Autistic boy, 11, will finally be going to school after 'teaching' himself under tree

Every morning, 11-year-old Siboniso puts on his school clothes, packs his school bag, ties his school shoes and leaves home.

But he does not go to school. He sits under a tree near his home in Shongweni, near Pretoria, looking out at the nearby school. He opens his books and pretends to be a part of it.

Siboniso is autistic, and a combination of personal and financial circumstances have robbed him of the opportunity to learn alongside his peers.

But thanks to a non-profit organisation and a crowdfunding campaign, Siboniso's dream to go to a special needs school is about to come true.

Non-profit organisation The Angel Network got wind of Siboniso's story and started a Backabuddy crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to send him to a special needs school in the area. Siboniso also needs transport, and needs assistance getting on and off the taxis. He cannot get to school and back on his own.

Within a few days of its launch on October 31, the crowdfunding campaign had raised close to R12 000. When good news website picked up the story, the amount shot up, and now stands at over R50 000.

Mainstream school trauma

Glynne Wolman founded The Angel Network three years ago. It runs on social media and is now a network of 27 000 members worldwide who "enable, facilitate and mobilise acts of kindness".

She explained that Siboniso was sent to a mainstream school when he was six or seven years old. The experience traumatised him so much that he did not want to go back, and special needs schools in the area were simply too expensive for his family to afford.

Wolman says the funds raised for Siboniso will be used to cover his transport costs as well as pay for his schooling, and any leftover funds will be put into a trust for him.

Since The Angel Network's campaign for Siboniso began, offers have "poured in" from schools who are willing to help. On Monday Siboniso will visit a school that has offered to accept him pro bono to see if it is a good fit. 

Anyone who would like to contribute can find Siboniso's Backabuddy campaign here or contact The Angel Network online or on its Facebook page.

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