Legacy of Grace
The Legacy of Grace
While I was traveling in South Africa, I visited the Drakensburg Mountains in the northernmost Royal Natal and the adjacent Summit called the Amphitheater, a world-famous National Heritage Site. My guides were Cheryl Blackburn, a native South African who is co-owner of Three Trees at Spioenkop, and Elijah Mbonane, a Zulu Native Guide from Siyaphambili Tours and Travels.
Elijah was so passionate about his beloved country and specifically about the Drakensberg’s natural architecture of imposing rock walls, deep green valleys, and the threatened treasures of the Drakensberg rock paintings and San art, which was painted by Southern Africa's earliest inhabitants, the San Bushmen.
Elijah explained that the Amphitheater gained its regal prefix Royal Natal after the 1947 visit of Britain's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It wasn't unusual for those with the means and influence to be able to “own” a piece of extraordinary beauty in Africa.
But once the Royal Natal was proclaimed a World Heritage Site, everyone—no matter what social status or influence—was now "Only able to come to see, not to have," in Elijah’s own expression.
At the moment Elijah uttered these words, something changed inside me forever. I truly understood how nature’s wonders, frequently defaced by the public with spray paint or purchased by those with great wealth to be reserved solely for their own enjoyment somehow needed the world’s collective protection. A World Heritage site is created for natural locations that have outstanding universal value based on cultural and preservation principles but that have become vulnerable to irreversible change.
I believe that this shouldn’t apply solely to a natural phenomena or exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. It should apply to cultural traditions as well. While it’s important to allow room for the natural evolution of a civilization, there is also great value in preserving a civilization’s culture and outlook on the world. In Elijah’s case, it was important to help preserve the unique brand of human values and the innate instinct to protect the environment of the Zulu tribe from which he came. The missing link that would help them prosper in a way that was best for their tribe was the ability to communicate in a universal language. To bridge this gap became Elijah’s mission.
Elijah has lived his entire life at the base of the Amphitheater in his native Zulu village. When Nelson Mandela became president, one of his lasting legacies was to return the land to native black South Africans who were forcibly removed by the apartheid government by way of the 1994 Restitution of Land Rights Act. President Mandela highlighted the need to undo the damage of the past and redress the injustices of apartheid by creating a path for job creation, agricultural production, and the development of an inclusive rural economy.
With no fear of land dispossession and economic exclusion, Elijah was free to pursue his personal mission to not only create success in his life in order to give back to the people in his village but to help them attain their own personal achievements.
Elijah explained that he recently was able to purchase a small piece of property in his village. When I asked if he was going to build his home on this land, he replied, "No, I want to build a nursery.” At the time, a lovely resident grandma named Mabel took care of all the village’s the young children in her own home. Elijah's goal was to build a nursery that would not only care for the kids but also educate them, teaching them English so they would not be hindered when they eventually went to the mainstream school.
At that moment, I said to Elijah, "I will build that school for you." And I did. The Sakhile Centre of Learning opened on November 27, 2015, sponsored by the Legacy of Grace, a group formed by me and my two guides, Cheryl and Elijah.
On opening day, a few children and their parents came to inspect the new preschool, built by the hands of the men in the village under the direction and guidance of Elijah. Soon books, toys, and an English teacher arrived and the school grew from mere curiosity to more than 50 dedicated children between the ages of 2 and 6.
This school and the Legacy of Grace are my own personal lasting legacy. We have committed ourselves to work tirelessly for the Zulu community of South Africa and the Sakhile Centre of Learning school in the hope of creating a contagious representation of transformation and prosperity that will be modeled in other areas worldwide. We believe that the power of word of mouth will take this inspired movement to a world legacy to help every child reach their life potential—especially those who may not have initially been able to do so due to their humble beginnings.
My dream is now a reality and you can be part of leaving your own lasting legacy with your donation. With the current exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar to South African Rand, our dollars go very far to help others that are less fortunate than we are. 13 multiplied my initial US Dollar donation in 2015 with the exchange rate in our favor. It doesn't take a lot of money to supply English books and wall charts, puzzles, toys, mattresses and blankets for nap time, etc.
The Legacy of Grace's focus is on Education and the Environment. Please empower these Zulu people to become the Superstars of their next generation. And you, too, will be a part of a Movement that is greater than any one of us alone. Together, we can change this world, one project at a time.
Give generously. Thank you! And please share your efforts and the Legacy of Grace on your social media platforms. It's word of mouth that will take this inspired Movement to a World Legacy of change that matters.
Go to www.GoFundMe.com/LegacyofGraceSA
The von der Ohe family from the USA visited the Sakhile Centre of Learning in 2017 while on a vacation in South Africa in the Drakensberg Mountains. Our kids interacted with this lovely family and they touched each other's lives in the most beautiful way. Since our Sakhile kids live in a remote Zulu village, they normally wouldn't come in contact with children outside their village, especially from the USA.
When they returned from SA, Christina von der Ohe and I connected about her children's desire to donate 4 children's books to our school library. So Christina sent me the books and I hand carried them to SA. The kids loved the books and were so grateful to receive the books and that this family remembered them in such a lovely way.
