Vhutshilo Mountain School has been buzzing with activity and, while positive academically, we have also faced a few challenging situations.
In July, Vhuthsilo Mountain students entered the Nzhelele East Circuit Spelling, Reading, and Storytelling Competition. VMS was represented by five students; two from Grade R who participated in the Reading and Storytelling Competition and three from Grade 1 who participated in the Spelling Bee. They competed with area teams from both private and government schools. Our students made a good impression in their school uniforms, were exceptionally well-behaved and outstanding in their areas of competition. Grade R won 1st and 2nd place in Storytelling and Grade 1 students took 1st place in the Spelling Bee.
The next stage of the competition was in August, with our winning students competing with the top three Nzhelele East Circuit students. Grade R student, Wanga S., won first place in Storytelling in English, amongst all the learners in the Nzhelele area. Wanga then went to the next level, competing with all Grade R pupils from Nzhelele West Circuit and continued in 1st place! We are very proud of these students and their teacher, Ms. Mukwevho, for representing our school so well. This also confirms that we are academically one of the best schools in the village!
September was heritage month in South Africa. On the 23rd of September, Heritage Day, VMS celebrated our students, teachers and staff. Staff and children dressed in traditional attire and performed their traditional dances. The day was enjoyed by all!
Here in SA, we are experiencing electricity shortages resulting in shared power outages among the districts. There are several power sharing stages and we are currently in stage six; we have no electricity for 4 hours each day and 4 hours each night. This is problematic because when there is no electricity we have no water. We are looking into other means of producing electricity but the costs seem prohibitive.
Over the last three months we were plagued by a gang of criminals attempting to steal children on their way to and from schools. It was a very difficult time for teachers, staff and parents, who worried about the safety of their children. Vhutshilo Mountain School sprang into action; hiring a security guard, installing an alarm system that connected to the local police station and maintaining a locked gate at all times. None of our children were abducted and with community help the police were able to identify a suspect and accomplices.
With the colder weather here, most families have fires to keep warm, heat water and cook. In July, three VMS students were hospitalized from accidents involving home fires. One such accident occurred when 3 year old Tshifihiwa was sitting next to the fire where her aunty was preparing hot water for bathing, Tshifihiwa’s sibling accidentally stepped on a block of wood and water spilled onto Tshifihiwa’s legs. She was badly burned and spent 3 weeks in the hospital followed by daily visits to the clinic after discharge. Added to this, these families were not able to access burn medicine due to government hospitals experiencing medical supply shortages. However, VMS was able to find the medicine outside of the government hospital and we purchased them for the families.
VMS was proactive in initiating and hosting meetings to inform parents about fire safety concerns, how to protect children from burn accidents and basic first aid practices. It was a well-attended meeting where elderly parents and guardians shared their traditional first aid and learned modern medical care following a burn, as well as follow up care. VMS provided thirty-six sizable food parcels to families in need to ensure children had food during the school holiday. Of course, the vegetables in the packets were from our gardens!
And now we are at the beginning of the summer months, when water is limited due to lack of rain. We are very grateful that here at VMS we have a borehole and are able to share our water with the surrounding community.
We have completed the building, plumbing, and plastering for extra toilets for the school children. We are currently installing window glass and doors and expect the work will be completed in November.
All systems look good for us to add grade 2 in 2023, resulting in all grade 1 students returning for another year of learning! We have so many to thank for helping continue to support our teachers, staff and students. Ridgeway College in Makhado grade 10 students collected second-hand clothing and food for our students. Each year these 10th graders visit our school, painting and decorating our classrooms so VMS students return to updated and clean classrooms. We are so grateful for their support.
A member of the VMS support group since 2008, Khuthadzo Manage attended skills training program at VMS (subsidized by Hope For Limpopo supporters). We are proud to announce she has a permanent job in Johannesburg at one of South Africa’s larger companies that produces clothing for Police Officers. Thankful for the training, Khuthadzo has offered to buy the material and sew graduation gowns for VMS students as her way of giving back to the VMS community. Thank you Khuthadzo! Khuthadzo also sends her gratitude to all of you, our VMS family and supporters. Another former VMS student has offered to provide graduation gowns to students graduating this year.
Being Director is not always an easy job, but the support for sponsors, the local community and board members make it so much easier! With everything we have experienced over the last few years the teachers, staff and I continue to love what we do.
As we reflect on our school achievements, we send a special thank you to our sponsors; Hope for Limpopo, The Scotland churches, and to those individuals in the UK, USA, and SA. To Jo Ann and Nancy and Monica and Less we are incredibly grateful for your support and for keeping our US and UK sponsors updated. We couldn’t do this without you and our donors. We are forever grateful.
Khathu NemafhohoniDirector, Vhutshilo Mountain School
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