In 2010, when Gareth went to Drummond at the request of his mother who was involved in a church outreach project there, he had little idea that he was taking a step on a path that would lead to bigger things. Gareth met the children of the settlement and was asked to help some of them with their school work. Realising that there were more children with school problems than he could personally cope with, he called on friends Peter Klein and Taryn Courtney to help him out.
Peter’s father, Dave Klein, was headmaster at HeronBridge College and pastor of HeronBridge Community Church, which led to Lesedi being incorporated into the Heronbirdge Community Church as part of its outreach programme. In addition, it was agreed that the facilities at the college could be used by the group every Saturday. Every Saturday the volunteers made multiple trips between Drummond and HeronBridge to get their eager students to Saturday school. Lesedi Saturday School was born.
After four years of dedicated teaching, with a core group of only 7 volunteers and increasing numbers of children wanting to attend, it was decided to look for more help from HeronBridge. For this, they approached Ingo van der Merwe, Chaplain of HeronBridge College and no stranger to the logistics of sustainable outreach projects. Ingo asked Maryna Boddenburg, psychologist and founder of a successful literacy programme to co-ordinate the project and she accepted.
A request for volunteers was sent out to HeronBridge parents, past pupils and HeronBridge Community Church members. We now have a dedicated group of around 35 teaching volunteers, two community field workers and families from the Church who provide a mid morning snack for the students.
In 2015 Lesedi registered 42 students, from grade4 – grade 11.
In 2016, those numbers jumped to more than 80 students, with even more on the waiting list. As our reputation has spread, so our catchment area has expanded. While our core of students is still from Drummond, we now have students from Cosmo City, Lion Park, Diepsloot and Chartwell.
A good reputation is a little like a double edged sword. We are thrilled by our successes, but will need to expand our dedicated volunteer base, and our donations, in order to make sure we are not doing exactly what the schools are doing – having too many students in the class and not enough teachers. If you would like to donate, or volunteer, click here.