A dash of hope for Dasha

Michele du Plessis

At the recent Round Table White River 64 Sabie Tube Race, the Dasha Foundation was kindly allowed to sell their raffle tickets in an effort to raise funds for this school.

Ondine Cowell, vice chairlady of the Dasha Foundation, spoke to GPS News.

“The name Dasha Foundation is the over-all name in which all business is conducted according to the Constitution approved by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Health, Welfare and Social Services. At present the Foundation has three Facilities:  a Stimulation Centre for seriously disabled children; an educational School for children who can receive teaching according to their abilities and a Protective Workshop to which children over 18 from the school, and other adults go, to receive skills training and produce saleable goods.”

Ondine spoke about the humble beginnings of the school. “The School opened in 1995 with three children and one teacher. The numbers soon doubled. It was named DASHA School by the founder-‘Dasha’ meaning God’s Gift. Due to accommodation difficulties, the Centre and School amalgamated in 2003 and our house was purchased at the current address. The Centre began in 1993 under the name Lowveld Centre for Disabled Children and catered for two children. The Workshop was started in 2004 with children who ‘graduated’ from school and others from outside who were too old for school. We purchased the house next door as space became a problem, and a waiting list together with additional services must be met. A longer-term Development programme is in place which would enable us to have larger grounds, and provide additional facilities. The Foundation operates according to the Public School Calendar Year; and is open from 08h00-13h00 Monday to Friday followed by an afternoon care facility until 17h00.”

“Exercising and other activities are undertaken according to each child’s abilities. Regular visits by Occupational, Physiotherapists, and Oral Hygienists take place. Interaction and day-to-day skills are taught and practiced, such as feeding themselves, drawing, music, qualified instructors assist with swimming. Regular school subjects are taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, with each child working at their own level, in their own workbook. He/she follows a programme with specific goals according to their individual ability. This enables them to receive much individual attention. Basic relationships, outdoor activities and skills are dealt with. Pottery and artwork are favourites, as well as the making of hand-made paper. Swimming and other sports are encouraged with regular visits to gymnasiums. Several take part in galas and have done very well. Some children do equestrian training regularly and this improves their self-image as well as posture and physical fitness.” Ondine continued.

“Children are taught how to behave in public as well as how to relate to one another and to others. We teach through game and group interaction. Children are also expected to fulfil certain duties in the kitchen and dining room. Washing and drying of dishes, setting tables, making sandwiches and baking cookies are life skills that need to be mastered. Natural skills are developed such as knitting, sewing, bead and artwork. They are involved in papermaking, cards, fabric painting, candle-making, needlework, and pottery. Good quality products are sold as opportunities arise. Several outside jobs have been undertaken successfully which bring in some finance.”

Dasha School relies on donations, especially food donations. They can be contacted on 013 – 741 4039 or

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