Small gesture helps struggling centre

Lee-Anne Butler

A SPECIAL needs school in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas, which is facing closure if it does not receive assistance, has been given a small lifeline thanks to sponsorship from employees at General Motors South Africa (GMSA).

Ithemba Special Day Care Centre in Windvogel says employees from the company have agreed to assist by taking part in its “adopt a child scheme”, where they contribute between R100 to R300 per month for one child’s tuition and nutrition needs.

The centre, one of several run by the Port Elizabeth Mental Health Society in the Eastern Cape, cares for about 44 children with severe and profound intellectual and physical disabilities.

The non-profit school is partially subsidised by the Department of Social Development. While it is expected that parents pay R100 per month for school fees, many of them cannot afford it as they are unemployed.

The school employs facilitators and assistants who give the children the special stimulation and specialised care they need to gain independence as adults one day.

Programme manager Limeez Manuel said donations such as these were an essential lifeline for the school, which was battling to keep its doors open.

“The main problem is that NGOs cannot sustain themselves in this tough economic climate.

“We have already lost two of our major donors due to the economic recession and if we do not get the necessary help soon we will be forced to close,” she said.

She said the 10 GMSA employees were funding 10 of the school’s 44 children. This money would be used for school fees and food for the children.

The company itself had also donated a gas stove to the school for the preparation of meals.

It also gave security gates so the children could remain safe while on the school’s property.

Centre manager Maureen Miles said the school was also grateful to the organisers of the Dolphin Rally which was held in the Bay, as they had donated R14000 to the school.

Recently a pupil from the school, Andiswa Dyaneli, 15, was tragically killed when she was knocked over by a car, as a result of the school’s special transport system being scrapped earlier this year due to a lack of funding.

GMSA benefits co-ordinator Ida Bladford said: ” We were fortunate to have been able to assist these wonderful children.”

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