Seasons Greetings from Principal Marlene

We spent some time this term preparing for our year end celebration, with 14 of our ‘House of the Children’ children heading off to “big school” next year.

We were all very excited to see the children perform traditional dances, sing and do presentations to the parents about the work they have learned throughout the year. I hope you have checked out our photos and videos of the day on our Facebook page!

Sadly in recent months, our area has experienced quite a drought. But some of the children’s gardens survived the weather despite the chickens that scratched out the seeds! We aim to become self-sufficient in producing all the veggies we need for the school.  However with poor growing weather and curious animals it has been a challenge that we haven’t been able to achieve this year.

On brighter news, we received a donation of story books from the lovely people at Biblionef to add to our collection. We are now loaning books out to the children to read at home, and reports back show that their older siblings enjoy reading to them 🙂



We had a few people visiting us this term and were very excited when Funeka arrived. She came all the way from Bulungula Incubator to facilitate a workshop with our Parent Governing Board (PGB) members over two days. She gave them some useful information about how a PGB is run and what each one’s duty is. The members interacted well with one another.

On the third morning Funeka observed in the school environment and during the afternoon it was the teacher’s turn to meet with her. Again Funeka had some great tips for us to increase parental involvement.

Our parent workshop followed a few days later and the teachers introduced some of her ideas, which the parents thoroughly enjoyed. You can read more about this on our guest blog by Sanelise here.

Big thanks to our other visitors this term, including the Outreach team from Zithulele Hospital and Grace Vision who came to check the ears and eyes of all our children. Also thanks and graitutde as always to Jennifer and Xholiswa from First Children who visited again for over a month. They continued the new teacher training course and caught up with our existing teachers on their Continuing Professional Development course.


Theme for the Term

In between all the practicing for our end of year celebration, there was some time to continue with our theme of the Continents. The children were introduced to the different countries on the continents. They counted the continents and looked at the different colours which represent each continent individually (according to the colours on the globe).


For example, Europe is red on the globe so the map of Europe and matching cards are all on red cardboard. This helps the child identify the countries that make up our globe and can then work on their own and pack out the cards correctly. This is also a great example of the Montessori method as it supports and develops the child to work independently.

When we discussed Europe, we also looked at Italy (where Maria Montessori was born) and where she opened the first Montessori school, Casa dei Bambini. Another “House of the Children” like our Ikhaya Labantwana!

As well as understanding the world and how far South Africa is from other countries, the children developed their language skills though learning and naming the largest and smallest continents.

They also learnt which animals are found on the different continents and how they adapt to their environment e.g. bears that are found in Europe have thick hair to keep them warm.


Culture Corner – Lobola

Lobola is an age-old Xhosa tradition where a man pays the family of his chosen one for her hand in marriage.

When a man wishes to marry a lady, he makes an appointment with her family. The amount of cows to be paid depends on the wealth and status of the families. Nowadays, the bride’s family may also accept Lobola in cash. The Lobola negotiations show that the families have both agreed for the marriage to take place.

On an appointed day, the bride’s family brings her to the groom’s house where animals are slaughtered for everyone in the village to attend and enjoy. No formal invitations are given, rather it is a community “ubuntu” event.

By paying Lobola, it doesn’t mean that the man “buys” his wife, but it raises the value attached to her as a person and wife. It also shows commitment and love from the husband.

Parent Perspective

We talk to one of the parents who attended our last workshop of the year. Here’s what she had to say.

Q. What did you learn at the workshop?

A. I learnt about water, gas and electricity – the uses and dangers thereof.

Q. Did you enjoy the workshop?

A. Yes, I enjoyed and learnt many things I did not know.

Q. Would you attend more workshops?

A. Yes, I will as I enjoyed it and learnt a lot of new things which I took home and shared with my family.

Q. Did you experience anything different at the last workshop, which you did not at previous workshops?

A. Yes, the last workshop was interacting with other parents and getting to know them better. We also spoke about things that affect us in our everyday lives.

Meet the Team – Katie Delport

Q. What are your duties at Sustainable Coffee Bay (SCB) and Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori (ILM)?

A. I am the Projects Manager at Sustainable Coffee Bay so as well as managing our other projects and the organisation as a whole, my role is to support the team at ILM and provide strategic direction.

Q. What is your background and how long have you been working at SCB/ILM?

A. Prior to this I have worked both in the corporate and development sectors, including the British Red Cross and more recently with a smaller non profit organisation running a team of community health workers focussing on maternal and child health. I started at SCB just before our current teachers graduated, in August 2015.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?

A. It is incredibly varied, from things as diverse as projects management to community support. Living in a rural area like this, there are also unexpected curved balls. We just went through 5 days with no electricity in November which is highly unusual even for our rural area! This is where the ability to “make a plan” is paramount and keeps us on our toes, making for an interesting working life!

Q. Do you have a hobby?

A. I love swimming in the ocean here, but if I’m not in the water then I can usually be found walking the hills with my three rescue dogs. The views are amazing!

Q. How long have you lived in Coffee Bay?

A. I first visited back in the day in 2003, but have been living here permanently since 2010.

Q. What changes have you noticed in Coffee Bay over the years?

A. The changes have been huge, but largely unnoticed if you don’t live here. People with HIV now have universal access to ARV medication. Our nearest hospital has gone from a missionary outpost down a dirt road to a fully functioning hospital that is reknowned for its HIV programmes. It now also has a superb tar road!

Deaths from cholera are all but unheard of since municipal water taps have been installed in every village and this year, electricity is slowly coming to our villages too.

Now the focus needs to be on supporting and developing access to quality education for all ages.  With less than 10% completing high school or accessing an early childhood program and over 75% unemployment, there is still much work to do.


From all of us here we wish you good times with your family and friends this season, and a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

Here’s a House of the Children video from our end of year celebration 🙂

House of the Children Summer Newsletter

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