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 15, 2019. Facilitators were members of the Asbestos Interest Group (A.I.G); target groups were students from local primary and middle schools.


The Asbestos Interest Group1 is a non-profit organisation based in Kuruman Town. The Group is responsible for educating people about asbestos and identifying asbestos in local municipalities. The main aim is to create asbestos awareness in John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipalities. The awareness is achieved through workshops, campaigns and community awareness initiatives. The asbestos Interest Group is funded by the Asbestos Relief Trust (A.R.T) and the Kgalagadi Relief Trust (K.R.T). This is the sixth asbestos awareness workshop conducted by the Asbestos Interest Group on South Africa's Youth Day.


The attendance was very good.
The following schools participated:

  • Reitemogetse Primary School
  • Ncweng Primary School
  • Gamopedi Primary School
  • Sedibeng Primary School
  • Rearata Primary School
  • Ineeleng Primary School
  • Galotolo Primary School
  • Maipeing Primary School
  • Tsineng Primary School
  • Khiba Junior Secondary School
  • Gamohana Secondary School
  • Reaiteka Secondary School


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.


The AIG team provided all attendees with individual candles to share the light of the main candles: so with one voice, we could give hope, courage and comfort to the victims of asbestos related diseases. The candles were put out using our fingers. Every day there are people suffering in pain because of asbestos related disease – the pain of putting out the candles in this way should remind us there are people that need our support in fighting the daily struggles of asbestos related disease.

Ice Breakers

The children played a game called “mixed fruits”; the aim of the game was to get pupils to mix with others from different schools.

Different ice breakers were used throughout the programme to keep the pupils awake and energetic.


Preparing for the game.

Information Searching

The pupils were divided into groups (Apple, Banana, Pear, Mango and Orange.) and assigned different questions related to asbestos. Each group made a collective presentation about asbestos. The presentations were perfect, subject well known and the presenters were confident.


Groups discussing their presentations.


A student from Pear Group giving an account of her group's conclusions.


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.

She also mentioned that most villages in Kuruman are polluted by asbestos because of the uncovered dumps of asbestos mines surrounding our villages.

We were made aware that there are buildings in our areas that are built with asbestos bricks (public places like hospitals and schools as well as private properties). Most schools in Kuruman are closed because they were built with asbestos bricks. As years went by, the buildings got old and the fibres became visible; this became a health hazard to the learners, teachers and everyone visiting the school. Making the students aware of such dangers, Mrs. Mereotlhe advised them never to play with asbestos fibre. She said that if they found an asbestos brick or stone, they should dig a hole and bury it. Should the areas around their homes be contaminated with asbestos fibres, they should advise their parents to cover up the contaminated area with clean soil and plant grass. This would minimise the risk of the soil being washed or blown away during rainy or windy seasons.


Mrs. Lucia Mereotlhe making her presentation.

A.R.T Palliative Care Nurse – Sr. Phemelo Magabanyane

Sr. Magabanyane spoke about the asbestos related diseases: asbestosis, pleural plaques and pleural thickening, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

She also gave information about the process an individual undergoes to investigate asbestos related diseases.

Using the picture on a banner she displayed, Sr. Magabanyane explained what asbestos fibre does to the lung and what happens to the lung after some years. She also described the difference between A.R.D 1, A.R.D 2, A.RD 3 and A.R.D 4 so that if the students saw medical results from A.R.T/K.R.T medical doctors, they might be able to explain to their parents what they meant.


Sr. Magabanyane making her presentation.

A.R.T Palliative Care Nurse – Sr. Gomolemo Moetsi

Sr. Moetsi encouraged the students to be aware of their environment; they should be careful and ensure their environment was asbestos free.

She said that taking care of a person suffering from asbestos related diseases was not an easy task. Such diseases imposed emotional, psychological and spiritual strains on the patient, the family and friends. We should all do our part in caring for victims of asbestos related diseases as they needed our support; having these diseases can lead to a very lonely life, sufferers need someone to talk to, someone to hear their fears, about their pains, their daily struggles and most of all they need someone who truly cares.

She encouraged the students to talk to their parents should they start to complain of chest pain, shortness of breath. She said they must educate their parents about asbestos related diseases.


Sr. Moetsi making her presentation.

Asbestos Art Competition

The school teams produced artworks showing what asbestos was, how it affected people and what should be done to prevent asbestos pollution. The students were very vocal and confident. It was obvious that they recognised the brutal impact asbestos could have on people’s lives. Each school was represented by up to 10 students, in full school uniform.


Tsineng Primary School.


Reitemogetse Primary School.


Reaiteka Secondary School


Ncweng Primary School


Ineeleng Primary School


Rearata Primary School.


Galotolo Primary School

The Department of sports, arts and culture were responsible in adjudicating the presentations.


Ms. Z. T. Plaatjie, Mr. B. Sanane and Ms. T. Seritshane from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

Although this was a tough competition since all schools did their best to showcase their knowledge on asbestos matters, the adjudicators accorded the following results:

Primary Level


1st Prize : Gamopedi Primary School.


2nd Prize : Sedibeng Primary School.


3rd Prize : Maipeing Primary School.

Secondary Level


1st Prize : Gamohana Secondary School.


2nd Prize :Reaiteka Secondary School.


3rd Prize : Khiba Secondary School.

Attendance Certificates & Pencil Cases

The Asbestos Interest Group awarded all students attendance certificates. The Asbestos Relief Trust and Kgalagadi Relief Trust donated pencil cases containing pencil, eraser, ruler, sharpener & pen, to be given to each learner.


Pencil cases donated by the Asbestos Relief Trust & Kgalagadi Relief Trust


May we take this opportunity to thank the Asbestos Relief Trust, the Kgalagadi Relief Trust, the Glynnis Gale foundation and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat for the 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 and also for giving us the permission to involve other schools.

We hope the Youth Day workshop will perpetuate and keep on teaching pupils on a yearly basis.



Knowledge is power and it is mandatory to teach children about the importance of a safe environment.


Uploaded June 26, 2018


1Asbestos Interest Group, 10 Acacia Street, Kuruman, 8460; P. O. Box 898; Kuruman, 8460; Tel/Fax 053 244 0879; Email:



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