The school started with the capacity for 40 children from neighbouring farms. Arcadia Rotary Club was instrumental in its founding and has had a continued involvement in the school’s story and development.
However, it was only after a visit to Thoboshana in 2010 that Rotary Ann, Rommy Naude, decided to take on Thoboshana as her personal project, improving the school and the lives of all those involved immensely.
Naude and her family from the Netherlands visited the school with Rotarian, Goeff Howes for the first time in 2010.
“My younger sister is a principal at a school in Holland and she suggested becoming ‘twin’ schools with Thoboshana, from then on, through the Rotary network we’ve been able to improve the terribly dilapidated school to what it is today,” said Naude.
Thoboshana ran smoothly as a small farm school for a while, but as the demand grew, the classrooms did not.
“Apart from the lack of classroom space, there were many maintenance backlogs that the school could not afford to attend to. Bathrooms were broken down, there were holes in the roof, shacks were used as classrooms,” she said.
The school had very poor infrastructure, but also fell victim to many break-ins, during which most of their electric wiring was stolen.
From 2011, through the Rotary Arcadia network and with donations made by Naude and her family, renovations to the broken down school were made.
“My family overseas set up a bank account for the school,” said Naude. “We have friends and family who donate money whenever they can.”
Over a few years the school buildings were effectively renovated, new flooring was put in and electricity was re-installed, gutters were fixed and water tanks were put in use for the school.
A vegetable garden was also established in order to help the kitchen staff who provide a warm meal for the children at school every day.
The school now caters to over 300 pupils and space or lack thereof is still an issue that Rotary have been working to improve.
In August 2014, through the Rotary Network, Lewis Stores became interested in Thoboshana and chose to be a donor to the school. Lewis Stores donated two new classrooms at a cost of R580000
Through various funds and donations Rotary Arcadia upgraded the assembly space and also improved the sites in front of the classrooms.
“It’s been a very long journey. We’ve accomplished a lot and have had a lot of input from various donors and individuals,” said Naude.
Rotarian, Bernard Lindstrom said: “It’s really all thanks to Rommy. She’s a go-getter and she’s been heavily involved in the wellbeing of the school since her first visit.”
Despite the Department of Education’s lack of involvement, the school recently won a prize from the Department of Environmental Affairs.
After presenting a very creative, entertaining and educational performance on awareness of the environment, the school received R 70000 which will be used to build a new classroom.
Although there is still a lack of space, Naude and Rotary Arcadia are consistently working to improve and maintain the school. Thoboshana continues to grow and flourish through Naude’s commitment and Rotary Arcadia’s involvement.
“It’s wonderful to see how the changes Rotary has made, has affected the lives of all involved in the school. It’s magic” said Lindstrom.
“There is still a lot more to do, but I feel that we’ve given the parents, teachers and pupils back their dignity,” said Rommy. “They have a school that they can be proud of.”