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30 September 2020 | Story Nitha Ramnath | Photo Supplied
SWSA represented by Mariné du Toit (left) and Lyshea Mapaike(right) at the handover of the funds raised

Sunflower Children’s Hospice, situated on the ground floor of the National District Hospital, is a non-profit organisation that provides care and compassion for all children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. As far as possible, the hospice aims to keep children within their families and communities, with relevant supervision and support.  However, the hospice is also a permanent residence to many children.

At Sunflower Children’s Hospice, children and their families are provided with:
• palliative care, including pain and symptom management;
• quality of life;
• relief of suffering;
• support for child and family/guardians;
• developmental stimulation;
• support during the bereavement period;
• dignity in death;
• community participation; and
• relevant training.

Due to limited funds, the hospice experiences many financial challenges, which motivated the Social Work Student Association (SWSA) to become involved. Their involvement led to the establishment of the ‘#Adoptaflower’ project by raising funds for the organisation and getting more Social Work students to spend time with the children, as they do not have enough caregivers at the house to give them the special personal attention that they need.  This project was spearheaded by Mariné du Toit, Portfolio Head: Community Upliftment of the SWSA. 

The fundraising initiative collected R1 300 from selling raffle tickets to the university community.  Due to COVID-19 and the lockdown period, it became impossible to proceed with the intention of the Social Work students to spend more time with the children.  

Besides Social Work students not being able to proceed with their intention of interacting more closely with the children concerned, the lockdown unfortunately also affected it negatively in other areas.  The hospice needs assistance with clothes, toiletries, and groceries. Sunflower House therefore needs funds and sponsors to continue providing services to so many children in need of care and support. For more information regarding public involvement, 051 448 3813 is the number to call. 

News Archive

Two degrees in three years for former teacher
2013-12-17

Jacqui Middleton

When Jacqui Middleton entered university in 2011, she did so alongside her daughter, both women enrolling for their first-year studies at the University of the Free State. Three years later and the mother of three have completed two degrees – a double feat achieved with distinction.

Middleton, a former teacher, will receive a BA degree in Corporate and Marketing Communications at the April 2014 graduation ceremony and a master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture at the June graduation ceremony. With these two qualifications in the bag, Middleton will pursue her studies with a BCom Honours degree next year, as well as a PhD degree in Sustainable Agriculture.

“It was my first full-time studies since 1988,” says Middleton. “I was a teacher for 22 years and my husband kept saying that I needed to get out of the classroom and into the corporate world. I was reluctant because I was so passionate about education and my children were still at school.”

Things changed when Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, visited the Ikanyegeng Primary and High School in Jacobsdal – where she was a teacher – to deliver a motivational talk. Middleton approached Prof Jansen about a bursary. The next year, with the support of her family, she moved to Bloemfontein and stayed on campus studying for two degrees.

“For me it was a major step of faith because we were relying on my salary and I had to give that up to study, so we had to believe there is something bigger beyond the three-year period.”

Something bigger definitely awaited. Her study record of the last three years reflects a dedicated student who passed most of her subjects with marks higher than 80%. 

With her new qualification, Middleton will follow a career in agriculture and farming with her husband. ”I am still passionate about education, but now I am passionate about educating farmers to assist with the land reform process. Land reform is crucial for food security in our country and at the moment we need more success stories of black farmers moving from emerging to commercial farming. I believe that whatever you studied in life should not be wasted.”

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