So many vital young lives, so much poverty, grief, loss, heart break, trauma, HIV/Aids, zest for life, hope, joy, sparkle, resilience, fortitude & exquisite spirits. They can teach us all a lesson or two and certainly render us humble.
Ukulapha Community Outreach linked up with Slangspruit Primary School (SPS) 7 years back; an opportunity to reach, now 1050 lives, from kindergarten to grade seven, about half of which are orphaned and all are living in poverty.
We chose SPS for its sincerity and genuine desire to be a beacon of hope in the community.
Mr. Msomi the school principal is a kind and dear man, full of integrity and always hopeful.
It was soon clear that a sense of pride in their school and personal dignity would help nourish these vulnerable young souls. And so with two weeks to school opening for the new year of 2011, Ukulapha secured a handyman and his team (including young men and women from the community) to set about repairing the school’s classrooms and facilities.(more about school repairs here)
There were about a dozen ceilings to be repaired, leaking roof, broken or nonexistent gutters, about 140 broken windows, broken doors & handles, horrendous electrical wiring or none, no book shelves or cupboards, shocking ablution facilities (replaced the toilets, tiled the splash behind the hand basins and restored the urinals to a semblance of decency), repaired and revived desks, and painted, painted, painted until all of the 24 classrooms and ablutions were fresh and sparkling!
Through the generous and heartfelt humanitarian spirit of a young Victoria lad, Oliver Dason, we have been able to provide hearty meals four times a year, at the end of each term. As Oliver’s life became busier as he went off to university, the community of Oak Bay United Church joined in to continue in his footsteps. From 2017, there will be 5 special meals, the first being a ‘welcome back to school’ meal!
Thanks to friend and organic farmer from Vancouver Island, Angie Beltane, there is a flourishing vegetable garden at the school. Angie spent 4 weeks digging over and clearing weeds and digging in manure and planting rows of many vegetables and companion plants. She installed 2 huge water tanks and rows of irrigation lines. We are now harvesting vegetables for the school lunch program.
Angie also planted groups of indigenous trees along the entire one side of the school property, which were instantly fenced to protect them from the roaming goats! In time they will provide much needed shade for the children and also act as a wind break.
The Resource Centre that Ukulapha installed 3 years ago now houses a beautiful library thanks to our partnership with the municipal public library who have also placed an experienced librarian, her assistant plus a cyber-cadet to teach computer literacy to all the students in the 16 seat computer center. We are all thrilled by this hugely successful initiative!
As we continue to work with SPS to improve teaching and learning conditions, more and more opportunities unfold, and as funds come our way we are able to implement projects, thereby enriching the educational environment for all those young lives.
Our work is made possible via generous donations from many folks in Canada, the United States and South Africa. Ukulapha is the humanitarian work of many and I am exceedingly grateful to be on the ground in Slangspruit entrusted by you all. (more about our partners here)
Ukulapha Community Outreach, the community of Slangspruit and the children of Slangspruit Primary School sincerely thank all of you!