Winter gave way to spring, but came back to visit; just to check on things, giving us all a chill down our spines, wind in our sails and a smattering of snow on the Winterberg mountains in September! Hurry along Spring…
In August we had a wonderful visit from Kay Rose, our dear friend from Houston, USA. Kay and her husband, Richard, funded the Rose block. Kay was also instrumental in setting up the wellness clinic at The Story. Kay always fits in like part of the family and gets stuck in wherever we need her. She was even seen manning the reception in Amelda’s absence. Imagine the confusion when the phone was answered in her strong Houston accent! We are so grateful for the continuous friendship and bond with them.
We also had a lovely surprise visit from our dear old friend and sponsor, Hilary Kelly from the USA in August. She has volunteered at the school before and crept into everyone’s heart and is a firm favourite of the children.
We also had a long awaited visit from Scott and Mary Bohannon of the Mzuri Foundation in California of which Scott is a trustee and acting treasurer. The Mzuri Foundation’s mission is to promote wildlife conservation and shooting-sports education. The foundation has helped develop and fund the Orange Grove Outdoor Center through annual grants that we have been privileged to have received over the last couple of years. We were proud to show them around the grounds, where they could visibly see where their generous funds had gone into. Well done to Patrick Cairns and Asi Mabuto for all the effort and work that has gone into making the Outdoor look its best.
We had a number of visits from new friends from all over the USA taking time out from their hunts with Ezulu Game Reserve to come and experience what God is doing at Orange Grove. Molly Mills Young from North Carolina spent a fun day interacting with the children. God really connected our hearts in a very deep way. In her own words: ‘what you need to realize is what this means to me! For years, my hunting trips were always just about hunting (which was great) At some point, I felt the need to do much more and so on a regular basis started taking blue bags filled with medical and school supplies and cross necklaces and bracelets. I still always prayed for God to use my hunting trips for His purpose, whatever that meant. As soon as I got home this time, I realized the reason for this trip was NOT about hunting. Hunting was just the vehicle that enabled me to learn about iThemba. There is SO much about this school that ties everything I believe in all together and I am excited about the future!’
Dr David and Beth Libson from Texas spent a morning at the school with Beth’s mother, Ruth. Ruth is an amazing woman in her 80’s that has travelled the world extensively. It was such a blessing meeting her. Dr David Libson has been serving patients in West Texas since 1989 with over 20 years experience in Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Infertility. The children blessed them with incredible life changing prophetic art. In David’s words: ‘Thank you for allowing us to meet your students and staff. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in some small way in your wonderful mission.’
Dr Bob Gwinn from Oklahoma also visited the school with his wife, Dallas, and son, Parker. Bob is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of animal eye diseases. He uses specialized ophthalmic equipment, testing procedures and surgical techniques.
Mike Aden from Wyoming, who is a personal chef for a family, travelled to South Africa along with his girlfriend, Lynda Defoe, and also enjoyed some time out at the school.
Paul Dalzell, who has hunted in South Africa since the age of 17, decided to bring his two daughters, Caelin and Chloe, along with his wife, Ashlee, from California to share his love of Africa with them. They took some time out from their trip to visit the school, which was one of the many highlights of their trip.
On the weekend of the 12 August, we had Duncan Stewart, a wonderfully gifted artist who uses visual communication through the media of fine art, with special emphasis on the integration of faith and art into a pluralistic, multicultural world. Duncan is proficient in traditional and contemporary media and equally engaged as a motivational speaker. Duncan shared his wisdom and his journey to becoming the artist he is and his walk with the Lord with our senior class. They then took some time out from their busy life to spend a night with their young family on Charles and Angela Price’s farm before sharing at Gateway Community Church.
This is an account of the events from the 2016 Cross Country National Event held in Ermelo this year by our passionate and dedicated principal Jakes du Toit:
The Eastern Province (State) Team consisted solely of Orange Grove Athletes. We stopped off in Bloemfontein on the way up, for a welcome break in the long trip to Ermelo. On the day of the event, the weather was a scorcher and we knew we were in for a tough day.
