English was NOT my strength at school (as you will no doubt be able to tell) and writing letters to editors is certainly not something I have done before. But I cannot be silent anymore as this negative, mostly one-sided, news about KwaSizabantu is forcing my hand.
I did not grow up on the mission but come to board at the mission for schooling from grade 4. My experience of KwaSizabantu Mission (KSB) and Domino Servite School (DSS) is not the negative one portrayed on News24 and the media. I had the opportunity of receiving an excellent education, being instructed by warm and caring teachers. DSS always gave me the opportunity to challenge myself and participate in external competitions. An example of this was the opportunity I was given to participate and enter projects in science expos in my later high school years. To describe KSB and DSS as closed off to the outside world is preposterous.
Early in the year 2000, in my matric year, I was diagnosed with cancer. This diagnosis changed everything for me – what followed was operations and months of chemotherapy. However, DSS – the teachers and the learners – were so kind to me. They allowed me to come to school when I could or, when I was too weak to attend class, sent my schoolwork home to me. When my hair fell out due to the chemo and I came to school in a beanie – other learners in my class came with beanies too. I never felt rejected, instead I always felt supported. (Clearly, the claim that the Mission does not allow medical treatment is ludicrous and outrageous!)
During that tumultuous matric year DSS still allowed me to participate in the science expo. That year, for the first time, I went from provisional to nationals in Pretoria – an experience I will always be grateful for. Due to the dedication of the teachers and their endless support for me, I went on to write the matric exams, pass my matric and ended up as senior dux.
Right after matric I was given work opportunities on the mission and, in a short time, have gained work experience I would never have dreamed of getting elsewhere.
I am eternally grateful for the endless support and opportunities the Mission and Domino Servite School have given to me. I have always known Rev Erlo Stegen as a person who would give the shirt off his back to help someone else in need. However, to write about how he has supported me personally would be another story entirely.