Dear friends of Thembanathi,
Since our last quarterly report in December, we've reached some major milestones in our programs here in South Africa. On the 11th of January, over 100 people came together to celebrate the completion of the new Siyabonga Early Childhood Development and Community Center. Representatives of the traditional authority, the local municipality, and local churches attended, along with the families and students who have participated in our program and community members excited to see this new facility built to benefit all the young people of the area. We were very pleased that six of our US-based volunteers, as well as the directors and staff from two of our sister projects in South Africa - Thanda and Holy Cross - were able to join in the celebration. Many who spoke expressed appreciation for the people from across the world that made this possible, reminding us all that we are connected no matter how far apart we are or how different the lives we lead. In addition to the many celebratory speeches, there was a great deal of singing and dancing, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and a feast shared by all. It was a great day for all of us to celebrate the accomplishments of our partners in South Africa and our supporters in the US and elsewhere.
The next week saw the opening of our two new classrooms just in time for the start of the South African school year on January 16. The children who were with us in our old temporary facilities were delighted by the new classrooms filled with many new amazing materials. While initially a bit more tentative, the 43 new children who have been able to join our programs this year thanks to our expanded facilities have quickly opened up and are beginning to catch up with the others in their skills at learning games, songs, and other activities. The chalkboard walls, a suggestion of one of our advisory board members, have been an especially big hit with all of the children. They love covering the walls in drawings and then helping to wipe the surfaces clean to begin again. The children have also quickly discovered the many new blocks, trucks, dolls, and books – things many of the children had not seen before. It is fun to watch how fast they have become adept at building tall towers and then knocking them down.
It's amazing to think about how far we've come. None of this would have been possible without your generous support. We want to thank you for this! However, in order for the program to continue to serve these needy young people, and to grow to offer services to even more children and their families, we would very much appreciate your ongoing commitment to our programs. Please consider making a pledge to provide monthly support, as this form of support allows us to ensure continuity of care for young children facing adversity. A donation of only $25 per month will ensure that one of our center children continues to receive nutritious hot meals each day, while a $50 monthly pledge will cover the full costs of a young child's education, food and care at our high-quality early childhood center.
Thanks again to all of you for your support. We're excited to see what comes next!
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