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 SAAF donates pre-Xmas gifts to Alma school

Article and photos By Amn Lebogang Ramaboea, AD ASTRA magazine

The Bushveld Airspace Control Sector (BACS) donated ten bicycles, five soccer balls and four cricket sets to Alma School, located in Eloffsdal, west of Tshwane, on 25 September 2008.

The school has learners from the age of 3 to 21 years old. Alma is for children in desperate need of specialized education in physical and mental care. The approximately 215 learners come from various races from the city of Tshwane metro pole.

The institute accommodates children suffering from cerebral palsy, various physical and severe intellectual disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, syndromes and epilepsy. Some of them have multiple disabilities.

In an interview with AD ASTRA magazine, Mrs Elze Finaughty, the school’s personal assistant said: “As a school, we are happy to be visited by the South African Air Force (SAAF) every year. The SAAF always brings bundles of gifts and joy to the children. The Air Force is an integral part of us; with them we are a family that gets stronger. It is very costly to render specialized services to our learners”.

Mrs Finaughty noted that the school received a subsidy from the Education Department, but it is not deemed to be enough. Much of the funds, she said, they raised themselves with initiatives like buddy-buddy day (wheelchair race), school concert, fête, casual day, interspes (school sport day), Ubuntu tea (thank you function), morning tea and coin laying.

Alma School also manages a feeding scheme and a transport system. Food is only offered to those children who cannot afford to bring lunchboxes from home. She also noted that some of the children stayed with unemployed parents and grandparents as well as single parents. They have six mini-buses covering the whole Tshwane Metropolitan area.

The children are picked up from home to school and taken back afterwards. It would be a huge expense for them to use public transport, as the sector did not cater for their special needs. The school, enduring a big financial burden, runs the system them self.

One of the children is 17-year-old Dio Marole, who plays drums and a tambourine for the school’s band, comes from Orchards, north of Tshwane. In an interview with AD ASTRA magazine, he said: “Our school is the best in the world with good teachers and we are one big family with its challenges. I always boast to my friends about our facilities. We are not stupid, as people think we cannot fend for ourselves.”

He proudly says: “Disability does not mean inability, at home I wash dishes and do other chores. My best friend is Gert Greeff who’s my age”. The students spend most of their time at school, with classes starting at 08h30 ending at 13h30. This is a school that strives to equip its pupils with life skills for them to play a meaningful role in life. Then, they would be enabled to live with dignity and good morals.

The institute is divided into 17 classes. The curriculum consists of five phases namely: the toddler, junior, intermediate, senior and a Further Educational Training (FET) phase. The computer room helps them communicate with children of other schools.

The relationship between the SAAF and Alma school started in 2004.


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