KANYEMAZANE, South Africa The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has helped fill an essential need for 960 children at the Vulamasango Primary School in Kanyemazane, South Africa.

Elder F. Michael Watson, a Church leader who oversees Southeast Africa, was on a visit to the school to thank administrators for allowing the Church to use the school for church services when he learned the city routinely interrupts the school’s water supply without notice. This action has prevented the students from having a cooked meal and using the restrooms. Many of the children are orphans, and the only meal they receive each day is school lunch. The Church donated a 5,000 liter emergency water tank to fill in the gaps when the water is turned off.

The Church formally gave the water tank to the school in a special hand-over ceremony on Friday, 19 March 2010. More than 100 parents attended, along with education leaders and principals from neighboring schools. The Church also gave all 960 students bags containing basic school supplies and special toys for the preschool children.

Speaking directly to the children, Elder Watson said, “We have brought school bags and a much needed water tank today to help you, but in return you have given back to us so much more. Your gift to us is the love felt deep in our hearts.”

Elder Watson and his wife, Jolene, were accompanied at the event by public affairs and humanitarian missionary couples based in Johannesburg and other missionaries serving locally in the area.

Dr. G.D.A. Manzini of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government Department of Education expressed appreciation for the Church’s donation of the much needed water tank and school supplies. He said, “We are humbled by your gesture. What you have done will remain imprinted in the minds of all the students here today.”

Dr. Manzini also spoke of the need for involvement by the parents and reminded students and parents that the children can speak English today because of the efforts of the missionaries from the Church: “We all need to work together, and that religion and education begins at home.” 

A certificate of appreciation was presented to the Church from the Mpumalanga Department of Education in recognition of the outstanding partnership and support in school development and for bringing hope and relief. A chorus of the school children sang to their headmaster, Rafael Phiri, and other students dressed in costumes and performed their local native dances.

The Church has two small congregations in the Nelspruit region. Two of the six full-time missionaries serving in the area are invited by the school to teach English classes two days a week and hold a devotional at the school every Wednesday.

Humanitarian aid in the form of disaster relief, medical supplies, clean water, wheelchairs and school supplies has been a great help to the residents of the area. The Church donated a substantial amount in humanitarian aid in 2009 to 19 countries in Southeast Africa.