The Institute was founded on 13 March 1947. The aim was to start a school for deaf children in the north. The first school to be established was Transoranje School for the Deaf, on 16 August 1954. It became clear, however, that the Institute would also have to establish schools for children with other disabilities.
The current Institute schools are the following:
Transoranje School for the Deaf
Prinshof School for the Visually Impaired
Sonitus School for the Hearing Impaired
Transvalia School for Epilepsy and Learning Disabilities
Martie du Plessis High School for the Cerebral Palsied
Since the inception of the first school in 1954, the Institute has been supporting the schools financially and enabling thousands of children with disabilities to receive education of an exceptional quality. These children come from all over the country and many of them reside in the hostels at the schools.
The Institute functions independently of the five schools and supports the schools financially by making quarterly contributions to the schools for assistance to underprivileged children. This is an essential service since many of the parents cannot meet their financial obligations to the schools, which puts the schools’ budgets under immense strain.
Project Sunshine was initiated five years ago when we realised that the number of underprivileged learners in the five schools increases every year. The parents of these learners cannot meet their financial obligations to the schools, with the result that the schools’ budgets no longer balance.
The Institute decided to allocate an amount to each school quarterly, on receipt of a comprehensive claim. The funds allocated are employed as follows:
• Schoolbags and stationery. School beginners receive a schoolbag with the necessary stationery. Stationery is provided continuously to other learners when required.
• Clothing. Learners receive the school clothes and shoes most needed. School boarders receive clothes and underwear. Especially during the winter months, learners are provided with sweaters, vests and where possible with windbreakers.
• Toiletries. Many of the school boarders have no toiletries. It is essential that these children are assisted so that they can maintain their human dignity.
• Food. Each school has a feeding scheme where learners are provided with food on a daily basis. Food parcels are given to them to take home during holidays.
• School fees, bus fees and hostel fees. The parents cannot meet these obligations. Most of the children must use the school buses, municipal buses and cabs because they live far from the school (especially the children with blindness). They are simply not allowed to do so if they cannot pay.
Learners who live far from the school are not permitted to the hostels if they cannot pay. Paying school fees ensures that the child can receive education and that the school does not suffer a loss.
• Special equipment
o Learners with blindness use a brailler. A brailler is available at the school, but the child has to do homework, which necessitates the purchase of a second brailler. However, the parents cannot bear the cost. At present, the cost is R14 000, depending on the exchange rate.
o Learners who depend on hearing aids must replace the batteries on a regular basis. Most of them cannot afford any repair cost.
o Severely disabled learners are depended on wheelchairs, special computers and tutors. Many must also be provided with nappies.
• Achievers in academics, sport and culture. Underprivileged learners who excel in these fields are supported financially. This ensures that they can go on sport tours and academic excursions, and take part in cultural activities.
Project Sunshine ensures that underprivileged children have the same opportunities as their fellow learners, and that they can maintain their human dignity in the process. Without this additional assistance they would be deprived of the opportunity to reach their full potential.