Rays of Hope’s partnership with Sparrow School in Melville that began in 2016 has continued to flourish this year. Thanks to generous donors linked to Rosebank Union Church, we were able to send 10 children from Alexandra (Ithemba Labantwana program) to Sparrow in 2017, and this year six new learners have joined the school.
Sparrow provides remedial and special needs education, with a strong Christian ethos. Not only do the children get a fantastic education, they learn that Jesus loves them no matter what their background or abilities. The teachers know that if there is a concern about our children they can contact our field workers at Ithemba Labantwana and we can work together with the families to address it.
The first day was filled with excitement and some nerves (that were quickly settled when the children met their teachers and classmates). On the second day we received a call from the grandmother of one of the children, who was so grateful as her grandson had come back full of enthusiasm, describing every moment of his first day!
We know that these six new children will be greatly impacted by the support they receive at Sparrow, and give glory to God as we think about the progress the children made there in 2017. Their attitude towards school and learning has completely shifted. From being fearful of school and avoiding it where possible, they now love their education and are excited about learning. The confidence that this new environment has brought our children is incredible. One little girl in Grade 1 was so shy that she would never speak to or look an adult in the eye, but she has now blossomed into a playful, enthusiastic, joyful little girl who loves to joke and have fun. Not only this but she and others have gone from not understanding a word of English to communicating with ease. Several of our children have won awards for effort, achievement or for being helpful, kind and considerate classmates.
Many orphaned and vulnerable children from Alexandra struggle at school. The trauma they have suffered affects their learning and daily experience while classes often have 70 students with one teacher, so individualised attention for those who are falling behind is impossible. While our homework club helps to fill some of the gaps, sometimes more intensive intervention is needed.
We thank God for this provision and for our partnership with Sparrow and look forward to seeing what God has in store for these new little ones.
By Jennie Morley (Social Work Consultant)