Newsletter April 2020 A

Hi All,

We returned to The Cavern at the end of January to welcome two Belgian students who were going to spend their 12 week internship helping in the Khanyisela pre-schools. Little did we know how things would change before those 12 weeks went past.

New School Year

Although we arrived a bit later than normal, one of our first tasks, when delivering the fortified porridge, was to establish the schools needs for the next few months. Lists were made, consolidated into shopping lists for online purchases and town (Pietermaritzburg) purchases.

Over the next couple of weeks everything was bought and prepared (Dave assembled flat pack stoves and sink units) for delivery.

A few deliveries were done including pigeon hole units, jungle gym, swings and the March fortified porridge.

The remainder of the deliveries were planned after the school holidays at the end of March/early April along with the April porridge deliveries. This obviously is on hold until, who knows when???

Little Flowers New Building

Little flowers school is located in a small 1.5 x 3.0m room. It has 2 educators and at the moment 10 children. We were very fortunate that one of our board members, Georg Rotter and his wife Gertrud, through their charity SORO, in Austria, offered to fund the building of a new school building.
We started by erecting a fence and gates and the building work was due to start on Monday 30th March.

In anticipation of a lockdown we postponed the start of building work and will commence when the “State of Disaster” is over and it is safe to do so.

Belgian Students

On meeting Sarah and Maxime we knew that they were going get to work quickly and with lots of enthusiasm. We were right. At each school they were placed they straight away made a difference. The teachers loved them and the children loved them as well. They were willing to help with everything that we needed to achieve. They assisted with our Baby Boost Sessions, our jumble sales and with making great resources from what they found at the schools.

Unfortunately due to the world’s pandemic the students were called back to Belgium early but the difference they made in the time they were here was just great. Thanks also to the lovely donation they left us. We are pleased to report that Sarah and Maxime made it back to Belgium and are both well after two weeks and now in more isolation.

Baby Boost

It was a flying visit to Khanyisela and the Babyboost project this March and Marysia just slipped in before the lockdown.

Amazingly 100 kg of beautiful donated second hand educational toys made their way safely via British Airways and were duly sorted into two playgroups and one toy library. What a colourful array of fun and opportunities for development.

Besides the toy sorting, there was time for Marysia to attend to Babyboost coaching sessions in each of the new locations and to catch up on one of our playgroups that has been running for a little while.

Marysia was delighted to see how well the local team was managing to deliver the programme and how much the carers and their babies were enjoying participating. Learning should be motivating and fun and there was plenty evidence of that!

There was also time for training, with a Saturday morning follow-up workshop to Khanyisela preschool teachers on supporting babies’ development in their schools.

Finally there was some very special time with the local team Irene, Fikile and Sbonolelo, discussing progress, refining practice and looking at videos of carer child interaction, identifying the positives and areas for development.

Marysia looks forward to returning when the world gets back to normal and to building an even brighter future with Daphne, Dave, Megan and the local team


On Saturday the 14th March we welcomed the Khanyisela teachers to The Cavern for a workshop hosted by Marysia Nash and the Royal Drakensberg Primary staff. The taxis rolled in from our neighbouring community and we were pleased to have more than 40 ladies join us for the morning.

The morning was split in two, firstly Marysia presented. Marysia had been with us to continue with the implementation of the BabyBoost programme which focuses on the first 1000 days of life. Many of our schools in the Amazizi Village have babies and so it was a wonderful opportunity to talk about what we, as care givers, can do to stimulate babies during this important time of development. Sing to your baby, talk to your baby, your baby loves your touch, respond to your baby when they coo or cry… and so ideas were shared within a safe space. We are now in the process of giving each school a “baby box” which will have toys, books and reminders to keep up this important work.

The Royal Drakensberg teachers then had 8 different activities, using the natural environment, to aid learning. Teachers shared stories, activities, creative tasks and the Khanyisela ladies moved around from one activity to the next, getting a chance to experience it all. It is always a wonderful opportunity to build on each other’s knowledge and to take new ideas back for teaching. It provides a stimulating space for all the teachers to grow.

Since our focus was the environment, each teacher took home a bamboo toothbrush and we spoke of the important work we all do in teaching our children about conserving the natural environment around us.

We had wonderful tea and we are most grateful to the N3TC who is sponsoring these informative gatherings in 2020. It was indeed a wonderful success!

Jumble Sales

As is normally the case when we get back to the Cavern there was a storeroom full of jumble donated by guests, friends and family. Daphne religiously sorted and priced all the items ready for holding sales.

Two sales were held, one at the Cavern and one at Sivuleleni pre-school. Both were well attended and the Belgian students assisted us. It was quite an experience for them. We raised over R6000 for the project.

A further sale was planned in the amaZizi village for the end of March after grants had been paid, but sadly this could not take place.

Maybe during this lockdown you can spend time going through cupboards and wardrobes sorting out clothes you no longer use to bring to The Cavern when this is all over!

Big5hike For Education – Save The Date

Due to the lockdown, sadly it has been decided that with so much uncertainty, we need to postpone the annual Royal Darkensberg Primary Big5Hike fundraiser until 2021.

Save The Date 2021 – 22nd May

Project Funding And Donations

At the moment no one has any idea when a sense of normality will return after this coronavirus pandemic is over. I think it will be a long time before it is over and then we will have a very different “normal” than we have experienced in the past.

But, we will get over it, and we will continue to assist our 18 pre-schools and the BabyBoost Programme.

Don’t forget to like us on FACEBOOK

Keep safe and keep well during these uncertain times.

Best wishes to you all,

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

The Northern Drakensberg Khanyisela Project Tel : 083 512 0146

Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) No: 190-132 NPO
Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) No: 930059368

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top