared, they were more informative and more active in their presentations. We highly appreciated the presentations of the schools that had newly joined us for the workshop:

  • Lehikeng Primary school
  • Thusego Intermediate school
  • Reaiteka Intermediate school

They all had wonderful presentations!

All the winners were awarded trophies.



First Prize winner for primary level Sedibeng Primary School; learners from Sedibeng Primary School receiving their trophy.


Second Prize winner for primary level – Gamopedi Primary School; learners from Gamopedi Primary School receiving their trophy.


Third Prize winner for primary level – Galotolo Primary School; learners from Galotolo Primary School receiving their trophy.


First Prize winner for Intermediate level – Reaiteka Intermediate School; learners from Reaiteka Intermediate School receiving their trophy.


Second Prize winner for Intermediate level – Thusego Intermediate School; learners from Thusego Intermediate School receiving their trophy.

Attendance Certificates
The Asbestos Interest Group awarded all students attendance certificates.


Learners with their attendance certificates.


Learners with their attendance certificates.


Learners with certificates.


Learners with certificates.


A.I.G thanks the Asbestos Relief Trust, the Kgalagadi Relief Trust and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat for their support of this education programme initiative.

It strengthened the Asbestos Interest Group’s campaigns and teachings around Kuruman communities.

We also thank our Department of Education, district office for allowing us to host the event at Maipeing Primary School. We are also grateful that the Department gave us the permission to involve other schools. We hope that the Youth Day workshop will perpetuate and keep on teaching learners on a yearly basis.

Knowledge is Power and it is mandatory to teach children about a safe environment.

July 9, 2017



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