Meeting the Teachers

Lumka Mahlangeni

Lumka was born in a tiny village known as Lusikisiki, near the city of Umtata in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  She lived there, happily with her mother and father and her extended family. She started her at the age of five in the village. She moved to a high school in Umtata when she was in the eighth grade in the year 2000.  However, she did not complete her final year of schooling because she fell pregnant.  This was a particularly difficult time for her, since the father of her child abandoned her and disappeared.She moved back to her village to be with her mother.  At this time her father was working in Durban.
The following year her mother passed away and she then moved to Durban to be with her father.  Her father bought a home in Montclair, but Lumka was very lonely, not knowing anyone in the area and having to care for her child without any financial support from her father. A neighbour told her about the Udobo School and she applied for a vacancy.  She had a two week period of waiting before a place opened at the school for her child.  
“I thank God and Kathy for building up the school for our children to get an education”
Lumka attended the first parents’ meeting that year when an appeal was made for parents to volunteer time in the kitchen to assist with the busy kitchen schedule.  Lumka volunteered her time and proved herself to be so reliable that she was offered the opportunity to run the aftercare service at the school.  Later she became aware that the school was looking to employ a full time kitchen assistant and offered her services.
“I am happy about my jobs and I thank God for being with me all the way!”

Cindy Dladla

Cindy was born and raised in Umlazi, a suburb to the south of Durban.  She grew up in very difficult circumstances as a member of a very large family.  Her father died when she was very young.  Once she had completed her schooling she applied for nursing college as well as with the police services, but was turned down by both.  Although she wanted to study, her mother could not afford to help her towards financing studies.  She has a young daughter.  She did not want her daughter to go to school in Umlazi for security reasons. She heard about Udobo and approached the school for placement of her child.  The school was full, but two weeks later a space opened and it was offered to Cindy’s daughter. 
They used to travel by train from Umlazi to Montclair and one day the ticket inspector would not allow them on the train.  Cindy approached the principal of the school for assistance and after many phone calls, the misunderstanding was sorted and her daughter could once again attend school.“Every day, on my way to school, I would talk to God and tell Him –God, all these buildings I see and pass by. Are You telling me that there is not a single one to employ me so as to feed my family and daughter and gain a better life?
The following year, a position opened at Udobo for a Teacher’s assistant.  The position was offered to Cindy.  She had dreamt of working at the school several times and now her dream was being realized.  In 2008, Cindy started studying towards her ECD qualification.  She had dreamt about being a student too, but couldn’t picture that, since she thought it was too late in life to study.“I thank God for the blessings He has given me.  I have hope of a future.  I encourage everyone not to give up.  It is never too late.  God will see you through.”

Roxanne Dawson

Roxanne was born and raised in Durban.  She is one of two siblings.  Her parents were divorced when she was 13 years old and her father moved away to Cape Town.  Her family experienced tremendous financial burdens and stress during this time.  When she was 17 years old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer which had also spread to the lymph nodes.  The care of her mother and her sister fell on Roxanne’s shoulders, while her mother underwent surgery and chemotherapy.  Roxanne had to face the process all over again, when in 2007, her mother was, once again, diagnosed with cancer in the other breast.
It was at the end of that year that Roxanne was introduced to the Montclair Methodist Church when she and her boyfriend attended a course being run at the church.  It was not long before she became a member of the church. At the time she was working with a day mother, looking after babies up to the age of three years.  She loves working with children.  A position for a Teacher’s Assistant opened at Udobo in 2008 and she was offered the job.  She accepted the position, although it was a huge step out of her comfort zone.  Although it took a while to settle into the new environment, she now feels that she is where she belongs.“I see my job at Udobo as a ministry.  It has been and is an awesome privilege to have the opportunity to work with ‘the least of these…’. I am so grateful that God has brought me to this place.  I am now studying towards my ECD qualification – what a great privilege and honour to able to study.  I pray that God will continue to grow the passion He has lit inside of me.”

