Developing skills that will last for a lifetime

CHILDREN at the Missionvale Care Centre this week enjoyed their last session with seven American students who had been volunteering every week for the last three months.

Students from (women's) College of St Benedict and the (men's) St Johns University in Minnesota, chose the centre as part of their study abroad programme hosted by their respective universities.

Students Erin Spelltz, Maddie Norgard, Theresa Hickman and Jordan Beumer spent their final hours in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday reading to the children at the centre as they have been doing.

The centre, which provides essential health, social and spiritual services to Missionvale, concentrates on the development of children, especially those orphaned and vulnerable.

"There's a healthy support system here at Missionvale Care Centre that makes it possible to succeed at any programmes that are set out for us.

"There's an absolute need for the children at the academy to be exposed to individual reading activities because every non-profit organisation needs money, but then again money can't teach people how to read," Spelltz said.

With their fixed daily programme, the group switched between helping in the clinic, working with pupils, and doing garden duties. Hickman describes the opportunity as a "wonderful experience", as she has already identified an improvement in pupils' reading abilities.

"It's absolutely amazing to see their excitement and willingness to learn. They need individual attention in order for them to grow," Hickman said.

The group, which left on Monday, were hoping the reading programme would continue and called on others to take over the baton.

"These pupils are fun-loving kids and they crave individual attention. They need love and a mentor.

"They're just completely amazing" Norgard said.  - Chanice Koopman