At the end of the Term 2, we had a total of 81 students in our care. Of these, 51 students are orphans and vulnerable children. Some of these children were born with chronic illness such as HIV/AIDS and 15 children live at a local orphanage, Takalani Children’s Home. These children were abandoned by their parent and some have parents in jail. Thirty of our students are from middle class families who can afford to pay tuition.
The children are divided into three groups: Toddlers, aged 1-2 years old, with 27 students; preschool, aged 3-4 years old, with 29 students; grade R, age 5 years old, with 16 students; and Grade 1, with 9 students. The academic development of learners is going well. With your help, the curriculum continues to include computer literacy as well as traditional dance lessons.
On June 22nd,we held a birthday celebration for all the children born between January and June. This helps the children feel special as these moments contribute to positive childhood memories. It was a wonderful day with each receiving an individual photo and a small present. The vulnerable children were given winter tracksuits, as we are experiencing a very cold winter.
We believe Vhutshilo Mountain School is more than just a school, it is a community project. We provide water for neighboring households (there is no water in the houses in the area) and help women and children directly, as they are the ones expected to collect water, clean, cook, and perform all general household duties.
For the past four months over 41 food parcels have been distributed. These parcels include vegetables from our community garden (every Friday children at the school take home fresh vegetables from the garden). Sometimes the cabbages are bigger than the children, and it takes two to cart them home. We are so very grateful to the community members who volunteer their time and effort working in our garden.
One of the families we help is of a single mother, Norah, living with HIV/AIDS since 2010. She has 5 children and, sadly, her 12 year old son is also HIV+. She is currently unemployed and survives on a government grant. After being a recipient of one of VMS’s food parcels in December 2021, Norah became a volunteer at our community garden. She arrives twice a week to work in the garden. On these days she is provided two healthy meals and offered vegetables to take home and cook for her children. Her life has changed a lot as she now has her own vegetable garden at home and is able to sell vegetables to her community so she can afford bread for her children.
We are excited to have received a R20,000 (around $1200 U.S.) from The Woolworth ‘My School Reward Program.’ VMS entered the competition in February 2022 and recently received notification that we won the cash prize! We hope to use the money to build new, much needed, toilets for the grade 2 learners.
We are in debt to our many friends and supporters and cannot thank you all enough for your continued love and support! In a world of uncertainty and challenge, we need to step up. We need to continue to show kindness and compassion to our students and staff. Working together we can make a difference in each other’s lives!Sincerely,
Director, Vhutshilo Mountain School