There are a total of 67 children enrolled at Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori this year, amongst them 22 new learners. Of the new learners, 12 started in the first term, while the remainder will join us in Terms 2 and 3. The rural community character of Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori is emphasized with 5 sets of siblings and 8 sets of cousins amongst our learners this year, and nearly all our staff members being community members themselves.

After days of intense rain in mid-February, Coffee Bay experienced its worst flooding in living memory on Friday 17 February 2023 when hundreds of milimetres of rain poured down in a few hours. The flooding caused significant damage in the area with the roads, electricity and water infrastructure destroyed. The local Tyelinzima High School was also completely destroyed. Many local residents lost their homes and possessions. In the Coffee Bay area, 6 people died in the floods. The area already experiences high rates of poverty; for people that already have so little, the loss is truly devastating.

The access bridge washed away, with the remains of Tyelinzima High School in the background.

There was no electricity for a week, while access to safe drinking water for residents in Coffee Bay took many weeks to be restored. Damaged roads to many villages made vehicular access impossible, with some still inaccessible 6 weeks later. It has been a surreal, sad time. Sadly, a cousin and her two young children of one of our teachers at Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori were amongst the victims of the flood.

Local residents and the worldwide friends of Coffee Bay organised and appealed for donations. Sustainable Coffee Bay is managing the Coffee Bay Relief Fund and distributed critical support directly to the affected families. Bags of clothing was received and distributed to affected families, while we used financial donations to install Jojo rainwater tanks in affected villages to bring safe drinking water to those communities. The Kamvalethu Foundation also donated funds to support Tyelinzima High School during this time.

What’s left of the local high school.

Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori was closed for 2 days due to the heavy rains. Principal Gill was surprised and encouraged when she found 27 learners and the teachers at school for a normal school day on Monday 20 February. The learners relying on transport only returned to school 2 weeks later when the new access road was finished. Despite this, 3 of our dedicated little learners still walk 8 km return, as the road to their village is still impassable for cars.

It is only due to our funders such as Kamvalethu Foundation that we are able to support our community and provide our rural learners the opportunity to an excellent early learning foundation, two healthy meals per day and a safe, happy environment where all their needs are met. Even on rainy days, the donation of story books and Duplo blocks stimulate creative, imaginative play amongst the learners. The love of learning we inspire already surfaced when one of our new Mama’s reported that her child was crying to come to school on Saturdays. We are grateful for the opportunity to impact these young lives and the community.

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