Daria Heyes

Daria is the second last of eleven siblings.  She grew up in Wentworth, a suburb on the south side of Durban.  Her father passed away when she was twelve years old.  Her mother experienced very difficult time financially, trying to raise such a large family on her own. After completing her schooling she married and moved to Portugal.  She lived in financial comfort there and gave birth to three children, two of whom are a twin.  When her oldest son was 10 years old her husband disappeared after bringing the family back to South Africa. This was a very traumatic time for her and her very young family, who had to now adapt to living with nothing. 
She had to take on two jobs in order to meet her monthly financial needs.
Through a friend who attended the Montclair Methodist Church, she was made aware of the existence of Udobo.  When a new post was being considered as a possibility, she applied for the position.  However, the post did not materialize until much later and the position was offered to someone else.  A year later, a position for a Teacher’s Assistant became available and her friend walked into Kathy’s office with a new copy of her CV, just as Kathy was looking in the file for her original one.  She was given the post.  It was not long before she was given a teacher’s position.“I am so grateful to God for what He has done for my family from the time I joined the staff of Udobo.  I have obtained my NQF level 5 which makes me a fully qualified grade R educator.  I thank Kathy for giving me the opportunity and for the faith and trust she placed in me.  I am grateful for your mentorship and for having been able to get to know you.”


Colleen Roden

Our granny, Colleen was born in Zimbabwe when it was still Rhodesia in a little town called Umtali. Her father was very sickly and so the family returned to South Africa when was still very young. Her parents ran a Trading store in a farming community and so she spent her entire school career at boarding school. As a child she suffered an attack of rheumatic fever and recognizes how blessed she was in those days to have survived. She is married, has two children and two grandsons. When she was retired at the age of 66 years, she became frustrated at being without a job to do. As a member of the Montclair Methodist Church, she heard the appeal for volunteers to assist with the preparation of the children’s daily meals.
She volunteered without hesitation.  She found herself being uplifted by the children singing joyful songs that can be heard throughout the property and was impressed by the obvious happiness of these children.  Kathy approached her to pray about joining the team on a more permanent basis as a Teacher’s Assistant.  “I took her advice and prayed and I am delighted to say that I have been with the school for 3 years now.  God has shown me the wonderful work being done at the school.   These little children are so appreciative and add sunshine to one’s life.  Udobo has definitely had an impact on my life and given me a deeper understanding of the needs of others.  I thank God every day for leading me to the school and giving me the strength to continue working with His children.  I give Him all thanks and praise!”

Mirriam Gugushe

Mirriam was born in a village called Mpharani in the district of Matatiele in the Transkei, south of KZN, South Africa.  She is one of four children.  Her father was the only breadwinner, but he passed away when she was very young, leaving her mother to fend for four little without any income whatsoever. The children were separated and farmed out to relatives and were not allowed to see each other again until they were adults.  Her mother then tried to live life as best she could.  This was a very sad and lonely time in Mirriam’s life. Mirriam left her relatives and moved in with a kind benefactress in Marianhill when she got to high school. 
She completed her schooling under the care of this lady.  However, when the time came for tertiary educational, her benefactress had died and she was left without support once again.  She moved to Umlazi and joined a church, where she made a decision to accept Jesus into her life.  She found that doors opened for her to find employment to enable her to feed herself.  She was not happy and desperately wanted to work with children.  Early in 2005, while in prayer she sensed God instructing her to go to Montclair.  Never having been in Montclair before, she felt uncertain, but she decided to follow the prompting of her heart.  She walked the streets of Montclair until she saw the Udobo School sign and felt, once again, prompted to approach the principal.  The assistant at the time, had just resigned in order to pursue a high school teaching qualification, so Mirriam’s arrival was miraculous to say the least. When she arrived, the school existed with only one classroom and 3 playrooms.  She has therefore, been privileged to watch the school grow every year, to what it is now.“I was also blessed to have the opportunity of traveling over to the UK to do a promotional trip for the school.  This was something I never dreamt would ever happen to me.  But the greatest blessing of all is that because of Udobo, I am now a qualified Grade R teacher and I am living my dream.”

