Posted by Vi Hughes on Jan 04, 2022
This past Tuesday, President Carin, who has recently returned from South Africa, gave us an update on New Hope School which we have supported several times over the past six years. This was a joint international project with the Rotary Club of Pretoria. We have supported them through local donations, a global grant and a GoFundMe Fundraiser.
Patrick Gibson presenting our donation to the school with PDG Linda Robertson & previous principal Dawie Harmse
She told us that this school for children with disabilities has a mission to help each learner to develop their unique, individual skills to be able to function to the best of their abilities as an adult in their communities. Our funding was aimed at helping the students, especially young women, to have a way to support themselves as adults.
As a result of our gifts the school has been able to equip and develop new programs in the Technical Occupational Phase, a Hair and Nail Salon, a computer skills room, a new sewing machine and most recently a laser cutter.  The school has partnered with a nail academy to offer a diploma program. Students can take a diploma course during high school so that when they exit grade 12, they are employable.
They also have a partnership with the Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Center to equip students with essential skills in a workshop environment. The laser cutter has enabled them to train all levels of students to take part in the line production process from designing and cutting through to finishing of the final product.
Carin van Vuuren getting to see the laser scanner in action
The school presently has 417 learners from preschool through to grade 12. They have a staff of educators, psychologists, physio and occupation therapists, speech therapists, classroom facilitators, a nurse, a social worker and a counsellor. They offer three streams of learning, Academic main stream, Vocational skills and Life skills. More recently they have been receiving an increased number of students with more severe disabilities, so their challenges are increasing. This means that they find they need more staff, a larger emphasis on vocational and life skills training. More assistants per room in turn necessitates larger rooms.  There is a limited social safety net for young adults with disabilities in South Africa and so learning a vocational skill to be able to function in society becomes a case of life and death for many of these students.
All in all, things are going well with the school. They are blessed with a wonderful dedicated staff.
They would like to once again express their heartfelt thanks to all the members of the Rotary Club of Strathcona and all of the other clubs in surrounding areas who donated so generously to the school over the past six years.  They wish us all the best in 2022.