UKZN Spreads Mandela’s Love at Special School
UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, in partnership with the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) and the Information and Communication Services Division, spent 67 minutes with learners at the Ekuthuthukeni Special School in Umlazi on Mandela Day.
Ekuthuthukeni is a public school for intellectually disabled children aged between six and 18. Conditions affecting the learners include autism, down’s syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a range of learning disabilities.
Intrinsic to the functioning of Ekuthuthukeni are stated values and qualities which include honesty, caring, empathy, professionalism, integrity, fairness, excellence and team work. The School’s focus is on empowering learners from different backgrounds with values and skills such as art, sewing, draping, wood work and flower arranging - to help ensure they leave school, well equipped mentally and have at least one technical skill that will assist them find employment and function efficiently in society.
The School’s mission is to ensure that each learner develops spiritually, emotionally as well as socially by firstly acknowledging that each one is unique and also by encouraging them to reach their full potential.
The surrounding community participates in various studies conducted by the HPP.
In order to give back to the school and follow in the philanthropic and humanitarian footsteps of Mandela, the team fundraised over the last few months. Through generous contributions from staff and other stakeholders, the team was able to present the school with stationery, desktop computers, microwave ovens, cotton, sewing machines, fabric, tool kits, blenders, toasters and gift packs for the teachers.
Speaking at the event, HPP community liaison officer in Umlazi, Mr Phumlani Kunene, said to the teachers: ‘It is inspiring to meet the amazing teachers of Ekuthuthukeni Special School who on a daily basis go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure these learners are taught well and cared for. You have been gifted with patience, strength and most of all, love. Thank you for all that you do.’
The school’s deputy principal, Mrs Sizakele Bhengu, expressed her gratitude to UKZN for the gifts. ‘We are eternally grateful for all these goods. We will use them to ensure our learners are taught various skills that will one day help them as adults.’
Words: MaryAnn Francis