Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori: A Beacon of Hope

Last year was a difficult year for our Coffee Bay community. Households depend on support from family members working in the cities, who were not receiving their normal income due to being put on extended unpaid leave or losing their jobs during the lockdown. The local tourism industry was also severely impacted by the lockdown, especially by the restrictions on local and international travel, as well as the beach closures during the peak summer season. Sustainable Coffee Bay and Ikhaya Labantwana were able to provide some relief during this period, thanks to donations from our generous and loyal supporters.

Sustainable Coffee Bay and Coffee Shack Backpackers distributed multiple food parcels to nearly 100 families highly dependent on the local tourism industry for work and income through the BackaBuddy initiative. We were also able to support our Ikhaya Labantwana teachers and learners during lockdown with food and hygiene parcels, which helped them and their extended families stay healthy and safe. This increased the community’s goodwill towards Sustainable Coffee Bay and Ikhaya Labantwana. Despite the months-long national school lockdown and the many other challenges that 2020 brought about, we had 20 students graduating in 2020 who have now moved onto Grade 1 this year.

Thus far 2021 promises to be the start of the rebuilding phase. The waiting list for Ikhaya Labantwana was over 60 at the start of the year showing how much the local community values our work and belief in what we do. Led by principal Gill, our teachers Nomonde, Fundiswa, Noxolo and Nokuthula started the year interviewing prospective parents and getting the school ready. The impact of the ongoing lockdown meant that we only opened our doors in mid-February for students. We had an exceptionally high intake of 33 learners this year owing to the openings created by our 2020 graduates and some students relocating or moving to other schools. We now have a total of 64 learners enrolled at Ikhaya Labantwana in 2021, the highest in our 10-year history. Of the 64 learners, 26 are girls and 38 boys. With this large group, we are assured that 2021 will be quite a busy year for our Ikhaya Labantwana team.

“We now have a total of 64 learners enrolled at Ikhaya Labantwana in 2021, the highest in our 10-year history.”

Last year highlighted the role and importance of family in our society. And family features strongly at Ikhaya Labantwana in 2021.

Amongst this group is 3-year-old cousins Isabella and Elimiyo Rixi, who joined their cousins Kuyintando, Lusisiwe and Lonitha at Ikhaya Labantwana. Indeed,

Ikhaya Labantwana has become a family affair with two or more members of 9 family groups enrolled at Ikhaya Labantwana in 2021,

Including the Rixi family. This shows how much Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori has become part of the Jonga village community over the past 10 years.

Photography Credit: Gill Holder