Project Manager – Special Needs
I am a Cork native and a qualified solicitor. I moved to South Africa to work with Home of Hope in 2009 and I remain here now.
I am the project manager of one of the Home of Hope projects, Amathemba. Amathemba is a special needs school for children suffering from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). FASD is permanent brain damage caused by pre-natal exposure to alcohol. I also head up a program training professionals like nurses, doctors, lawyers, social workers, etc., about FASD.
In July 2010 we opened our Amathemba School after recognising that many of the Home of Hope supported children suffer from FASD and were not coping in conventional school environment. We also began our own research. In partnership with West Coast Christian School we have developed and are now piloting a schooling model which caters specifically for the special needs of children who suffer from FASD.
These children are neurologically challenged and as such struggle with behavioural, emotional and learning difficulties in varying degrees. Amathemba is the first school in South Africa catering for the specific needs of FASD and neurologically challenged children. The progress that the children attending Amathemba School are making is truly remarkable.
January was a busy month for Amathemba school. After 4 years under the guidance and wing of our partner school West Coast Christian School, we felt confident enough to strike out on our own. The main reason was that we needed more classrooms in order to take in more students. We haven’t moved too far just to the upper floor of a local church. Our staff were amazing to help us make this move in a short period of time. Everyone rowed in helping to move desks, books, equipment etc. We managed to get it over the line and welcome our old students and some new students back to Amathemba on January 21st. We were so proud of our children. Because they are brain damaged, change and transition is s big thing for them. We were expecting lots of meltdowns but low and behold they never came! Instead the children have really excelled in having their own school. They even take turns to hold assembly and prayer on Friday mornings. We hope to have many happy years ahead in our new home!
Amathemba website: http://www.homeofhope.co.za/