The competition was tough, with KwaZulu Natal taking the lead early on and keeping it throughout the day. Mpumalanga was hot on their heels and the competition was fierce, but our runners ran their hearts out, with great passion and commitment. Calvin ran so hard that he collapsed 800m from the finish line. I helped him up and walked with him, only to find that he was stone blind from fatigue. He had to hold on the danger tape for the last 400 metres, where the officials helped him over the finish line, exhausted & still unable to see – now that’s what I call commitment.
Simi and Jonny were neck and neck and gave each other a good chase. Siya and Elsheva ran well and came in with good placings, even though the competition was tough in the Seniors groups. Zukie did well after some stinging encouragement from Siya on the sideline…I recall him shouting: “Stop messing around Zukie, we want the Medals!!!” The younger runners came in with good places too after putting in great effort, with no other casualties from the heat.
On the way home we swung past Gold Reef City where one and all had a thrill on the amazing rides, with everyone sleeping like babies on the bus, except for the driver, of course – it was a privilege for me to take our team to the event – I was a proud Father over my brood of children!
The Team consisted of the following athletes:
BOYS: Siya, Simi, Jonny, Calvin, Siphe, Owam, Liya & Sabelo
GIRLS: Elsheva, Kaitlin, Zukie, Nolinki, Sihle & Sylvie
SACSSA Regional Athletics
On 2 September 2016, our selected team left for the SACSSA Regional Athletics in Port Elizabeth. We took a team of 36 athletes, staff and parents. Our OGS team did exceptionally well. We broke 14 SACSSA records and 44 Zonal records. Well done to Simamkele Ndlebe and Sihle Nqandela, who were in the top 10 awards for highest ABSA points. Well done the team, you make us proud. Thank you to Marchelle, Janine, Leon and Yolanda for all the effort you put in to train this dynamic team of athletes to reach their full potential. Look out in the next newsletter for how our team of 14 National SACSSA qualifiers did in competing in Sasolberg representing Eastern Province in this next, very competitive event.
Mr Jakes du Toit (Prinicpal) and Mrs Kitty Phillips (Administrator) attended the Administrators Conference in the lovely Natal Drankensberg, Champagne Sport Resort. This was a wonderful few days of input and encouragement to keep on fighting for a quality, Christian Education in these extremely turbulent times in South Africa, especially with regards tertiary education. We believe that God has a plan and it’s at events like this that new faith is built and new vision is gained.
The foundation phase teachers have recently had the privilege of being able to attend a number of very interesting workshops. They attended a visual discrimination workshop with a specialist from Pretoria. It focuses on what the eyes see, how they see it and how it is processed in the brain. Furthermore they attended 3 workshops on Mind Moves. Mind moves is an institute that specialises in learning difficulties for children of any age from Grade R through 12. They do moves that reconnect and rewire the brain in the areas where the difficulty occurs. It can be anything from ADHD to pencil grip. The teachers have already tried the exercises in their classroom and have seen very positive and exciting changes. The children love doing their “brain gym” moves. The last workshop they attended was the most exciting. It was based on a teaching approach called Reggio Emilia. It originated in Italy and focuses on bringing out the creativity within the child and how to combine creativity and learning. It was very inspiring and insightful. Orange Grove students have done a few activities based on this approach. We have had very positive feedback on these activities and the children have enjoyed every moment.
This term our culture club activities have been geared towards the upcoming talent show, which has become an annual event looked forward to by all. Entries are streaming in, and dancing, singing and convention items will be on the program. We also look forward to viewing a display of the art done by the students throughout the year. Parents can look forward to a feast of culture. We believe that the Culture Club idea has been a success in that we have been able to expose students to an array of different techniques in art, drama, writing, dancing, crafts and various forms of musical training, thus broadening their experience and enjoyment of their own creativity. We have also been able to purchase art supplies, musical instruments and frames for student artworks.
Oil Painting Course
In July this year a small group of artists gathered at the Gateway church with renowned wildlife artist and art teacher, Steven Townley Basset. Among them was Elsheva van Dyk and Michelle Ledoux from Orange Grove Schools. Three consecutive days were spent learning and absorbing from Steven with stunning results.
Steven is also an expert on South African rock art and makes himself available to take groups to famous and interesting rock art sites in the Eastern Cape. He also lectures on the cultural and mystical aspects of our indigenous rock artists.
Since March, our computer classes have grown in popularity and influence. While some younger students were apprehensive at first, they gradually adjusted to the computer lab and those things somewhere between cellphones and televisions which the older children call “laptops.”
