Young South Africans Make a Difference

– Mike Greeff

Thobani Ndlovu is the Head of School at the Royal Drakensberg Primary School in the Northern Drakensberg. A Foundation phase school growing children from Grade 000 to Grade 4. He is also the coordinator of the Khanyisela Project – a project that serves 18 Early Childhood Development Centres in the surrounding mountains. This partnership with these schools covers aspects such as teacher training, feeding the children each day, building and maintaining facilities, providing appropriate educational resources and, importantly, holding the hands of the teachers at these centres as they navigate the challenges of early childhood development in poverty-stricken and trying circumstances. In addition, he coordinates the BabyBoost Project, a project that works with babies in the first thousand days of their lives, and their carers.

These three focus areas; Royal Drakensberg Primary School, Khanyisela and BabyBoost are all under the umbrella of the Royal Drakensberg Education Trust.

That describes Thobani’s formally described role. The more important aspect is how Thobani carries this out, how he achieves the real dreams of the Trust, and how the community respect him and has taken him in as one of them.

Over a year ago, Thobani assumed the headship of the Primary School and immediately accepted the responsibility that goes with that pivotal role. He also took on the mantle of coordinator of the projects associated with the Trust. The operational running of everything continued without a hiccup. However, Thobani also brought his heart to work. First and foremost he embraced, with all of his heart, the children in the school, the little ones in the creches and the babies in the BabyBoost project. He reached out to the teachers and school heads and took their hands in sharing his experience and qualifications. He has grown every one of them in a way that is appropriate to that individual. Always, his question is, “Is this the best for the children.” His sleeves have remained rolled up as he has personally delivered porridge, as he has sung and danced with the children and the community as they have celebrated success, and he has cried and mourned with the community as they have mourned. Thobani doesn’t go to work, he lives his work.

The efforts that Thobani makes daily impact close to one thousand children at any time. He sees the joy in growth that it gives those little ones and their parents now but he does it knowing that in twenty years, each one of these little folk will be better able to do the same thing for children who need it then.

Thobani is a South African for today who is building a stronger South Africa for tomorrow.

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