Vhutshilo Mountain School – February/April 2021 Newsletter
This year, with the odds stacked against us, we acknowledge the importance of providing Education, Social Welfare, Joy, and Hope in our children’s lives. Not only did COVID-19 expose the inequalities in the education system of South Africa, it worsened it to a crippling new level, where many children have stopped schooling altogether. Unfortunately, the already high rate of domestic violence in South Africa increased during the pandemic, resulting in our children often being safer at school than at home. And, sadly, the most severe effects of COVID-19 in the lives of children in South Africa was the loss of their parents to the pandemic.
In December 2020 the COVID -19 virus hit Venda very hard. We lost many people in our community leaving many families grieving and without income. The hospitals were full and it was quite a scary time for us and our children. COVID-19 spread through a quarter of the youth in our HIV+ support group. We are pleased to report they have all fully recovered. If there is anything that the pandemic has taught us, it is to appreciate each other, wear our masks and always wash and disinfect our hands, especially when we have been away from our homes.
This year VMS enrolled 61 students. The children are divided into four groups: 19 toddlers age 1 - 2 years old, 22 pre-school age 3 to 4 years old, 7 grade R 5 years old, and 13 students Grade 1. We have been credited a COVID-19 compliant school and we are doing the very best to keep our children and staff safe from the virus. We have taught our children how to properly clean and the importance of regular hand washing. Since the school opened, we have seen a huge improvement in children's physical health, and very few children have gotten the flu. In our nutrition program, we have added more healthy foods: two fruits daily, one or more vegetables and extra protein to maintain good health.
With more and more South African people losing their jobs, more families are left without food and basic nutrition needs. With government schools not allowing children to attend school full time, more of our children are going longer periods without food. At VMS we continue to provide quarterly food parcels to all vulnerable students in our care. This would not be possible without all of you. The VMS family and community very much appreciate your ongoing care and support.
Our vegetable production
Limpopo had heavy rainfall from February until the beginning of March 2021.
In this challenging weather condition, our vegetable garden still managed to produce vegetables to feed the children at the school and the community. In our nursery, we have over 10000 seedlings we will plant in our garden and offer to families to plant in their home gardens. The first seedlings will be ready to plant around the end of April.
Our Peer Educators have been given a slot on the local radio station to provide education and improve awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention and sexual assault issues. We are very proud of our peer educators for the work they are doing in this area.
You see value in supporting our little school, empowering and uplifting underprivileged children in Venda, South Africa. As we reflect on the end of the school’s 1st term on the 23rd of April 2021, and on our one-week school holiday, we value your role in educating and empowering our children, and feeding their families. The VMS staff members, our children and community send a huge thank you. We couldn’t do this without you.
Khathu Nemafhohoni, Director