Saline Area Schools staff and students collecting goods and raising money to help launch a primary school at an orphanage in Middelburg, South Africa.
The Middelburg Care Village is a facility which caters for the needs of the children who are either orphans, or have been removed from their natural homes because of the conditions there.
There is a school district-wide effort to collect goods for a school at Care Village, and to raise money to ship the goods over and begin funding a teaching staff.
Last year, members of Saline Presbyterian Church visited the orphanage. Pastor Jaco Bester once preached at St. John’s Presbyterian in Middelburg. The children had a profound impact on their guests from Saline.
Saline Area Schools choir teacher Bob Cindric the Saline visitors just wanted to give the Care Village kids a connection to the outside world.
“When we introduced ourselves as their family from America, they gave a giant cheer,” Cindric recalled. “For the first time in their entire lives, they had something nobody else had – they had family in America.”
Cindric called Care Village a “place of love.”
“They are the happiest children you could ever possibly imagine because they now have a home and a loving environment,” Cindric said.
Care Village is in an old church compound in Middelburg – a modern, mid-sized South African town. The compound was purchased with the help of the Middelburg Rotary Club and a large fundraiser. The sale was held up for years because the church wouldn’t sell it to be used to care for black children.
Today, Care Village cares for more than 100 kids. There’s a daycare for the youngest children. The school-aged kids are shipped off to 18 different schools during the day. According to Cindric, they’re not getting a great education.
“Nobody wants to teach them. They are three to four years behind grade level and they don't pay tuition,” Cindric said.
What makes it even more tragic is that the kids understand the importance of education.
“Education is something in South Africa that is so important to children. It's the way we worship sports and movie stars,” Cindric said. “They understand the value of education – even more than our children do in the United States. The problem is, they can’t get it.
Care Village chairman of the board Andre Brandmuller revealed his dream to Cindric.
“Their dream is to one day have a school on site. At least a primary school, so that the kids won’t be scorned when they’re going to school,” Cindric said.
When Cindric came back to Saline he saw all the old school furniture being stored in trailers and the Liberty School gym as the district prepared to bring the new bond-funded furniture into the district. He asked Superintendent Scot Graden if they could ship some of the old furniture to Care Village.
“Without hesitation, he said, ‘absolutely,’” Cindric said.
Graden’s positive response rekindled Cindric’s dream of creating a primary school at Care Village.
Now the idea is gaining momentum.
Throughout the district, students and staff are collecting goods to fill 3,200 cubic foot shipping container with furniture, toys, books, deflated soccer balls, bicycles, board games, power tools and more. The deadline for collections is Dec. 15. The container will be shipped Dec. 16.
In addition, the group is also collecting funds. It costs $4,000 to $5,000 to ship the container to Africa.
In March, about 25 Saline teachers are traveling to Middelburg to lay out the school. They’ll also mentor the teaching staff on curriculum they’re designing for the Care Village children. Hiring teachers is going to be a challenge. It will cost about $4,500 a month to hire the teachers and get the school off the ground.
To donate or to find out more, email Bob Cindric at [email protected].