Newsletter – First Term 2017

iThemba Trust GardenWonderful rain, enthusiastic staff and students, the sound of spades and paint brushes, riding lessons and seedlings growing in the well prepared beds, welding and building, music fills the air and it is well with our souls….this is what makes life on Orange Grove so special.



A group of fourteen mission students and their teacher from Valley Christian High School in San José, California came out to spend some time with us for the third year running. We were privileged to have André and Judy Marais, along with their daughter Jessie, the mastermind behind this trip, along with the group this time. The group started off their adventure with a trip to Addo Elephant National Park where they survived being up close and personal with a few giant grey pachyderms before arriving in Tarkastad and experiencing the warm hospitality (read lots of meat) that Tarka is famous for. After spending some time at the Outdoor Centre, they got stuck in helping at the school with devotions, class projects and sports. Some members of the group also got to spend time at our local children’s home, Sparrows, while others went to pray at the hospital. In the evenings they joined our local church Life Group and got to experience a night in the township. The trip ended with a tour of some crèches in the slums of Port Elizabeth before we joined the Walmer Methodist Youth camp, run by our very own Ben Friedemann, for a night.


Training for SportThis term our sports coaches implemented KinetiX Sport. This is a sport and fitness program that the children are loving.

This term saw various interhouse activities taking place including mini cricket, rounders and volley ball. After the calculations of all 3 games, Gemsbuck beat the Kudus by 5 points.

On the last day of term, the senior boys took on an enthusiastic ground staff team at soccer. After much cheering and excitement the senior boys won by 2 goals.

Our athletes have also been hard at work traing for various athletics events that they attended during the term.


Educators Conference in Port ElizabethThe Orange Grove Schools (OGS) staff attended the annual Educators Conference over two days in Port Elizabeth. It was a time of upliftment and equipping as they engaged in discussion about Christian education in Africa. Education in Africa is in desperate need of God-inspired solutions – and we are equipped to make a meaningful difference!

We have been doing research on many new innovative ideas to bring a holistic approach to learning at Orange Grove Schools. This has led to programs such as Mind Moves, NeuroNet and Kinetix Sport being introduced. Our staff have now been fully trained and have started implemting them both in and out of the classroom with astounding results already. They will be amazing assets to the school in helping our children with learning and physical barriers.

KinetiX is one of the most complete physical education programs. It has a holistic approach to address physical, motor, sensory and perceptual development. It is a sport and fitness orientated program developed to encourage movement and fitness in youth.
NeuroNet is a research-based learning readiness program designed to help students develop fluency in essential reading, math, and handwriting skills. It is essentially a brain gym exercise program. The program is done by watching and talking along with exercises, which are projected, on a board. Children improve their coordination of motor and cognitive skills in an educational environment that encourage self-evaluation and trial and error problem solving. Students practice counting, rhyming, fast retrieval of math facts and naming of letters, pictures and numbers. Learning through movement provides an environment for a unique student culture. It is also a rhythm-based program, which improves fluency and accuracy.

Mind Moves is basic movements that mimic primitive reflexes that was delayed or underdeveloped from conception to 14 months of age, to form neurological pathways to promote learning ease. We need our senses, brain and muscles to learn. Learning does not just happen, it depends on the flow of information from input (senses), to processing (brain) and finally to output (muscles). We do specific moves for certain learning areas. For example in the morning we do the “switch on our brain” move. If we need to do a listening activity or writing a test we do another move and so on. The children love them and often remind us to do a mind move.


Computer Classes with LoyisoLoyiso Gxothiwe, who graduated from OGS in 2012, started teaching computers to our Grade 2-6 students this year.

Lessons are based on CAPS and cover topics that students would normally learn in class, such as numeracy, literacy, life skills, economic and magagement science, natural science, social science, art and culture. These topics are approached from a technology viewpoint, using tools in the Microsoft Office package to perform tasks, particularly Word and Excel.

In Grade 7, students continue with an in-depth 5-year plunge into the inner workings of Microsoft Office, building a foundation for any work environment they could imagine after school. Modules covered include Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Word.

Agricultural Show

The Tarka Agricultural Show, which takes place every year in February, was once again well attended by our students, staff and families. Many of our students and teachers won prizes in the art section. The girls took part in the cake decorating section and our young budding farmers, entered the Youth Show, displaying goats, chickens and Dorper rams. Many qualified for the National Youth show, later this year.


Marelizé and Hannes with JakesThis term we say goodbye to Hannes Mouton, who has served the school for 7 years. Those years have been full of loyal support, care, feeding and help at all times in so many areas. Hannes was a father and friend to many of the young boys on Orange Grove and we will all miss you and the cacophony of sound that came from the coops. We wish Hannes all the best with his new farming venture.

We also say goodbye to Leon and Marelizé Poolman, who have been with us for just over a year. Marelizé has ignited a real love for music and singing and she was instrumental in staring the first Orange Grove Schools choir. We wish them well and pray blessing on their family and the new arrival of their third child due soon.

Barn Dance

Barn Dance BandThe 31st March saw the first Barn Dance at OGS. Young and old came to share in the fun . With barbecue fires high and music loud, the evening was danced away to music from yesteryear. We had our own live fiddle band with two violinists and two guitarists for the Virginia Reel, but as the musicians feet itched to dance the night away, we were thankful for modern technology to help the band out. There were lots of giggles and sometimes confusion with the big circle dances and some folks struggled to remember which side is left or right. Beth du Toit was a master caller with her cowboy helpers who showed the way for all the different steps of the different dances, including the Heel and Toe Polka, Big Mountain Circle and Oh Susanna. It was great seeing Uncle Jakes and Aunty Kitty dancing along and having a ball with students, parents and friends of OGS alike. Many folks wished they spent more time getting fit because these energetic dances left the fittest among us without breath. It was truly an evening to remember and an event that we hope will be repeated again.


