The Springboks on Tuesday took time out of their busy schedule to put smiles on the faces of the children at the Dasha Foundation in Nelspruit when they donated R15,000 from their internal players’ fund to this school for intellectually and/or physically disabled children and young adults. The decision on the donation was made among the players and three members of the Springbok squad who hail from the Nelspruit-region, Duane Vermeulen, Trevor Nyakane and Marnitz Boshoff, visited the school on Tuesday morning to hand over the cheque. The cheque was received on behalf of the Dasha Foundation by their principal, Ms Shirley Parsons, with a bunch of the children milling around, interacting and playing with the three Springbok players.
“We don’t always realise how privileged and fortunate we are and to be able to give back to the children from Nelspruit is very humbling and special. It was wonderful to interact with the kids, see the smiles on their faces and hear that all of them support the Springboks. We want to thank them for the opportunity to visit their school and wish them well for the future,” said Vermeulen, who grew up in the Lowveld and attended Nelspruit High School.
“Dasha” is a Russian word that means “Gift of God”. The school opened in 1995 with three children and one teacher, but today its home to 47 people ranging in age from five to 27. Apart from regular visits by occupational and physiotherapists, the children also exercise according to their own needs, while day-to-day skills such as feeding themselves, drawing and playing music are taught and practiced.
The children are also taught regular school subjects, such reading, writing and arithmetic, with each child working at their own level, in their own workbook. Pottery and art work are favourite activities, swimming and other sports are encouraged with regular visits to gymnasiums and the children are also taught life-skills, how to behave in public as well as how to relate to one another and to others.