canyon coal

Canyon Coal has purchased and facilitated the transfer and registration of a new property for a special needs centre the Bonginhlanhla Stimulation Centre, in Middelburg.

The centre moved into the R1.5-million worth of facilities in January 2020. However, the official handover event has been delayed owing to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Bonginhlanhla is a non-governmental organisation established in 1997 to cater for young people with physical and mental disabilities. It provides integrated programmes and services that facilitate the wellbeing and socio-economic empowerment of learners with disabilities.

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The centre promotes the integration and mainstreaming to strengthen, build capacity and self-reliance of learners with special needs. The centre also offers learners integrated developmental and therapeutic services to provide care and protection.

Canyon Coal has a long history of working with Bonginhlanhla Stimulation Centre. Canyon Coal Social Labour Plan (SLP) Manager Melissa Pillay explains that Canyon started working with Bonginhlanhla in 2015.

“The project then formed part of the SLP commitments for our Hakhano Colliery, in Middelburg. The local economic development (LED) project was identified in conjunction with the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality and the Department of Mineral Resources,” she states.

During this time, the centre was located at the Middelburg Care Village and Canyon refurbished the facility and made substantial donations of equipment to ensure the facility could cater for the learners’ special needs.

However, shortly after the handover, the centre had to move out of the Middleburg Care Village. Thereafter they approached Canyon for further assistance. Canyon assisted by purchasing a property that was previously operating as a pre-school for Bonginhlanhla.

Melissa points out that the new facility has classrooms, a kitchen, offices, toilets, indoor and outdoor play areas, which have been upgraded by the centre to make them suitable for the special needs of the learners.

Permanent Home

 “For the first time, our centre will have a facility that we own, as previously we rented premises. To own a property is very important for the centre as it allows us to be able to plan for the future, without having to worry about whether we will have to move every few years.

“It is also unsettling for our vulnerable learners, who struggle to adapt to new environments and places, to keep moving premises,” says Bonginhlanhla Stimulation Centre Manager Lindiwe Nkosi.

She adds that the new premise is larger than the ones, which the centre used previously. The larger premises allows for smaller classes and enables the centre to offer additional care and therapeutics to learners, which was not possible until now.

The centre accommodates around 50 learners, who live in and around the Middelburg region, with most of them coming from disadvantaged families. The learners who attend the centre range from 3 – 18 years old, with a new section having been established for older learners aged from 18 – 35 years.

Essential Service for Special Needs Youth

Lindiwe points out that Bonginhlanhla provides a crucial service to the community as there are very few specialised facilities that cater specifically for learners with disabilities, who require specialised care.

“For many of the learners, Bonginhlanhla offers them not only educational development and care, but also daily meals and shelter from difficult home conditions.

“Many of them come from impoverished homes, where their parents are not working, or they are cared for by elderly relatives, who cannot provide them the care they require,” she states.

Bonginhlanhla plans to reopen once the Department of Social Development gives them the all clear to do so. As Lindiwe explains, many of the learners have pre-existing health conditions which make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

“We are deeply appreciative to Canyon Coal for all its assistance over the years and for purchasing this beautiful new premises for our learners. Canyon has clearly demonstrated that it cares for the most vulnerable members of society and that it believes that no learner, regardless of their background or disabilities should be left behind.

“Some of our learners will never be able to say in words how much the new premises mean to them, but their big smiles and glimmering eyes when we moved in said it all,” Lindiwe says.

Canyon Coal Executive Chairperson Vuslat Bayoglu says:

“Supporting local communities and offering young people opportunities to improve themselves is something that Canyon Coal places a substantial emphasis on.

“We look forward to seeing the learners, once it is deemed safe to do so, return to the new premises in order for them to make full use of the facility. Bonginhlanhla offers the community an invaluable service and is a sanctuary for special needs learners, who are so often overlooked.

“It is our hope that this new facility will be used by learners for many years to come.”