Once again a new season is upon us, and with it, a growing nip in the air. In spite of the chill, the change in season is vital to us and all of creation around us. They say that winter is the time of year most flavoured by comfort and good food; the cold soothed by just the touch of a friendly hand and a talk beside the fire. In short, it is the time for togetherness. For learning, sharing, and growing.
It was with great sadness that we said goodbye to Debra Cairns, our brilliant psychologist and academic support teacher. She was offered a position with the Moshal Scholarship Program that she could not refuse. The goal of this organisation is to help determined students from challenging backgrounds to obtain high quality, sought-after degrees, which lead to successful careers. The programme also aims to develop a range of soft skills, values, and attributes in the Moshal Scholars that support them in becoming responsible and respected people in their lives and workplaces. There are currently nearly 400 students in the programme across eight universities in South Africa and Debra will be the Eastern Cape coordinator, where she hopes to help build the number of Eastern Cape students at South African universities through the sponsorship and mentorship which Moshal provides.
We wish her well in her new venture and look forward to her ongoing support as she continues to pour into OGS, both as a parent and as someone who loves all her past students, whom she has helped, advised, and encouraged in so many ways.
This term we were privileged to celebrate Tony and Arlene’s 70th birthdays and share the cake that Tony so generously brought for the whole school to enjoy. Uncle Tony, who has dedicated much of his time to development and building, is currently pouring his expertise into the construction of the patio outside the staff room and tennis court seating. He has also been using these tasks as opportunities to start training some of our students in the art of building. This is part of the skills development phase that iThemba is initiating. We are thrilled with his proactive participation, especially in light of the fact that he has recently had to go in for a second hip operation. We pray for a successful operation and a speedy recovery.
We do not measure our school by our pass rate, but by our graduates. Take a look at what our graduates have achieved.
Wesley Phillips graduated from OGS in 2010 and has since graduated from Stellenbosch University with an Industrial Engineering Degree. On a very exciting note, Wesley recently announced his engagement to Leanne Harris from the Graaff Reinet in the Eastern Cape and has also accepted a Project Management position in Austin, Texas, USA. He leaves in July and we wish him the greatest success.
Jordan Wardle graduated from OGS in 2012 and has recently returned from France where he earned valuable work experience working on yachts. He is currently working at his parents’ farm, Esher, while he prepares for the next season in his life.
Loyiso Gxothiwe graduated from OGS in 2012 and is currently pursuing a degree in Journalism at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. Loyiso has already authored an amazing article for Tarka Development Group (TDG), which you can find on their Facebook page.
Ben Friedemann and Abigail Wardle graduated from OGS in 2013 and have both recently concluded their 3 years’ worth of studies at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministries in Redding, California. Ben has been offered a position as youth pastor at a church in Port Elizabeth, which he will be taking up this month. We wish him all the best in this exciting new season of his life. We would also like to thank Judy and André Marais for taking on the role of spiritual mom and dad to both Ben and Abby while they were in California. They truly made their time there feel like home.
Pololo Vusani graduated From OGS in 2013 and, having been awarded a scholarship from the HCI Foundation, has gone on to pursue her studies at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. She is currently in her 3rd year of studies, majoring in Economics and Organisational Psychology.
Caroline Price graduated from OGS in 2013 and has completed a higher certificate in marketing from the IMM Graduate School of Marketing. She is currently in her 2nd year pursuing her Bachelors degree in Education from Stellenbosch University.
Brittany Phillips graduated from OGS in 2013 and is currently completing her final year in Somatology from the esteemed Isa Carstens Health & Skincare Academy in Stellenbosch.
Zubs Sunduzwayo graduated from OGS in 2014 and is currently studying a practical engineering course at Life Prep College in Durban. The college has recognised Zubs as one of their best students with regards to leadership skills and have earmarked him for lecturing in the future, as well as an ambassador in advertising the college for them. He has just secured a job at Powercorp, which specialises in LED lighting installations, which allows him to gain valuable experience in the field while studying.
During this term we have played host to a variety of amazing visitors. On the last two days of term, Talaya Frazier, founder of Cheyanna’s Champions 4 Children (CC4C) charity and her two daughters Talaya Ann and Cheyanna, came to visit our school all the way from Austin, Texas. At the same time Preston Crow and Ben McSween, two college volunteer students, also visited from Dallas, Texas.
Talaya and her family had visited us previously in 2014 and brought with them bag-loads of shoes that she had collected through her charity. The shoes were donated to the students and before this trip, her teenage daughter, Talaya Ann had gone on an American shoe-collecting mission. She managed to collect one hundred pairs, which filled three enormous duffel bags. At final assembly on Friday, the shoes were handed out to Orange Grove students who were encouraged to ‘pay it forward’ by in turn donating a pair of their shoes. The ‘pay it forward’ idea evolved after we noticed that a lot of the students from other schools in Tarkastad did not have proper running shoes at the cross-country event we hosted this year.
