Newsletter November 2017

Hi All,

Daphne and I were at the Cavern from early in September for about 7 weeks. While there we were kept busy delivering of porridge, holding jumble sales, painting schools and liaising with the building contractor.

Read on to see what has been happening!!

Baby Boost

Cynthia and Fikile held 3 more workshops and then undertook individual home visits. All the visits were received positively. As this pilot project was so well received we plan to continue with another session in the new year when Daphne returns.

Marysia, who pioneered “Baby Boost”, visits us again for a couple of weeks next March, to advise and work with us to take the Baby Boost project forward. She, of course, will once again be heavily involved in assisting all 14 of our pre-schools

Zamokuhle School

As I write the Zamokuhle new classroom, after many delays, nears completion. Dumisile and all the teachers are very excited to have a second classroom as, at present, they have over 70 learners in the one room, which is far from ideal.

We are sure that in the New Year both classrooms will be hives of activity where the teachers will be able to split age groups.

Sbusisiwe School

Sbusisiwe school also nears completion and will be ready for the educators and learners to move in at the beginning of the new school term in January.

Daphne and I will be there to deliver toys, stationery, carpets and to help complete the furnishings before the term begins.

This school, which at present has 20 learners, will hopefully now attract more children. This has been our experience at other schools we have built and resourced
Hopefully Gertrud and Georg Rotter, who have generously paid for this building, will be able to visit us in January to see “their” school finally completed and operational.

Georg And Gertrud Rotter

In mid-September Georg and Gertrud arrived from-Austria, once again heavily laden with gifts, stationery, jumble, reading glasses, children’s sun glasses and make-up. After visiting the schools and giving out the various gifts, Gertrud and George helped Daphne, Liesje and I paint Hlelokuhle pre-school. We are very grateful to the Royal Natal National Park firefighters for painting the white undercoat and leaving the bright colours for us.

Our new Khanyisela signs have been erected at all the schools we assist and Georg helped Dave put them up at all the schools.-Quite a job as there is no electricity and the hammer drill takes lots of power.-

We are very grateful to Gertrud and Georg for all their help during the two weeks they were with us.

Jumble Sales

Daphne was once again overwhelmed by the amount of jumble ready for us to prepare and sell when we arrived back at The Cavern. Much time was spent watching (I’m sure mostly listening) to the TV whilst Daphne sorted and priced the clothing. We held a very successful sale at the Cavern which raised over R8000.00. There is jumble left over and this along with future donations will be sold in the New Year at the Cavern and also in the Amazizi area.

So if you are visiting The Cavern, don’t forget to bring some jumble.

Grade R Course

Four of our teachers have completed their Grade R correspondence course through UNISA. We and Liesje Carter, who came and assisted the teachers with their studies, anxiously await their results


Thanks again to the ladies for knitting more clothes, beanies and making more cushions. We gave out the cushions, but we are keeping the winter attire until next winter approaches.

The jerseys, hats, toys, cushions and blankets are always well received.

Rotary Club Of Retford, England

The Rotary Club of Retford continues to support us in many ways. Each year they send money to pay for the year’s supply of fortified porridge which is fed to all the school children each school day.
They raised money and paid for our very successful mentor programme which has just entered the second year. Recently they also sponsored 8 teachers to do the Early Childhood Development Level 4 course and we are happy to tell you that the ladies are attending their graduation later this month.
These are but a few of the many ways the Club has supported us over many years and we wish to say a very big “THANK YOU” to all the members and a special THANK YOU to Terry Dunmore for all his hard work. It is very much appreciated.

Project Funding And Donations

As we approach the festive season we would like to thank everyone who has assisted us over the past years. Without all your donations the ongoing assistance of the 14 pre-schools and 500 plus children we now help in the Amazizi area of Northern KwaZulu Natal would not be possible.

All donations, be it time or money, is appreciated no matter how big or small. It all goes towards what we think is a worthy cause in the hope that in a small way we are contributing to the improvement of education, which is so desperately needed in our beautiful country.

If you, or if you know anyone who wishes to make a donation to the Khanyisela Project, please
contact Dave or Daphne – – for details on how to donate.

Don’t forget that The Cavern, in an effort to get more donations for the Khanyisela Project, is now linked to “Pack for a Purpose”.

So if you are visiting from overseas or have family or friends visiting from overseas look at-the website to see how you/they can help. We have listed our needs on the Pack for a Purpose website.

Don’t forget to

Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful holiday season.

