Special education for Tshilidzini learners

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The Impact of Casual Day in your Beneficiary Community.

“Their smiles speak of the true strength of human resilience. These children overcome sorrow and hardship daily. Hardship that you and I will never know. And yet, always, they smile!”

Education is a major focus of many of Casual Day beneficiary organisations, not least Casual Day’s star performer Tshilidzini Special School (TSS) in Shayandima, Thoyohandou, an area outside Polokwane in one of South Africa’s poorest provinces, Limpopo. TSS has consistently raised more sticker donations than any other single participating grassroots organisation in the country over many years.

The teachers and parents embrace the opportunity that Casual Day affords them through marketing material and merchandise to supplement their funding. The school has raised a total of R5.4 million over the past three years, 40% of which they retain and 60% of which goes to 12 national beneficiaries: in 2013 they raised R1.3 million, in 2014 they raised R1.8 million and in 2015 they raised R2.3 million.

Tshilidzini provides education and shelter – it is also boarding school – for some 340 learners who would otherwise be shunned by their communities and left at home without stimulation or much of anything. The school provides services to children with physical and intellectual disabilities, as well as blind, deaf, partially sighted and hearing impaired learners. Each child’s needs are different, requiring specific teaching aids and assistive devices.

Most of the children come from impoverished communities, but they receive a quality education at Tshilidzini. They are the epitome of dignity and human rights.

When asked about the children, TSS headmaster, Mbulaheni Maluma, says: “Their smiles speak of the true strength of human resilience. These children overcome sorrow and hardship daily. Hardship that you and I will never know. And yet, always, they smile!”

The school was established in 1979 and its extensive buildings and grounds are immaculately kept. A portion of the Casual Day funds are poured into the running costs of the school. One of the most significant projects funded by their Casual Day donations is the perimeter security fence around the property which houses the campus.

Says Johan Viljoen, who spent eleven years as headmaster of TSS, going on to spend the next 20 years as National Director of NCPPDSA: “They have a large campus with classrooms and hostels for the boarders. They also have several workshops for woodworking and other practical activities. Education is very important to the community at large and this is evident from interaction with the educators and learners. It is a government school, but they receive only a small amount for each learner. They need to raise funds and get sponsors to fund the school.”

Despite their infrastructure being old, they do not let that affect their focus on learning and their academic success. Tshilidzini is a place of hope and a place of love, but it is also a place of discipline and hard work. Casual Day funding also goes to purchasing Braille machines, occupational therapy equipment and other assistive devices.

According to Maluma this year’s focus is on constructing a new ablution block as well as large-scale renovations of their aging buildings.

The educators and fundraisers of Tshilidzini are extremely dedicated. They have many children in need of shelter, meals, clothing and after-school activities. The school also has electricity and water bills to pay, in addition to the salaries of their educators, carers, cleaners, kitchen staff, gardeners and a nurse.

“It is my wish for these learners that they will receive modern teaching and learning resources. Casual Day funding makes a big difference in the lives of these learners, but there are so many amazing resources available in the urban centres that are not available here. It is important that Casual Day participants know how the funds change lives,” says Viljoen.

The teachers, volunteers and learners of Tshilidzini are the shining stars of Casual Day. They have raised hundreds of thousands for their own school but they have also raised millions which will go to the other beneficiaries. This kind of generosity of spirit is astounding and it moves those who know the children of Tshilidzini to tears.

 

About the Author

Andrea Vinassa

Andrea Vinassa

For more information, photographs and publicity material call Andrea Vinassa / Media co-ordinator for Casual Day Cell: 079 089 9835 Landline Cape Town: 021 790 6698 \ Landline Edenvale: 011 609 7006 Email address: andrea.flashpoint@gmail.com

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