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AM Moola Spes Nova School

School Pupils are ready for winter after Gift of the Givers hands out Blankets, Soup Packs, Personal Hygiene Packs in Phoenix. 

One thousand excited voices echoed thank you as bus loads of children heaved over their shoulders the blankets and food hampers that they received – just in time for winter. The children, described as the “poorest of the poor” from 100 schools in Phoenix and surrounding areas, were part of Gift of the Givers Winter Warmth campaign at AM Moola Spes Nova School. Phoenix Poverty Reduction Association, comprising of teachers, organised the distribution and secretary, Jeff Kannie, said the initiative was a response to the dire poverty in the community. 

“We deal with poverty on a daily basis and see the effect it has on our children, and the impact it has on their learning,” he said. Salim Sayed, GOTG Operations Managers, said that helping children was essential because “a child who doesn’t have a decent sleep or a good meal cannot be productive at school”. 

For the children, who dug feverishly in their blue bags, the box of Milo cereal, one of the many items in their nutritional hampers, was a rare luxury. Brenton Francis, a pupil from Swanvale Primary, said the cereal was a welcome treat and a keen sportsman said the cereal would give him the energy he needed.

he following items were distributed:

  • 1000 Blankets
  • 750 Soup Packs
  • 250 Personal Packs
  • 1000 Nestle Cereal

Total Project Value: R 332 500.00




A special day at Spes Nova School in Phoenix, Durban

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Thursday 2nd August 2012, Spes Nova School, Phoenix - After an early morning rehearsal where we tighten up our show, including the juggling and acrobatic routines, we head out to Phoenix. We, being Sussie Mjwara, Busi Biyela, Mr. Fish, and myself, Gavin.

Today, we will be doing our first show at a school called Spes Nova for the physically and mentally disabled. The school is huge with what seems to be great facilities including services for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychology. Our show is to be performed in the Dining Hall. The kids start to file in with great excitement as we are setting up the backdrop. They are ready before we are so Sussie warms up the crowd with some call and response songs. Soon, they are all echoing Sussie and laughing at her antics.

We have a really great show, one of the best so far on the tour. The set-up of the hall makes it difficult for people at the back to see so I pull Fish’s leg right up in the air during the Doctor scene so the people at the back can see what we are doing when we bandage it. I hope he stretched this morning as he is not as young as the rest of us! Even though visibility is bad it doesn’t seem to matter to this bunch. They are totally engrossed in the show. The volunteer children who join us onstage really work with us and copy what we do in their own special way to make it even funnier for us. The volunteer who we use for the Magic Bottle routine gets dressed up in an apron, goggles, and a shower cap and really hams it up like a model on the runway.

After the show we are treated to a rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ complete with the weirdest animal noises and other sound effects from one of the kids, Andile. I am amazed at the sounds he can create with his mouth. Maybe a future clown in training?

We are treated to some tea and samoosas after the show with some of the staff. They tell us how they manage to keep the school fees to less than R1000 a year, including full room and board. We are amazed at their ability to raise the funds to keep the school going. What a great team of motivated and committed people. We say our goodbyes and head off to our next show in Verulam. The show must go on!

- Gavin Stockden





Hijackers kill bus driver who tried to protect children


A Durban school bus driver was killed after he told three hijackers he would hand over the keys when all the disabled children were safely out of the vehicle.

When the hijackers refused to release the children, Ash Kemraj Balgobin, 57, reached for his gun but was shot and killed.

During the terror attack, the hijackers also shoved a 10-year-old girl, who suffers from cerebral palsy, out of the bus.

Balgobin’s relatives said he had died a hero.

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said no arrests had been made.

A spokesman for Balgobin’s family, Vidhan Maharaj, a policeman, said his uncle had left home at about 6am to fetch children from the Avoca Hills and Redhill areas to transport them to the AM Moolla Spes Nova School, in Lenham, Phoenix.

He said Balgobin’s last stop was in Quartz Road to pick up a 10-year-old girl, at about 7.30am.

As the child, who suffers from cerebral palsy, got into the bus, the hijackers struck, producing guns.

Maharaj said: “According to the caregiver who was also on the bus, they pushed the child out of the bus and demanded the keys from Ash. They held him at gunpoint.

“Beryl (the caregiver) said he refused to hand over the keys, demanding they let the children go first.”

He said his uncle was armed and when the hijackers refused to let the children get out, he tried to reach for his gun to fight them off.

“They opened fire on him in full view of the children. He was shot once in the arm and chest. He died instantly. Beryl said the children were hysterical. They tried to duck for cover in the bus.”

Maharaj said the hijackers had fled with the bus keys and his uncle’s firearm.

The school governing body vice-chairman Monty Naidoo, whose 10-year-old daughter Celine, who cannot speak, was on the bus said all the children had received counselling from the police services soon after the incident.


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