Our Royal Drakensberg Primary has been going for just over 10 years. It started because we needed to educate our own children and driving to town daily just wasn’t an option. It grew from 16 little people in 2007 to almost 80 in 2018. Most of the little people come from our local Amazizi Village and many require support to attend our school.
It was interesting that people commented that we’d close the doors once our own children graduated. Honestly, there are days when it does feel totally overwhelming and we do wonder, but inevitably someone stronger in the family reminds us about how fabulous it really is and what a difference we can make.
One of the greatest challenges is to raise funds. We need about R2 million each year to cover salaries, transport and running costs of this precious place. The big problem is that it all looks so good that people wonder why it would need anything more… and so we have been wondering about HOW we share this story and gather more interest and greater support.
Well, isn’t it fascinating that people come into our lives and suddenly an opportunity is sparked? We’d been so fortunate to host the Top Billing team and meet their talented Director of Photography, Mfundo. After a night of sleeplessness and wondering I emailed and asked if maybe there’d be a little free time to try and tell the RDP (Royal Drakensberg Primary) child’s story. And, yes… he’d make a plan. He’d travel in the deep of night to help us. This is an exceptional man and we’re so grateful to him.
So, last Friday, we met at 5am on the Front Lawn and trekked across to Amazizi. The sun was coming up, the Amphitheatre mountain was a subtle pink and the early morning sounds were delightful. Chickens clucked, people stirred and there was the gentle hum of engines as the early morning commute began.
We were welcomed into Idah’s home. The children were snuggled in their beds waiting for the filming to begin. They rose, brushed teeth, dressed proudly in their uniforms and ate their porridge before finding their taxi ride to school. Life in these communities is challenging. Water is still collected, homes need heating and supplies are far away but it’s a space where one always feels welcomed and it is such an enormous privilege to help the children.
We hung out at the taxi rank, a very rudimentary space with a small tuckshop, but plenty of comings and goings. My folks have just returned from Australia and had said how organised and efficient it all is. As Loretta, my cousin, and I waited and watched we marvelled at how life happens and does work in this place too. Children get to school, parents get to work and everyone makes a plan.
The morning activity and filming captured the community. The comments were great, everyone played along and we hope to have portrayed the essence of life in the mountains.
We hope that our morning will tell a story of a community and its children and the desperate need for a quality start. These children come from their small homes into bright and beautiful classrooms, properly resourced with a dedicated team of teachers. They receive a bowl of porridge, they are showered with love, they are encouraged to be the best they can be and they learn and grow.
Essentially we all hope for the same things – our children to be happy, to have the best start and to be what their hearts desire… It’s just a chance at a significant life. What we do know and have learnt that this starts well before formal schooling and so children turning 4 come to us to be stimulated, loved, supported and encouraged. Their brains grow and they are open to learning and when the real formal stuff happens in Grade 1, they are far better prepared.
Everything that is good requires work and we will continue to tell our story and to bring others on board to make a proper difference. The thing is when you do GOOD it comes back. It comes back a hundred fold and is the source of what we all desire – happiness. Maybe even more than that. Joy, the deep-in-your-bones kind of joy.