2022 was a busy year. Our goals, in how we provide services to our children and the community, were challenged. Reflecting back on the impact VMS made on the community, we are grateful to have been able to educate, feed and provide the necessary support needed to our vulnerable children and their families. Many thanks to our funders, staff, collaborators, and friends who made this success possible. We wish you a happy and successful 2023!
The holidays are long over and it’s time for our children to return to school. We are eager to welcome our returning students back along with the new ones joining us for the first time. The week prior to the learners returning, the first week of January, our teachers were engaged in multiple meetings and coaching session. The training prepared teachers to ‘hit the ground running’ in regards to our commitment to the holistic development of vulnerable children.
The first week of the school year began on January 11th, with teachers and staff busy helping new students adjust to being back at school and, for some, away from family for the first time. On January 16th, once the new and returning children settled in, we began our formal learning program.
Currently, school enrolment is at 91 students. Pre-school is at 37 students, grade R at 21 students, grade 1 at 22 students, and grade 2 with 11 students. We have three educators and two ECD practitioners (student interns working towards preschool certification) looking after our children, 9 permanent staff and 3 volunteers. Of these, 10 are female and 2 male. We are also pleased to report that grade two is doing extremely well.
This year, children, teachers and staff celebrated Valentine’s Day in style. It was wonderful to see our children in vibrant reds, enthusiastically expressing their energy and love. We are so grateful that VMS continues to make good memories.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, our community saw businesses close and unemployment increased. Many ‘grannies’ (primary caregivers to our children) passed away and domestic violence cases increased. Daily, children lose their home due to the death or incarceration of a parent/guardian. Those most effected are the children and women of our community. For the first time in the history of Venda, the local children’s home has admitted more children into their care and are at their capacity. It is heart-breaking to watch.
At VMS, we believe education is key. We are working hard to educate, increase food security and provide support to the children and women in our community.
South Africa is experiencing huge electricity shortages. Our community is on an electric schedule. We have power 3 hours during the day and 3 hours in the evening. When there is no power, there is no water or internet. As we use borehole water at school, which we also share with the community, we cannot pump water which results in no sanitizing and reverting back to outside toilets. Without electricity it is difficult to make phone calls and impossible to purchase supplies at shops with a debit card. The school has no backup power system making life without electricity slower and more challenging.
Term four recap….
In October 2022, VMS was fortunate to be awarded a certificate of appreciation by the South Africa Woolworths’ My School, My Village, My Planet Program. Woolworths is one of South Africa’s biggest retail shops, and it was an honour to be chosen as a recipient. We are very thankful for their support and encouragement.
On November 25, 2022, we hosted a graduation ceremony for 16 grade R students. Guardians and parents, staff from the department of education and social development, and community members joined our ceremony. Students put on a great show for the guests showcasing traditional dance, drama, and songs. The children’s caregivers came to school very early in the morning and prepared lunch for students and guests. After the ceremony, we ate and celebrated as one big happy family.
It was a lovely day. The graduates received certificates and top students were also recognized. There were many positive responses from guests regarding our children's confidence and knowledge. This is a result of our hardworking teachers and staff. We are grateful to have them on board!
During the December holiday, VMS provided 42 food parcels to needy families. These contain maize meal, rice, cooking oil and other perishable and non-perishable food items. In January we distributed more food parcels, including plastic and paper covers, pens, pencils and stick tape. We thank The Netcare Foundation and other individual donors for making the donation of stationery items possible. Our vegetable garden continue to provide for the school and food parcels. We are very appreciative of the two women working and caring for the garden.
On behalf of the 91 children, staff members and the larger community, thank you for your continuous support! It is vital and very much appreciated. It allows VMS to continue to educate and feed our vulnerable children and families.
"For all you do—and for the kind, thoughtful way you do it—thank you."
Khathu Nemafhohoni, Director
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