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Special needs school in Sandton burns down

2 min read


Little Forest Centre is an education centre based in Sandton, South Africa, specialising in education for children with special needs from 18 months to 10 years old.

On Friday, the 9th of September 2022, the centre burnt down completely. A surge of electricity after load shedding is a possible cause of the fire, but the school is still waiting on a forensic report.

Speaking to Radio Islam, Kate More from the centre said it was an electrical fault after load shedding. The timing was precisely when the power surged, and the power came back on again, adding that it was devastating to see the building in ashes.

More said that a staff member living on the property called her at about 5:30 pm on Friday to notify her of the fire. Her first thought, Kate said, was that her colleague was pulling a prank on her and just wanted her to come for a visit.

She arrived at the school and saw the flames and fire trucks, noting that it was so quick, and even with the fire department present, they could not access the water pipe due to a burst pipe in the area.

Kate described the event as a perfect storm.

But she says the Peterville community were fantastic as they formed a human chain with buckets, starting at the neighbour’s pool and throwing buckets of water at the fire. Unfortunately, it took an hour for the building to be destroyed.

Kate, a speech therapist, says her vision when she opened the centre was to find a school for the kiddies she saw for therapy to give them the resources to learn.

Her practice in the centre was slow to take off, but it doubled in size in the last six months. They have gone from four kids at the end of the first year to fourteen. There are over thirty children, and the school employs therapists and assistants with fifty years of experience working with children with special needs.

Kate says her heart broke whilst watching the flames consume the centre, and her thoughts were, “My babies, My babies”.

The community and her staff, she says, have been phenomenal. After convening a staff meeting at her home on Saturday morning, they started planning. The neighbour has generously offered their cottage and garage area to use in the interim. By the looks of things, they should be up and running by Monday in their temporary venue.

The local nursery school and special needs high school have offered classrooms for them, for which she is grateful, but she did want a space where she could keep all the kids together.

[LISTEN] to the podcast here

By Muhammad Bham




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