VHUTSHILO MOUNTAIN SCHOOL (VMS)
Dresses for VMS children
Upon hearing of a nonprofit organization which sent dresses to poverty stricken girls in Africa, a local grandmother recruited her two granddaughters, Julia and Sabrina to help with a sewing project of their own.Together they created and donated 30 dresses to Vhutshilo Mountain School. The local press featured the family on their front page as an example of heartfelt holiday giving. Please consider taking the time to view the article.The story is truly inspirational!
Elisa, a volunteer in the Community Garden initiated and supported by the Vhutshilo Mountain School, and her young son both suffer from asthma. They were living in a windowless mud home with thatch roofing that had seen much better days. This living situation was aggravating their asthma and sending them to the hospital regularly. HFL donors provided Elisa with a new tin roof, windows and a door. Elisa made her own bricks and with help from family and friends, built a new home. Reports so far show Elisa and her son are healthier and enjoying their newly built one room home!
|Elisa's children in front of their new home|
Support for Thendo
After receiving a call from Thendos school saying he was ill, Sue-Anne, the Founder of Vhutshilo Mountain School visited Thendo at home. She writes:
|Thendo at hospital in Johannesburg|
"He weighed 11.5 kgs (approx 25 pounds) and looked like an old man!! The local Doctor didn t understand the problem. Some of our children have a late reaction to ARV drugs and he couldn't stop vomiting. Arrangements were made to transfer Thendo to a hospital in Johannesburg. Elias Nengwenani (bless him) drove him and his gogo (grandmother) down. She has no money to cover the cost of her stay and they could be there for awhile, nor does she have transport back. I feel terrible as we should have checked on him more often. The more children the school gets, the less easy it is to personally oversee all the HIV positive children who have moved on to upper grades. Please see if HFL could help."
1 month later:
"Thank your for helping Thendo. The Doctors in Johannesburg changed his drug regime as he had built up a resistance to his old one. This cocktail is not good, but is the only alternative. He is moving to a hospice to get fattened up before they will let him return home. He broke my heart when I picked him up he was so weightless."
Several weeks later:
Thendo came home 2 days before Christmas after a long stay in Johannesburg. Unfortunately the new drug regime they had to put him on is not very good, but we will monitor him carefully and hope for the best.
Sue-Anne reached out to Hope for Limpopo to provide for Thendo and his gogo. Once again, because of your generous support, HFL was able to immediately respond and money was wired the same day.We will keep you updated on Thendos health as we receive information.
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Building a School Addition
Recently we received a plea for assistance from our good friend, Sue-Ann Cook, Director of the Vhutshilo Mountain School. She writes, At the moment we are desperately trying to raise funds for 2 classrooms and a toilet block ...Funders in Geneva will help if we can (only) get initial funding for classrooms...
|Bricks for the new additions are made by the VMS Women's Support Group|
When we visited Vhutshilo Mountain School last summer, we were thrilled to see the new 2-room school that had been built with blocks made by the VMS support group women. It was a far cry from the original school which housed 8 students in the back of Suzi's mobile home. However, the need for quality education in the area continues to increase and her small school was bursting at the seams before it was even completed. The ever-growing VMS population of K-1 students is housed in the school's larger classroom while the smaller classroom holds the second and third graders. The hiring of a new teacher has allowed Suzi to separate 31 pre-schoolers and babies from the K-1 class, however, there was no classroom in which they could be housed. They were forced to use the dormitory of the newly built adjacent halfway house as their temporary classroom. Unfortunately, since this dorm room was built for VMS students who are battling with their strict ARV drug regime, the program had to be suspended for the present time.
Believing that education is the key to a successful future, HFL obviously felt that it was very important to assist Suzi in her pursuit of initial funding for these additional classrooms. Yet, a "desire to help" and "reality" aren't always well matched. We keep very little reserve in the HFL bank account convinced that your donations are better served helping the children rather than sitting in a bank. We are always pleasantly surprised, however, at how a generous donor always manages to send a contribution when we need it most and this was no exception.
This time, the Segal Family Foundation surprised us with a generous contribution enabling us to give Suzi the "initial funding" she needed in order to get matching monies from the Geneva funders. Mr. Barry Segal prospered in his business and became involved in what he called "the most important organization and experience in my life: The Segal Family Foundation. "The SFF philosophy coincides with HFL's philosophy in that "We believe that it is often not the amount of dollars, but the focus and effectiveness of the dollars invested that is most important."
Barry Segal founded Bradco Supply which is ranked as one of the nation's largest distributors of building materials. Once we received the breakdown of building costs, it made sense to earmark SFF's donation for the building of the new structure's roof since, ironically, Bradco began as a roofing distribution business.
To paraphrase the words of the Segal Family Foundation's mission: We continue to be grateful to all of you who ....help deserving people and improve the quality of their life....
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A new roof and floor provide a home for PhathuA new roof and floor were added to VMS's caretaker house to provide a new 'home' and on-going support and care for Phathu, a homeless HIV positive child. Read his story...
Phathu was born on the 9th May in 2001 On the 8thof May in 2002, when Phathu was almost one year old, his mother passed away. She was HIV positive when she died and it is believed that her death was caused by AIDS.
Phathu was born with HIV and started showing symptoms of the disease as a very young child. After his mother's death, his father looked after Phathu and his stepson, his mother's first born child, Mahlatse who was born on the 4thof May in 1994. The father was never employed during this time, but was receiving a disability grant due to an injured arm, and Phathu's child grant. He cared for Phathu and would buy him gifts of toys, however Phathu was often not fed nutritional food, which is vital for his health as an HIV positive person. His father remarried during this time, and he and his wife would often leave Phathu and Mahlatse at home, unsupervised for long periods of time.
As the stepson of Phathu's father, Mahlatse was not treated well; he was not allowed to leave the house unless attending school, he was fed very little food and was beaten regularly by his step-father. Mahlatse moved out of the home in 2009 to stay with one of the neighbours. Soon after he had moved out, public allegations started to arise that Phathu was practising witchcraft. Phathu was eight years old at this time. The newspapers described Phathu as a witch. Phathu's father and his new wife sold the newspapers to the people in their village, the story of witchcraft appeared on DSTV, and the family and the witchcraft allegations became known in many surrounding villages. After approximately three months the public accusations of witchcraft finally decreased. In December 2011, Phathu's older brother, Mahlatse, was taken in by the Sumbndila boy's hostel where his care, food and living costs are met.
Phathu lived with his father until April 2012, when his aunt took him from his father, as she saw he was not getting proper care. The father did not try to prevent her from taking him. Phathutshedzo stayed with his aunt at her home in a nearby village. The aunt is an elderly woman who is unemployed and receives an old age grant. While Phathu was living with her she cared for him, but struggled to feed him the correct food or remember to give him his medication at the required time. Phathu became very ill and underweight and several times he was admitted to hospital. His aunt would have to sell fruits and vegetables in the village to raise the required finance to transport her and Phathu to the hospital for his treatments.
In September 2012, Phathu was taken from his aunts home and came to live at the Vhutshilo Mountain School, where staff are specially trained to care for children who are HIV positive. At this school Phathu receives highly nutritional meals and the staff closely monitor that he is taking his medication at the correct times each day. The father has made no contact with Phathu since he was moved from his home. Caregivers trained by VMS take turns to stay at the Halfway House to look after the child. Since he has moved here he has gained weight, the sores on his body have healed and he laughs and plays with children even though he is 11 years old.