Wedding gift with a different helps many

2016-04-20 06:00
Carol Scheuer with daughter, Jo Scheuer and pupils from Fortmann-spruit Primary School.

Carol Scheuer with daughter, Jo Scheuer and pupils from Fortmann-spruit Primary School.

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WHEN Riem and Carol Scheuer married in 1989, rather than a conventional wedding gift, Carol’s new mother-law, Lettie Scheuer, instead gave her a small farm school called Fortmannspruit Primary School. The couple were and are active members of KZN Agricultural Union (Kwanalu).

Now almost 27 years later, the school has grown to more than five times its original size, boasting new classrooms, upgraded facilities and daily meals to cater for 142 children.

Fortmannspruit Primary School was founded in 1982 on Mooiplaats farm in New Hanover, by the Scheuer family, with just 28 pupils, two teachers and two small buildings. Registered as a Section 14 government school, it offers education from crèche to Grade 7 mostly to rural communities in the surrounding area.

Since inheriting the school, Carol and her daughter Jo have worked tirelessly to maintain and develop the modest farm school - investing their hearts and their time to caring for its children and their well being. Not only are they responsible for repairs, maintenance, water and electricity, they also look after pupils’ daily medical needs.

“We don’t do it alone though,” said Carol. The school has captured the hearts of a small group of Australian fund-raisers called “Dare to Care”, which facilitates fund-raising initiatives to assist Carol in her efforts to make a difference to the lives of the children at the school. Carol’s sister in Australia got a group of friends together to fund-raise and they regularly send clothing, education supplies and finance to help in the building of a better school and environment for the youngsters.
Their fund-raising has contributed to a new Grade R classroom, pay for a Grade R teacher and funding the purchase of 87 bicycles, so instead of walking to school and back every day, the children now ride to and from school.

Dare to Care is also helping to further the education of some of the school’s poorest and brightest pupils. Plant a Mustard Seed is one of the group’s programmes, which each year sponsors two graduates to attend the nearby Cool Air Secondary School.

“We wouldn’t function without these funds and the help we get from our Australian angels and our local community,” says Carol.

Thanks to Carol’s tireless petitioning, the children at Fortmannspruit are given a full meal every day, subsidised by the government.

“I fully understand why so many have washed their hands of the schools on their land, but I can’t give up. It is because of the injustices I see every day and the few chances that they, the children, have, that I feel driven to do something, anything to give them a better life,” said Carol.

“On a lighter note, I hope that one day, when my son eventually finds himself a wife, I will be able to pass our special school on to her as a wedding gift.” - Heather Mullon: Urban House Media.

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