Dave & Daphne Thurlwell, Megan Bedingham, Jean Carte, Georg Rotter and Liesje Carter

The Northern Drakensberg Khanyisela Project-Tel : 083 512 0146

Newsletter August 2017

Hi All,

Daphne and I have been at the Cavern since early in May when we welcomed volunteers and donors from overseas. They kept us busy along with the delivering of porridge, holding jumble sales and arranging building and maintenance. Read on to see what everyone has been busy with!!

Marysia Nash and Gemma MacDonald Return

We were pleased to welcome back Marysia and Gemma from Scotland for a two week stint at our schools. They were joined by our niece, Nicky, from England who worked with them for a week.

This is Marysia’s comment on their visit.

Oh what a joy it was to return to crèches supported by Khanyisela Projects a year on and see such progress thanks to both the project and the wonderful mentors they have appointed.

A major improvement was greater awareness of the need to offer different play/learning opportunities for the under 3s and we were delighted to see the efforts many crèches had made. The educational games to develop language skills provided last year were also popular and with a bit more modelling and explanation, teachers were eager to use these even more.

Our time was spent helping teachers to extend the opportunities for language development and imaginative play and we were delighted with the response of the women. They were so receptive and with a few suggestions and help they generated their own very good ideas. Their resourcefulness and openness to learning is really humbling and uplifting and once again we left having had a really positive experience.

We hope you enjoy these pictures of our pretend clinics where ‘would be’ doctors and nurses are engaged in language, imaginative play and pre literacy activities.”

BABY BOOST – Marysia Nash

In May 2017 BabyBoost arrived with Khanyisela. Thanks to the project’s preparatory work and funding from Edinburgh City Singers, Babyboost provided support to enhance babies’ development by promoting 6 key interactions between caregiver and baby.

Developed in Edinburgh, illustrated by Carol Baines’ beautiful art work of Zulu families and with isiZulu translations courtesy of the Cavern, we provided 3 workshops attended by 12 caregivers and their babies 2-20 months.

What fun was had talking, singing, reading, playing, cuddling and responding to the babies.
We even had our very own Baby Boost song!

The work continues with 3 more workshops and individual home visits provided by the very able local women Cynthia and Fikile.
Watch this space! We are expecting Baby Boost to ‘take off’ in the coming year…..


The foundations were dug at the end of March but unfortunately the builder experienced problems with his sub-contractor and was unable to continue with the building. After much searching we have managed to secure another building contractor and building has recommenced.


At long last we have started building the new school. The fencing was erected in July and the building work will commence early in August.

Georg and Gertrud Rotter

Georg and Gertrud arrived from Austria heavily laden at the beginning of May and when I say heavily laden it is no exaggeration!! They arrived with lots of clothes for our jumble sales and lots of make up for the teachers who work so hard. This couple are amazing. They get donations from their friends and colleagues in Vienna and then distribute them with lots of love. Gertrud and I (Daphne) spent a morning putting packs together so all the teachers and many others received a lovely pack of makeup. We cannot describe how the receipt of the gifts went. Lots of whopping and yelling and some dancing was involved.

Not only did Georg and Gertrud bring lots of pleasure with their gifts they also worked hard at each school they visited and the children loved them playing with them and of course the sweets that they also travelled with.

Georg giving out sweets

Gertrud helped Marysia and Gemma with Baby Boost and the visits to the schools. Dave and Georg marked out and measured the fence at Sbusisiwe.

What can we say except, thank you Georg and Gertrud. We look forward to your next visit in September.

Share For Life

On the 1st of June Christina and Uli from Share For Life came and visited a few of our schools.
What a special morning spent with Christina and Uli. Christina’s parents came with us and Megan took the morning out of the office. They really enjoyed seeing the progress that has been made at the little schools we visited and even Christina’s parents were full of smiles.


Our two mentors Gabusile and Theresa continue to assist the teachers in applying their skills learnt at teacher training courses. Marysia and Gemma met with them and congratulated them on the progress at the schools.

Jumble Sales

Daphne was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of jumble ready for her to sort and price when we arrived, but she worked through it and we have held 3 jumble sales, one at The Cavern and two in the Amazizi area. Since we have started the sales in Amazizi we are constantly being asked when we are going to hold more jumble sales.

In total we raised R9000.00 and we don’t have much jumble left. So please, keep the jumble coming.

Once again we are looking for surplus dolls, teddy bears et cetera for our fantasy corners at the pre-schools. So bring them along as well.