Anne Snyders

Anne grew up in Cape Town as one of three siblings. She did her entire schooling in Cape Town. She became very involved in church life and church activities from a very early age and by the time she was 16 years old, she was already a Sunday School teacher. She ended up teaching Sunday school children for 32 years, the last few years as the Sunday School Superintendent.  Her involvement in church activities is now as a singer in the church worship group. After school she worked for company as a translator. It was during this period that she met and married her husband, Pierre.They have been married for 34 years and have four adult sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and one granddaughter.
She became a qualified Grade R teacher 20 years ago and has worked between two preschools in the Durban area.  At the second school she was introduced to the world of autism, and found that the more she worked with these little ones the more her passion for them grew.  She became involved with the Autism South Africa association and still works on a part-time basis with individual autistic children.“In 2008 God began nudging me towards Udobo.  Even though I spent a tremendous amount time in prayer, the decision to move was a very difficult one.  I was in a place where I was loved and valued and COMFORTABLE!  However, I have found Udobo to be an amazing place of blessing for children, parents, guardians and staff.  It is wonderful to be part of a work that is a ministry and to experience miracles almost every day. I thank God daily for a life of such joy, even when times are difficult.  He has never let me down.”

Amos Teuro

Amos was born and raised in a rural village in Zimbabwe, known as Mutoko.  His father worked in Harare and so he spent his school life there.  After school he studied for and attained his diploma in Education. He taught in two rural and two urban schools before resigning from the profession in Zimbabwe.  He resigned due to the deteriorating circumstances in Zimbabwe and he left his wife and baby daughter behind to seek asylum and employment in South Africa.  He joined his cousin in Durban and they attend the Montclair Methodist Church.  Upon his first visit to the church, he was introduced to Kathy Mercer who was the principal of Udobo at the time.
He was becoming most despondent about the employment situation and never thought to get a teaching post in South Africa.  It was not long after his introduction to Kathy that a teaching position opened at the school, and by miracle he was found and offered the post.  Since joining the staff of Udobo, he has been able to upgrade his qualification to include specialization in pre-school teaching.“I believe that God brought me to Udobo, because the circumstances of my getting a job at all, is a miracle.  It is from here that I have been able to sustain my family in Zimbabwe and to provide for them in a way that I was unable to do at home.  I believe my daughter will be in attendance at Udobo in 2010.”
Amos’s greatest blessing has been the arrival of his wife and daughter in Durban, from Zimbabwe in February of 2009. 

Edinah Pasipamire

Edinah Pasipamire hails from Zimbabwe.I first heard of the Udobo School on Christmas day (25 December 2009) at church and that they could do with some help. I was doing some studying so I started off as a volunteer. It was surely an eye opener. It made me realise how many things we take for granted and how young children so trustingly depend on adults.Although I have worked with older children nost of my life, working with these precious, young and energetic kids was a big challenge at first. The biggest barrier was that I could hardly understand their language and would feel their pain when they realised I could not understand them.
Somehow we developed our special way of communicating and before I knew it I had joined their 'world' and I now have the blessing of them smiling back at me when we talk.
An opportunity arose and I joined the Udobo team in May 2010 as an assistant teacher. It was a humbling experience to recive this call to serve the Lord. I receive lots of support from the staff amd have learnt so much, I am still learning but it is an honour . I have made a lot of small, trusting and inquisitive friends who brighten my working day and I treasure and adore them. Watching the kids grow makes me realise how different and special we are in the eyes of the Lord. On a personal note, I am still enjoying Ethekwini's warm weather and will hopefully have lots of fun teaching the children about God. May He bless all the hands that help at Udobo School.

Lizette Plaatjies

My name is Lizette Plaatjies.  I'm 35 years of age and was born in Namibia.  I grew up in the Northern Cape ( Upington).  I lost my mom at a young age and was adopted by my grandparents. After matric, I started working and got married in 2003.  I have 2 children, a son (8) and daughter (5).  In 2009 we moved to Durban due to my husband getting a transfer.After our arrival we started worshipping at MMC and at that stage I joined Angels of Mercy as a vlolunteer.  This is where I was informed about the vacant driver position at Udobo School.I applied and was appointed in 2010.  I got more included in the classes as an assistant.

 I am currently handling the ToyRUs fundraising project for the school.  I'm currently studying towards a Level 5 (High Scope) certificate in order to move forward in the school and to equip the children of our school better for the future.