It is not uncommon, these days, to hear parents comment that their laptops are not theirs anymore with a c’est la vie expression.
While the classes may seem like fun and games on the surface, students learn a variety of skills subconsiously. In the lower grades these include menu layouts, click-and-drag, double-click and using tools in programs to create shapes and colours. As they progress, they are introduced to Microsoft Office and its myriad of tools and functions, in preparation for the SkillsPro Microsoft Office modules they will start when they commence Grade 7.
It’s not all about computers though. Lessons are designed to complement class-work, and are aligned to the National CAPS.
We ended the term with our students, Uyanda Gxothiwe and Danny du Randt, graduating. We honored them with a graduation dinner at the Story, with friends, family and staff. Well done on finishing your educational race, strong.
iThemba Trust News
Orange Grove Equine Academy
The Orange Grove Equine Academy got underway this quarter. In September three horses, Hazel, Kit-Kat and Azariah were added to the existing team of Thomas, Angel and Hannah that have been on Orange Grove for some time. The focus before has been on Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) with the vision of starting more formal riding lessons.
In the third week of October, Beth du Toit and Daniel Johnson took the grades 1-4 during break times for open riding sessions where the children each got to ride a horse.
The riding lessons are formally starting from the 1st of November with the aim to teach the children riding skills as well as horse behavior and management. The future plans are to build stables for the horses, so that it will be possible to teach stable management skills as well.
With the help of donations we would like to build up tack, equipment and funds to build the stable block to set this part of the vision in motion.
Horses seem to have an affinity for healing effects on people. Fun and enjoyment can come out of working with horses. They are large and often intimidating creatures, which allows participants to gain trust with the animal. The horse gives you immediate feedback about your own actions and body language through mirroring. If you are tense and nervous, the horse will mirror this feeling. You learn to act and react appropriately. We are excited about this and grateful for two young adults like Beth and Daniel who have the passion to run with this project.
Junior Hunters Course
Two Junior Hunters Courses were held in the September/October holiday period at the Orange Grove Outdoor Centre. Patrick Cairns and Asisipho Mabuto faciliated these courses, with Dave Hood contributing the sections on tracking animals in the bush. The first course included two brothers all the way from Australia, with their mom, Penny, accompanying them, and joining in the adventure with sufficient enthusiasm to even participate in the hunting by shooting her first buck in South Africa.
The second course was an exciting joint venture with Carl van Zyl and the John X Foundation, who were able to get funding from generous international hunters in order to sponsor an entire Junior Hunters Course for 8 previously disadvantaged students from the Eastern Cape. Most of these boys had never had the opportunity of holding a gun before, and came from township areas, where they had never been exposed to hunting, or to the idea of hunting as part of a larger scale conservation ethos. The course can no doubt be said to have had a huge positive impact on these boys’ lives, as not only did they learn about subjects such as conservation, animal identification, shot placement, gun safety etc, but they also received generous gifts from the sponsors of the project: sleeping bags, pillows, clothing and rucksacks. The boys returned to their communities with much to share, and perhaps a lifelong interest in hunting, conservation and the outdoors kindled in this once in a lifetime experience. The Outdoor Centre would like to thank John X Safaris for the opportunity to work with them on such an exciting and meaningful project, and look forward to more opportunities to co-operate together in the future.
As the earth is parched by the scorching rays of the sun, the heat burns up the green vegetation. It burns up the new, fresh shoots of the newly planted crops trying to push through. Grasses are dry and pale. Nothing on the earth is left unscathed by the sweeping rage of drought. Day by day, water in rivers and reservoirs get less and less and then altogether dry up. The green beauty of trees and plants fade away. The thirsty birds perch on the dry twigs with their beaks open. Nature and animals thirst in a parched land. The farmers look up into the sky, desperate for any sign of relief. The East wind continues to blow…drought, terrible drought…Please pray with us for relief. Physical and spiritual rain…“let it rain, open the flood gates of heaven, let it rain…”
Orange Grove Farm continues to be an oasis of life, with young lives being fed, nurtured and inspired by those that serve the vision, and the children that are privileged enough to be able to drink of the water that never runs dry at a place called Orange Grove.
They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. – Psalm 36:8