Fast forward to 2018 and Sophia von der Ohe took it one step further. She wrote a children's chapter book called Power Island, sold it on Amazon, and asked her fellow classmates to buy the book to raise money for the Sahkile Centre of Learning!! All at the age of 12 years old!
Sophia made $150 on book sales and donated the full amount to purchase construction blocks and games for the kids. Here is her story:
"After my visit to the Sakhile Center of Learning in June 2017, I was inspired to help raise money for the school. I love writing, so I decided to self-publish my first chapter book, called Power Island. I sold it on Amazon, and told friends and family that I would donate any proceeds to the school. I was very thankful when more than 80 people purchased the book and I was able to buy construction toys for the kids. I am happy that I was able to help in some way, and hope to do so again with my next book that I am working on!" - Sophia von der Ohe, Age 12
What an inspiration! And a published author at age 12!
Our school motto is: "If you always give, you'll always have." I thank Sophia and her family on behalf of the Legacy of Grace SA, and the kids at Sakhile. You have made an impact on these children's lives forever.
Chairman of the Board
Legacy of Grace SA
Overview of Sakhile Centre of Learning
Amazizi Village, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa
Cheryl, Cheryl & Elijah formed The Legacy of Grace out of the desire to educate children about the environment in the rural area of Amazizi, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.
Permission was granted by community council for Mrs. Mabel Madonsela to use a small piece of land adjacent to her home for the care of small children that were being housed in her home next door.
The small derelict mud structure was painted, small verandah out the front was concreted to shelter children.
The entire perimeter of the land was fenced in to keep livestock out. Interviews were conducted to find a suitable teacher to assist Mrs. Madonsela. Zinhle Sixolile Shabalala was employed as a teacher.
A metal stationery cupboard was purchased to safely house donated books. Mattresses & blankets were purchased for children for naps.
Logo was designed & signage put up along the road.
Puzzles, posters, toys were purchased.
A curriculum was drawn up for Zinhle to follow weekly South African topics for the children’s education
The local private school donated learning materials.
Wall of gratitude erected to advertise & encourage tourists to visit the centre from outside
Marketing pamphlets were designed to keep at the school & hand out should visitors be interested in sponsorship.
Vegetable garden was designed & seedlings planted.
Second & third small rooms added onto the original building for kitchen & sleeping area. Waterproofing, windows fixed, repainted.
Lusec Waterless toilets were erected & tested, but community felt they were not working, so they were removed
Swings erected for children.
New toilets were dug & long drops erected. Brushcutter purchased to maintain the garden Plinths erected for donated water tanks Gutters erected on all roofing
Waterproofing of roof
Ceiling erected inside to help with insulation. Jungle gym donated & erected.
Soccer field prepared & posts erected
Zinhle (teacher) has enrolled in an Early Childhood Development course through Lyceum College.
Zinhle will also be attending a series of workshops run by Botshabelo that will prepare her practically for Early Childhood Development
GOALS AHEAD: 2018
Repaint Gratitude wall
Re-look at the waterless toilets for the school
Raise funds for larger buildings & larger development of property
Additional teachers – split age groups up, so have max 25/30 children per teacher. Will need additional classrooms for this.
Sakhile Centre of Learning was Inspired by Siyaphambili Tours & Travel, Cheryl Grace, Elijah Mbonane, Cheryl Blackburn
This has been a great week! I received donations from Anita Sluzewski and Sandy Thielz to benefit the Sakhile Centre of Learning in SA. We have made so much progress this year. This includes building a long drop toilet for the boys and girls, leveling ground by hand to build a soccer field for our 2-5 year olds on the school property, building a new roof that will capture rain and deposit in our rain barrels, adding an underground pipeline to tap into one of our donors water wells to add running water to our school grounds, building a wonderful garden with vegetables for our kids and their families, sending our teacher to preschool training, and buying chairs, tables and school supplies for our kids.
This is all because of our amazing donors. We couldn't do it without you.
Thank you Sandy Thielz, Anita Sluzewski, Connie Black, Christina von der Ohe, Connie Belmont, Robert Brameister, Robert Cowan, Jackie Fie, Kelly McDonald, Kayce Schumacher, Nikki Godfrey, Kathryn Greer, Jeanne Hardin, Tanya Vee, Kristina Hollinger, Kingsley Thorpe, Miranda Thorpe, Lisa Woodis, Michele Roxas, Diane Capobianco, Fred Stack, Judith Klutzow, Janet Jarzyna, Joanne Giannini, Elaine Royer, Anne Doherty, Antoinette Fiumos, Marionette Owens, Derek and Kathleen Mobley, Marcia Keegan, Isilma Howard, Patricia Hannan, Wes Knight, Charita Johnson, Mary Simpson, Mare Petra, Robert Cowan, Dawn Maslar, Tarek Saleh, Gary Alexander, Jack Hyman, Lieve Olivera for your donations.
Thank you to our chief donors who made this happen: Kingsley Thorpe, Miranda Monyette Chattam Thorpe, Robert Cowan, Connie Black, Connie Belmont, Sandra Thielz, and more.
If you want to make a difference and leave your lasting legacy by helping these kids, go to www.LegacyofGraceSA.com and donate what you can. 100% of your donation goes to the school. #Impact