Sidney, B.C.; On Friday, September 28th, Mayor Steve Price and Mr. Kenny Podmore welcomed
Principal Thamsanqa Msomi of Slangspruit Primary School in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to Sidney.
Mayor Price states, “Kenny Podmore visited Slangspruit School in 2016 while on vacation in South Africa. He delivered a letter from Mayor and Council at that time but, I am thrilled to be meeting with Mr. Msomi and to have the opportunity to speak to him in person.”
This is the first time Mr. Msomi has ever travelled outside of South Africa. He is visiting Sidney and Victoria to meet with the friends of Ukulapha Community Outreach who have supported the organization over the past 10 years. Sidney has an active volunteer group spearheaded by Podmore that annually raises money for Ukulapha. Mr. Msomi attended a fundraising gala later in the evening at Royal Colwood Golf Club where he was a guest speaker.
Mr. Msomi explained that the school has been open since 1980 and has a population of 1,114 students from grades 1 to 7. He has been Principal there for the past 15 years. Through generous donations, the school is able to provide two scholarships per year for students to attend high school. The value of each scholarship is approximately $2,500 Canadian dollars, but the opportunity it offers to the students is invaluable. It provides them the chance to change their lives, which in turn influences their family and eventually the community. Mr. Msomi confirms that without the donations from the school’s Canadian Friends in Sidney and Victoria, they would struggle to operate.
Ukulapha Community Outreach supports disadvantaged communities in the Pietermaritzburg Township through education and community development. The area suffers very high levels of poverty, unemployment, child abuse, and HIV infection. These factors, together with the large numbers of orphans and vulnerable children, particularly child-headed households, led the project founder, Carolyn Burns to initiate the Ukulapha Outreach Project.
Carolyn was born in South Africa. She lived in Canada for 25 years, including in Victoria, before returning to her homeland where she was inspired to start Ukulapha.
Slanspruit School is one of the recipients of Ukulapha Community Outreach Program. It has received many infrastructure improvements and additions as well as nutritional programs and scholarship programs that have been made possible in part by donations from residents of Sidney and Victoria.
Mr. Al Colborne, Sidney resident, will be hosting Mr. Msomi for the duration of his stay until he goes to Vancouver on Sunday, October 7th.