Music continued this year with the OGS choir and music classes for 1-7 year olds. The choir grew with a few new members in all the voice groups. Being part of a choir is such a wonderful place to learn not only to love music and to develop your God-given vocal talents, but one also learns about hard work, persistence, discipline, the joys of achievement that delights the hearts of others and above all to all function and work together as a team. The choir ended the term with a short recital at the OGS final term assembly where they sang a traditional Xhosa song while walking into the hall, “Be Unto Your Name” and “I Was Here.” The performance brought a tear to many an eye and warmed hearts all around.

Music Fun for the little ones was, as the name suggests, great fun for all. Lessons are based on themes and always start with a hallo song, end with a goodbye song and the lessons always include a circle dance, fine-motor development, gross-motor development, instrumental play along, free dancing, structured dancing, story time, listening skills development and learning a musical concept. With the little ones lessons are focused on concepts such as high/low, soft/loud, fast/slow, etc. Students also learned about music from other cultures and continents, musical instruments and some music theory. Music is such a great and important part in every child’s development and you are making a great investment in your child’s academic future through music classes.

We had to say goodbye to our music teacher, Marelizé Poolman, who relocated to Paarl with her husband and family, but this does not mean that music will come to and end. The choir will still continue and so will the Music Fun classes and all this will be in the capable hands of Trish King. Thank you to Aunty Marelizé for all your hard work and dedication and we wish Aunty Trish all the best with this new musical adventure!

Marlow Visit

Marlow VisitThe 29th of September turned out to be an amazing day, when a group of our youth, visited the Marlow Agricultural School near Cradock. The directive to the youth was to set Holy Spirit fires ablaze. The worship team worshipped their hearts out and the boys told their life stories and how the Lord had impacted them. The reaction from the Marlow boys was not just polite, but a true response to the Holy Spirit and an interest in Jesus! We believe a fire was started and a number of young people were encouraged and challenged – the Lord is Good!

iThemba Trust News

Tarka High Staff Teambuilding Day

Tarkastad High School Staff TeambuildingThe year got off to a cracking start at the Outdoor Centre as we hosted the Tarkastad High School staff for a team-building day. There were lots of laughs as the teachers demonstrated their (lack of) co-ordination in the icebreakers before the competition got going. Amidst the clay pigeons and archery many of the teachers saw a different side to their associates. Debra Cairns gave some feedback on a personality profile and there was some motivational talk before the kebabs got sizzling on the braai. All had lots of fun and we trust the staff left knowing a little more about their teammates and the team became a little closer because of it.

Back to Nature

Thanks to the Mzuri Foundation and their donation, the introduction of our new school subject – Back to Nature – got going in the first term. Back to Nature is a weekly lesson in which the students have an opportunity to get out of the classroom and learn about the amazing environment they live in. This term we explored various things from insects to birds, leaves, frogs and much more. Many of the students have started collecting interesting things of their own accord to bring to class for everyone to look at. Everyone has had opportunities to hold various living creatures that they might have been afraid of before. We are learning which animals are harmless and which we should be careful of but most of all, we are learning to enjoy and appreciate the magnificence of the natural world that abounds on Orange Grove. We are always grateful to our kind donors that enable us to continue to grow and establish what God intended for this place.

Prayer Requests

We continue to pray for one of our staff, Marion Morgan, who is undergoing chemo treatment for a mass in her lungs. We know God is carrying her during this time and we are expecting a miracle. We would appreciate you joining us in prayer.

We continue to give God thanks for the complete healing in Kay Rose’s daughter Niki who is also fighting cancer. Kay and her husband Richard and family, are wonderful supporters and sponsors of Ithemba Trust. We continue to pray for them during this time.

Valentines Dinner

The Story, our own non-profit coffee and country shop, hosted a wonderful Valentines dinner for the community. Busi once again outdid herself, serving top class food. The Story was transformed into a red, romantic restaurant enjoyed by all.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorship for LuvoLuvo has been a part of our sponsorship program since its inception in 2009. He started with us in the preschool and is now in Grade 5. Unfortunately, due to financial reasons, his sponsors are no longer able to sponsor him. It would be very sad for Luvo to leave the school and program due to a lack of finances, so we are appealing for a new sponsor for him. If you or any of your friends are interested in a full or partial sponsorship, please contact us for details and cost.

Final Words

Our school term ends with a bang…..nothing small about Tarkastad and Orange Grove Farm! Orange Grove Farm is always budding with new ideas and flourishing with the established.

As we close for our Easter Holidays we pray for rest and remember that Jesus died for all so we can not only be saved, but have life and life in abundance……..hallelujah! God is good all the time!

"Somebody cares and always will.

The world forgets but God loves you still.
You cannot go beyond His love. No matter
what you are guilty of – for He forgives
until the end.

He is faithful, loyal friend, and though
you try to hide your face there is not
shelter any place that can escape His
watchful eye; for on the earth and in the
sky he’s ever present and always there.

To take you in His tender care and bind
the wounds and mend the breaks. When all
the world around forsakes…Somebody
cares and loves you still and God is the
someone who always will"

– Helen Steiner Rice

Download our newsletter (PDF, 5.96MB)


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.