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The miracle that started with a blessing



Standing to sing This Little Light of Mine, children welcomed visitors to the Eco Blessings Preparatory School on the Brakpan Shul premises on Mandela Day (Tuesday, 18 July).

Among the singers was a girl called Blessing. School co-founder Yakima Waner – also founder of The Harvest Project, which supports the school – explained that Blessing was the inspiration for the initiative.

Her mother, Jesse, who is the sole breadwinner for her children, had left Blessing in someone’s care. The little girl had drunk poison, and the ensuing traumatic episode had made Jessie swear she would do everything to ensure there was a crèche in the area.

She started one in a small home in nearby Plastic City, an informal settlement housing mostly refugees. This was where Waner met her and where the idea for a school on the Brakpan Shul premises was birthed.

The new classroom – sponsored by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and World Jewish Congress – is for Grade 3 pupils, and uses natural lighting and recycled plastic fittings. These features are part of management’s goal to teach the children about sustainability. They are also taught to grow their own food.

It’s all about celebrating life for Waner and her team. “We’re giving the children a chance at schooling, and today’s launch allows us to dream for the future, as we grow our facilities to accommodate higher grades.”

Speaking on behalf of the SAJBD, national chairperson Wendy Kahn said the initiative on the shul property is an honour for the Jewish community as it has become a haven of salvation for many.

“This same building has hosted Barmitzvahs and Batmitzvahs, weddings, other ceremonies, and prayer meetings. Now, its legacy is living on through the light of these children who have just sung This Little Light of Mine.”

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