2023 is a very special year for Focus on iThemba indeed – it is the year we celebrate our 20th Founding Anniversary! We reach this milestone with hearts filled with gratitude for where our journey has brought us.
In 2003 a dream came to fruition for Danie and Judy van den Heever when their aspiration to facilitate significant change for the youth in the Valley of 1000 Hills was realised through the establishment of Focus on iThemba. Moved by the words of Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can,” Danie and Judy transformed our iThemba Campus into a haven of hope for orphaned and vulnerable children from the Valley. Over the years, and as the children grew older, this vision to make a significant difference broadened into impacting not just the hearts of children but their minds also. This led to the birth of our education based Programmes, the iThemba Educare and iThemba Scholars Programmes. Our reach now extends to over 2000 children, teachers and parents in our iThemba Educare Programme; and sixteen iThemba Scholars currently attending Waterfall Schools from Grades 0000 – 9.
The van den Heever’s vision did not end there. Through endless hours of planning, dreaming and action, our beautiful iThemba Campus – once home to a couple of small weathered buildings dotted amongst the gum trees – is now a thriving indigenous ecosystem hosting a profusion of wildlife and is a place of learning and exploration for nearly 800 children who attend Waterfall Schools.
Our journey was shared and celebrated with longstanding friends and partners in June. Our morning began with a walking tour of iThemba Campus which has been our home since 2005 and has seen unbelievable changes over the years, superseding even our wildest dreams. We then shared a time of reflection, testimony sharing and connecting, followed by a walk through our indigenous garden – marked with significant milestones over the past 20 years.
We are acutely aware of the privileged position we find ourselves in, surrounded by people who have bought into our vision and whose ongoing loyalty, support and prayers have carried us through the past two decades. We extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who have walked our journey with us, and we look towards the future with hope, inspiration and expectations of great things to come for our community.