New Sea­son Foun­da­tion gives dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren a new lease of life

Cape Times - - INSIGHT - Ros­alie Small

A RE­CENT news­pa­per re­port headed “Pro­gramme en­cour­ages kids to be­come lead­ers” made for in­spi­ra­tional read­ing. It tells about New Sea­son Foun­da­tion, an NPO based in Re­treat.

This or­gan­i­sa­tion has been mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of young peo­ple from Re­treat and its south­ern neigh­bour, Steen­berg.

The re­port tells us about John Alexan­der, who lives in Re­treat and who is chair­per­son of the New Sea­son Foun­da­tion, which has the motto “Transforming minds, el­e­vat­ing lives”.

Alexan­der, who has al­ways been pas­sion­ate about chil­dren, started by vol­un­teer­ing to teach after-school pro­grammes, specif­i­cally life skills at high schools in the area. He even­tu­ally made his way to Crest­way High School where he taught grades 10 and 11 pupils.

The re­port points out that work­ing with chil­dren presents var­i­ous chal­lenges. For ex­am­ple, the chil­dren come from dif­fer­ing back­grounds and of­ten need more than the life skills Alexan­der was of­fer­ing; they needed dis­ci­pline, love and at­ten­tion.

Then he met Mary Cupido and her son, Aubrey Cupido. She as­sisted him with his com­mend­able project. Cupido has ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with foster chil­dren.

As is the case with the ma­jor­ity of NPOs, the New Sea­son Foun­da­tion has not re­ceived much fi­nan­cial sup­port. Alexan­der is a sin­gle fa­ther and Cupido a pen­sioner. Alexan­der, Cupido and Aubrey use their own money and small do­na­tions for re­sources such as books and pen­cils.

Alexan­der said that they were very grate­ful for any do­na­tions that came their way.

But what is im­por­tant is that it is not only the ma­te­rial goods the chil­dren re­ceive; they re­ceive love and at­ten­tion and know that there are peo­ple who care about them and take care of them.

The point of the pro­gramme is that it en­cour­ages the chil­dren to be­come the lead­ers of the fu­ture.

Alexan­der says: “We want to teach them pos­i­tive things, re­spect and how to carry them­selves, and to in­stil in them that there is a fu­ture”.

The point about there be­ing a fu­ture is of ut­most im­por­tance.

Many peo­ple live lives de­void of a fu­ture. For them, there is only the daily grind of sim­ply get­ting through the day. And so, day fol­lows day, with noth­ing to in­spire them.

But thanks to the work done by peo­ple such as Alexan­der and Cupido, young­sters in the Re­treat com­mu­nity can de­velop a vi­sion of a fu­ture in which they can thrive and live mean­ing­ful lives, and in­deed be­come lead­ers.

An­other in­spi­ra­tional story is that of Cres­cent Pri­mary School in Heath­field, also near Re­treat. The school re­cently en­tered the an­nual SA Lit­er­acy As­so­ci­a­tion (Sala) Cre­ative Writ­ing Com­pe­ti­tion. This was the first time it had en­tered.

Each year the as­so­ci­a­tion in­vites schools to par­tic­i­pate. The com­pe­ti­tion has three cat­e­gories – short story, short es­say and po­etry.

Cres­cent prin­ci­pal Naseerudin Harneker said the re­sults pupils had achieved re­flected the school’s com­mit­ment to­wards ex­cel­lence in ed­u­ca­tion. He also thanked teach­ing staff and par­ents for their hard work and sup­port.

Tas­keen Zal­gaonkir, Grade 6, came third with 83% for her short story; Faa­timah Fisher, Grade 5, came third with 83% for her short es­say; and Mogam­mad Ameen Isaacs, Grade 4, came sec­ond with 92% for his poem and third with 73% for his short story.

Harneker said the school pro­moted read­ing as it taught chil­dren to write well.

I could not agree more with this in­sight. Read­ing is the foun­da­tion of all learn­ing, whether it is lit­er­a­ture, maths or sci­ence.

The staff must be com­mended for the ef­fort they put in over and above their nor­mal work­load. So, too, we must com­mend the par­ents of these chil­dren for their ded­i­ca­tion.

There are, of course, other schools, with ded­i­cated staff and par­ents who achieve com­mend­able re­sults against all odds.

How­ever, this is not eas­ily man­aged. And one can­not sin­gle out every school that man­ages this.

But let it suf­fice that there are those schools in our com­mu­nity which, against all the odds, do a won­der­ful job ed­u­cat­ing our young chil­dren.

In this re­gard I think of my two young grand­chil­dren, who live in my house with their mother, my daugh­ter. They do not at­tend a school where high fees must be paid. They at­tend a school in our com­mu­nity.

There is, of course, a monthly or yearly fee that must be paid. From what I see and hear, they are re­ceiv­ing com­mend­able school­ing. They are con­fi­dent and ar­tic­u­late. Ar­ro­gance does not fea­ture.

I am not con­demn­ing schools that charge sub­stan­tial fees for tuition. There are, prob­a­bly, rea­sons for do­ing so, such as fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment.

What I am say­ing is that in our com­mu­ni­ties there are schools where fees are payable – ac­cord­ing to what par­ents and care-givers can af­ford – and which are do­ing a mar­vel­lous job of ed­u­cat­ing our young peo­ple.

The two chil­dren of mine and Adam’s at­tended schools in the com­mu­nity – although, I now ad­mit, I would have wished them, at the time, to have at­tended pri­vate schools. I have not come to re­gret Adam’s de­ci­sion and, ul­ti­mately, mine.

I con­clude with a poem by NP van Wyk Louw, trans­lated by Adam. It is ti­tled As a Child. As a child you thought Great things will come out of me great things and good things – like a lad, of course, should think

And now the great and the good are both split and in­stead of just good­ness and great­ness

there have burst through the tar, from the tar of the street roy­ally red and white mot­tled mush­rooms – what is awe­some and what is sim­ple and evil and sim­ple and sim­ple and hum­ble out through the crack that is you The earth is not sin­gu­lar.

Pic­ture: SOUTH­ERN MAIL

VOL­UN­TEERS: John Alexan­der and Mary Cupido with the group of chil­dren from Re­treat.

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