Learners of the Ilenge Douglas Special School between Dundee and Ladysmith in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands were treated to a special lunch, games and music on National Children’s Day.

The school was established by the Amahle Benefits Scheme after it discovered that some children with disabilities were often chained by their parents because they are treated differently by society.

Christmas came early to children with disabilities at Ilenge in the Kwazulu-Natal midlands.

The plight of these children was discovered by a Non-Profit Organisation – Ilenge Youth Movement that found a number of children with disabilities often locked behind closed doors allegedly by their parents as they were not accepted by some in society.

The children with disability did not have a school in their area.

Ilenge Youth Movement NPO approached Amahle Benefits Scheme for funding to open a special school.

The NGO managed to buy art starter packs for disabled learners.

Seventeen year-old Nothando Phewa and 16 year-old Siphesihle Mjiyakho say they are happy that they are now being equipped with skills.

Phewa says: “We are sewing, we paint bottles, we also make sofas. I’m happy because I see my friends at school, when I’m at home I get bored and I miss them.”

Siphesihle Mjiyakho also had great things to say of the initiative: “I’m able to make sofas, I’m happy because my school is closer and I’m able to go to school. We also make traditional attire. I’m so happy that my parents brought me to this school, I  would like to thank my teachers as well.”

Fifty-three year old Stella Nkabinde is living with three deaf children.

Two of them are her children and one is her grandchild.

Nkabinde says the school is a safe haven for her children, “We were having a problem with our children, we did not know what to do with them because we did not know where to keep them when we are going away. This school is making a big difference in our lives.”

A member of Ilenge Youth Movement Thabo Makhunga says they still need government assistance to grow Ilenge Douglas Special School.

“Our children do not have food and they come from disadvantaged families. We also need proper structure for these children where they will learn different skills and be able to put food on the table. We also calling on government to provide food for these children, we are volunteering, no one has salary. It’s Dr Zondo of Amahle that is giving us some money which he said will encourage us to do our work.”

Amahle Benefits Scheme has donated R100 000 and a vehicle to the school.

President of Amahle Benefits Scheme Bahle Zondo has called on government to intervene so that they can build a proper school with infrastructure that can accommodate children who are using wheel chairs.

“We have invested in this school in such a way that we want to see our disabled children able to achieve their dreams by helping them in terms of skills as well as theory, because at the end of the day if you are disabled it doesn’t mean that you are not capable of being something tomorrow, so we are just assisting them to become a better person for tomorrow. We still need to build a school, a proper school for the youth or disabled people and the proper infrastructure in terms of everything that they might require to make their dream come true.”

The first Saturday in November has been declared National Children’s Day in South Africa.

The aim is to highlight the progress that is being made in the promotion and realisation of children’s rights.