Ben McSween and Preston Crow came independently to South Africa on a hunting adventure and during this time, found a couple of days to spend with us and experience our community. The Crows have a long relationship with iThemba Trust and sponsor one of our students – Siphe Dakada. For the first time, Preston had the opportunity to meet Siphe and see how his parent’s generosity is making a difference in this talented boy’s life.
Each of our visitors got to experience the beautiful Orange Grove farm with our students as they joined us on a hike around the farm and ended up enjoying boerewors (sausage) rolls alongside the scenic riverbed.
After school closed on Friday, Talaya and her family flew on to Cape Town for an entrepreneurial conference, while Ben and Preston went to eZulu for some hunting – but not before a short stop at Port Elizabeth to watch the Boks beat Ireland in the rugby!
We were also privileged to have two families from the USA visit us this term. Ernie, Vivian, Jamie, Hanna, and Katherine Cory joined us from Mississippi, while Brad, Morgan, and Kathy Farris joined us from Alabama. Our students thoroughly enjoyed blessing each of our visitors with prophetic art. We are so grateful that you would all take time out from your hunt with eZulu Game Reserve to come and experience life at Orange Grove for a day!
Our school was also privileged to enjoy a visit from the Fountain of Life School and their team, led by Administrator, Des Joubert. Our time together was incredibly meaningful and they left here inspired by all that is happening on Orange Grove and from within our community.
Lastly, although certainly not least, we hosted the Accelerated Education Enterprises (AEE) Management group for their regional AEE meeting. It was wonderful to enjoy once again the unique opportunity to highlight what God has done amongst and around us. Not only did they love being out in the fresh, country air and our beautiful surroundings, but they were tremendously impacted by the joy displayed by our students and the great atmosphere we serve them in.
This year has seen the launch of our creative extramural programme, the Culture Club. The club takes place once a week and includes dancing, music appreciation, art and crafts, drama, and creative writing. It has been met with great enthusiasm and promises to produce some exciting results. We feel strongly that creativity is essential to healing, progresss, and personal development. Already we have been able to identify gifting and flair for different areas, as well as continued focus on blessing others through creative activities and prophetic art pictures. All in all, this venture has proved very rewarding and we have seen the active transformation in our children who are coming alive through creative expression.
This term has had its fair share of highlights, one of which was the successful “Tekkie Tax”! This fundraising event was held in honour of the Sparrows Child & Youth Care Centre. Not only were we able to raise much needed funds, but students and teachers alike had some fun, too, coming to school in civvies (non-uniform clothing), donning a crazy-face sticker or two, and even winning prizes!
A Night Out for Our Honour Roll Students
On Friday, 27 May 2016, all of our 1st Term Honour Roll students, including our seniors, were treated to a night of festivities in Queenstown. Starting at MacDonald’s for treats, before heading to Queen’s College Hall where they joined many other students to enjoy a Tree63 concert. The night was enjoyed by all and is still talked about as one their social highlights of the year.
First Aid Course
During the first week of June, Orange Grove hosted a First Aid training course for both Level 1 and Level 2 accreditation, provided by Anthony Harvey. The course was attended by seven participants, including Heidi Ferrar and Rachel Helm, both experienced nurses, Patrick Cairns and Asisipho Mabuto from the Orange Grove Outdoor Adventure Centre, Trish King as Head of the Foundation Phase, and Debra Cairns as part of the Equine Assisted Therapy programme.
The training was thorough, equipping participants to deal with a range of issues, even covering conditions specific to emergencies in rural areas, like Tarkastad. Participants received detailed training in snake bites, burns, and drowning, and learned to make a variety of interesting “makeshift” splints and stretchers should one be caught with an emergency out in the bush. They also learned that by far the most useful item in their first aid kit would be a roll of humble duct tape.
Breaking Musical Barriers
From 15 – 18 June 2016 worship teams and individuals from around the country came together to attend “Encountering His Presence.” This worship conference was hosted by Breakthru Life Church in Johannesburg and led by Pieter McCarthy, a well-known South African worship leader.
These teams come together once a year to learn and share their knowledge and experiences with each other, from song-writing workshops to invaluable teachings on hosting the Lord’s presence. Our very own school worship band, made up by several OGS students, thoroughly enjoyed their time and came back renewed and ready to release a new sound in Tarkastad.
We do not take it lightly that we have the freedom of being able to worship in our school and thank Jesus for this privilege.
