Vhutshilo Mountain School resides in the Nzhelele Valley in the heart of the former Venda homeland in Limpopo Province, South Africa, one of the poorest regions of the country. The mission of the school is to provide severely underprivileged orphans and children, ages 2 to 8, with the highest possible standard of personalized care, stimulation and education to equip them with a solid base on which to build their future.
The founder and principal of the school, Sue-Anne Cook, has lived in Venda for eighteen years and is extremely committed to the Venda community. In 1993 Ms. Cook co-founded the Centre for Positive Care, the longest standing AIDS Education non-government organization in the region. In response to an urgent need identified by community members concerned about the growing number of AIDS orphans, she spearheaded the Vhutshilo Mountan School Project.
Ms. Cook converted her home in Thathe Vondo village into two large classrooms, her pickup truck became the children's school bus, friends donated initial supplies including furniture, toys and nutritional food, non-profit community organizations and individuals identified the most needy orphans in the area, and the Vhutshilo Mountain School opened its doors in 2001.
The school struggled to provide twenty children with two nutritional meals daily, clothing, transportation to and from school, education and exceptional personal care. As available funding grows so does the school. A larger two-room school building with the potential for adding was constructed in 2004. The new building can accommodate up to 40 learners. Children currently attend the school in grades R (kindergarten), Grade 1 and Grade 2.
As the needs of the community grow and change so has the school. Other services offered through the school include; quarterly workshops for children on ARV's so they can learn to take control of their own drug regime. This has resulted in the children forming their own support group.
Your assistance provides the security for disadvantaged girls and boys to receive nutritionally balanced meals, clothing, preliminary medical assistance, ARV drugs and a stimulating educational experience.
The Vhutshilo Mountain School Director and her HIV+ daughter talk about the school and the Peer Support Group.
Meet the teachers and students of Vhutshilo Mountain School and discover the culture and community of the VhaVhenda people of Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Watch the DVD "Vhutshilo Mountain School - 2008 Diary."