Grade R Course

Four of our teachers have begun their Grade R correspondence course through UNISA. We have been lucky to have Liesje Carter volunteer to come and assist the teachers with their studies. The assignments are being submitted on time and Liesje continues to help by giving them guidelines on how to complete their assignments. In Liesje’s words “these assignments are hard and I am full of admiration on how well the ladies are doing”. Thanks Liesje!!


Sheila Snelling and friends have been busy again and knitted and sent us 50 children’s pullovers which we distributed in June.

Recently we received knitted teddies, jerseys, hats, cushions and blankets from The Teddy Bear Club and Mary Bennett. of Howick.

Dave Cousins and his wife arrived at the Cavern loaded up with knitwear for our schools from the Pretoria South Lions Club.

May we thank the Teddy Bear Club, Mary Bennett, Shiela Snelling and friends, Dave Cousins and the Pretoria South Lions Club and the ladies of the Rotary Club of Retford for all the hours spent knitting for our pre-school children. Also Veronica Ratsey for the cushions. The teddies, jerseys, hats, toys, cushions and blankets are always well received.

Mooney Ford

Mooney Ford recently made a donation towards our new classrooms and we were fortunate to be here when Ian King visited The Cavern. Although, unfortunately, the schools were closed for the holidays, we were able to take Ian and show him some of the schools including the fencing being erected at Sbusisiwe

Margaret Dunmore – Rotary Club of Retford, England.

It was with much sadness that we heard that Margaret passed away on Saturday 1st July. Margaret has helped and supported her husband Terry, over many years, to raise funds through the Rotary Club of Retford for the Khanyisela Project. This has included holding brunches in their back garden, collecting items and selling them at Christmas Markets and by no means least working with a host of ladies to knit jerseys, beanies and blankets for the pre-school children.
We will miss her visits to the Cavern and our pre-schools.

Margaret (third from right) on her visit to us last year


We would like many more supporters for our project. So if you would like to donate a small monthly amount to this worthy cause it would be fantastic. As we are part of Hearts for Hope we are able to issue tax certificates for any donations made to us.

Contact Dave or Daphne – – for details on how to donate.

Without all your donations, both big and small, the ongoing assistance of the 14 pre-schools and 500 plus children we now help in the Amazizi area of Northern KwaZulu Natal would not be possible.

Don’t forget that The Cavern, in an effort to get more donations for the Khanyisela Project, is now linked to “Pack for a Purpose“.
So if you are visiting from overseas or have family or friends visiting from overseas look at the website to see how you/they can help. We have listed our needs on the Pack for a Purpose website.
Don’t forget to like us on FACEBOOK


Dave & Daphne Thurlwell, Megan Bedingham and Jean Carte.
The Cavern – Khanyisela Project Tel : 083 512 0146

Newsletter June 2017

The importance of Early Childhood Development

There have been many articles and much talk recently about the importance of early childhood development so we thought we would share some of this with you.

Global experts report that a child’s early years are critical to the rest of life. Proper nutrition and brain stimulation improve physical growth and learning ability, while the absence of proper care and feeding in the first 1,000 days (3 years) can lead to stunting, poor school performance and lower earnings as an adult. Continue reading Newsletter June 2017

Newsletter June 2016

Hi All,

Daphne and I have had a very busy and productive three weeks at the Cavern. Firstly we helped to prepare for the Big5Hike Royal Drakensberg Primary (RDP) school fundraiser, then we visited the pre-schools to assess their needs and bought educational toys, stationery and tables and chairs. Next we delivered the fortified porridge and then we had a very busy week with two ladies from Scotland who came for two weeks to mentor all our teachers. Read more about that later. Continue reading Newsletter June 2016

Newsletter November 2015

Hi All,

We have been at a very hot and dry Cavern for a few weeks visiting the schools and assessing their needs for the new school year. Rain is desperately needed here and over all the summer rainfall areas of South Africa. Hopefully the rains will start soon.

We will be back at the Cavern early in January 2016 to help the schools at the beginning of the new school year. Whilst here we will welcome some members of the Rotary Club of Retford and be showing them the progress at our schools. Continue reading Newsletter November 2015

July 2015 Update

Hi All,

On a recent trip to one of our schools with some guests we were asked for our website address!! Daphne and I being of the older generation did not think of a “website” but we then thought that was a great idea and so “yes” our website has arrived. We still have some work to do on the site but it is accessible. Any suggestions will be great!!! Continue reading July 2015 Update