During the first week of term, a group of seven senior students from Orange Grove Schools along with eight others set out on a mission trip to Lesotho. Lead by Dave Hood and John Heath, the team spent two nights at Semongkong Children’s Centre, spending time with the children, praying for people in town, and venturing out to the Semongkong Falls, the longest single drop waterfall in Africa.
Thereafter they headed into the hills to a remote village, where the inhabitants live like iron-age people, with little possessions, sleeping in crude but neat stone and thatch huts, sustaining themselves through their own livestock and crops. Because they have minimal contact with the outside world, they were weary of our team at first. After a few days, though, they warmed to the team and in spite of communication difficulties and through the help of a translator, the team prayed and prophesied over many of the villagers. There were miraculous healings and a few people accepted Jesus into their hearts.
One of the main aims of the trip was to have an impact on those that need Jesus and enable the team to put their faith into action and see God come through when they do so. It was an amazing time for all, exposing each one to the culture, mountainous countryside, and strangely tame animals of Lesotho – not to mention the tons of fun and hilarious evenings together, chatting and laughing.
Archery Competition Highlights
We have been happily overwhelmed by the influx of archers, to the point where we have had to split our course into a fun/beginners group and a more serious/competitive group. This allows each member to benefit from training specific to their level.
In addition to this restructure, we have also had the privilege of taking a small group to the magnificent Field Range in East London to participate in a two-day competition, which was a first for many in the team.
Everyone shot well, but Liso Mngqibisa stood out for achieving excellent ‘provincial qualifiers’ for both days. The trip ended on a high note, with a trip to the beach, delicious pizza, and celebratory firecrackers.
We will be shifting our focus to a different discipline from next term, to that of indoor archery and have planned to host a 3D archery competition on our range later in the year.
X-Country Day Fun
Our X-Country Day took place on the 4th of June and was attended by a great many students, old scholars, visitors, staff, as well as friends and family who came out in full support. The day was a great success, with many students participating. In fact, 14 of our students qualified to go to the National X-Country competition, which will take place after we get back for the 3rd Term.
The event could not have gone quite so well without Twizza’s generous sponsorship, as well as Uncle Tony and the team organising and facilitating the course of the day.
iThemba Trust News
It was with trepidation that Hannes Mouton, Siphe Dakada, and our principal, Jakes Du Toit, left for the Aquaponics Training in Salem, Eastern Cape. Partly because it was the busiest week of the term, but also because they knew they were going to encounter some serious Biology, Chemistry, and Maths during the course… thankfully, the thought of fish and plants excited them enough to keep calm!
They soon learnt that one can combine Hydroponics (plant and vegetable growth) with fish farming in a ‘closed-loop symbiotic system’ and that this system did not need much water to be added on a weekly basis to sustain it. Furthermore, they also learnt that once the system was up and running, there wasn’t a huge need for much labour to monitor the system in order to ensure lush, green veggies, and delicious fish. Added to this, the system doesn’t require adverse chemicals that are harmful to humans, like pesticides and fertilizers, making it the number one choice of food and fish production for discerning consumers.
Our team was taken through various working models of Aquaponics, as preparation to run our own systems and to see the various shapes and sizes in which Aquaponics could be done. A noticeably improved development in fish farming that the team discovered was that the oxygen content of the water, due to the plants and aeration, was up to four times higher than with conventional fish farming – an important ingredient for faster growth in fish.
They also learnt how, on a smaller scale, these systems could be implemented in each home in Africa, thereby supplying millions of households with vegetables and fish on an ongoing, sustainable basis, and with very little water needed once the system is in place.
What an opportunity for Orange Grove Schools not only to build a facility to do this, but to make it part of the curriculum of the school and as a result enable another vocation and business options for hundreds of pupils going through the school.
To one and all, we extend a warm and grateful thank you.
Fundraising and Compliance Workshop for Non-Profit Organisations
People First Foundation facilitated a Fundraising and Legal and Tax Compliance Workshop for Non-Profit Organisations in East London on 21-22 April 2016. As a volunteer at Tarka Development Group, as well as Sparrows Child & Youth Care Centre, Siya (one of our Orange Grove Schools students) had the privilege of attending the workshop. The two days focused on how non-profit organisations are established, how they should function, legal compliance, tax compliance and fundraising.
According to Siya, “We were greatly impacted by the in-depth fundraising and leadership skills development aspects of the workshop; skills which I know will play a vital role in our work in Tarkastad.”
As we move into the second half of the year, we take a few moments to consider the days that have passed; the events, the moments, the memories and the challenges that are turning into our tapestry of 2016. We consider the privilege of facing each day that comes, with God at our side. May you be blessed in your corner of the world, from ours.
Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! – Psalm 38:4