Old school gets new lease on life

2015-08-12 06:00
TON van der Smit ; Project Leader of Eye for Others congregulating Pastor Louis Farland of the Late Harvest Church in Ritchie and Chairperson of Moth(Miracle of the Heart).
Boipelo Mere

TON van der Smit ; Project Leader of Eye for Others congregulating Pastor Louis Farland of the Late Harvest Church in Ritchie and Chairperson of Moth(Miracle of the Heart). Photos: Boipelo Mere

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IT was jubilation and laughter all the way at the former Twee Rivieren School that closed down nine years ago, when the ambassador of the Netherlands in South Africa, Marisa Gerards, launched the Rainbow Project in Ritchie.

She was flanked by the CEO of Clover’s Mama Afrika project, Prof Elaine Vlok, on Wednesday morning (05/08).

The old dilapidated school is in the process of being revamped to host the Kagisho Centre for Children with Disabilities, thanks to 50 volunteers from the Netherlands.

Dressed in orange t-shirts signifying their country’s flag, the volunteers arrived in Ritchie on 1 August to get involved in the Ritchie Rainbow Project, identified and supported by Eye for Others, to clean and revamp the building.

The Kagisho Day-Care Centre for people with disabilities in Ritchie, managed by Christine Bahumi, will in future operate from the centre in brand-new classrooms.

The centre with 35 children has been operating from a two-roomed house.

Earlier in May the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, visited the centre and pledged her support towards helping expand the building.

That was after the minister realized that the children were all sharing one tiny toilet inside the house.

The biggest concern that Brown raised was that of hygiene.

The school, next to the main road at the entrance of Richie, already showed new life with volunteers in orange T-shirts moving about the past two weeks.

The volunteers will reportedly be involved in the project for the next two weeks, working on the building that has been abandoned for nine years.

The residents of farms in Ritchie, Modder River and the Magersfontein Estate also played a huge role in the success of this project as they have given their time, helped with funding and sponsorships and many more in order to help build the project.

According to Ton van der Smit, project leader of Eye for Others from the Netherlands, the volunteers had one year to raise funds for this project. Each person collected R30 000.

More classrooms will be upgraded where residents will also be able to attend courses to enhance different skills, such as for agriculture, technical jobs as well as frail home-care for people who have to take care of their sick relatives at home.

Van der Smit says the project is a South African one and that more Dutch people are involved in similar community development projects elsewhere.

According to him, the volunteers and Eye for Others are just the initiators of the project.

They will present various playing activities for the children for the next two weeks.

“This is a long-term project. Every year we will be back to bring more hope and opportunities,” he promised.

The team leader of the volunteers, Hanno Niewenhuis, added that it was a blessing for them to get access to the school after five years.

“We are a group of Christians and to get this school and use it for the community feels very good. There are many communities that we help after we get a message from the Bible,” he said.

Gerards expressed her gratitude and promised to continue to strengthen the ties between the two countries.

Judge Steven Majiedt, who is an additio-nal board member of the Miracle of the Heart foundation, said that the project shows a lot of potential as many sponsors from the private sector have already committed to come on board, and that a longterm plan has already been worked out to sustain it.

“We have managed to enter into a lease agreement with government to rent the building at a reasonable amount. We have also earmarked the plot opposite the school to use as a fruit and vegetable garden,” added the judge.

Past. Louis Farland of the Late Harvest Church in Ritchie and chairperson of Moth, said the community of Ritchie is very excited about this project as it is expected to uplift and better the living conditions of the community.

This small town is experiencing tremendous socio-economic problems, especially alcohol abuse. The crime rate is also reportedly very high.

Farland says he believes that this centre will enable residents to better themselves and alleviate poverty

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