I attended Domino Servite School from 1991 to 1997, which is when I matriculated. My earliest memories of attending DSS are of the morning assemblies: lots of beautiful Zulu singing, sunshine streaming in from the side, and aunty Kay (Rev. Erlo Stegen’s late wife who was principal at that time) telling us stories that always had a good lesson in them. I loved being at school!
Our teachers took a personal interest in our academic, social and emotional growth. Their lives inspired me to live the life of a true Christian. They walked the talk! I can mention many examples, but one particular occasion comes to mind: one afternoon, our Maths teacher called me aside. He had noticed a change in my attitude in class which he was concerned about. With infinite care he explained to me that this sort of behaviour was spoiling my character. When he had finished his talk, he had fully won my respect. From that day onward, I gladly co-operated in all the classes I attended, placing God first, and not my peers. Thank you, Mr Hlongwane! I will never forget your good advice.
Today I also realise just how many opportunities we had to engage with and appreciate the different cultures represented not only at school but also at the mission. We spoke English, Zulu, Afrikaans and German during break times on different days of the school week. We were encouraged to greet the people we met on the mission premises. That meant greeting the many visitors coming to the mission all the time. It meant developing a perceptive attitude and learning to connect with people from other backgrounds. It meant appreciating each person, no matter how different they were to yourself.
Our family lived in a cosy rondavel built into a double story, and I relished the fact that we only needed to say ‘good night’ once, and all the others could hear it at the same time! We ate free and nutritious meals at the dining hall, had hours of fun together with the other children on the mission grounds, sang a lot together and enjoyed life!
I was also always, at any time, welcome to visit onkel Erlo’s (Rev. E. Stegen) house. I spent a lot of time with his daughters. I ate many meals there and played games there. His house was always open to everyone. I cannot remember ever feeling unwelcome. I was just like a child of the family. A child who enjoyed the privileges and who received timely discipline when needed. I remember aunty Kay calling me aside once, and teaching me about behaving quietly when the adults are eating. I accepted her admonition as from a mother, took it to heart and have taught my own children the same good manners.
After school I was privileged to be able to attend the teachers’ college on the mission. College was such fun, but also a lot of good, hard work! We learned a lot in all the subjects, but what stays with me is the stories our lecturers told from their own lives. They always strove to teach us more than simply book knowledge. Skills like sewing, entrepreneurship, first aid and organizing cultural evenings were part of our training.
I am deeply indebted to the mission and its leadership for all I was enabled to enjoy and learn at Kwa Sizabantu. A firm foundation of faith and finding joy in selfless giving was laid for me, which I am not willing to exchange for anything! Most importantly, it was here that I came to know the Lord Jesus as my personal Saviour, Shepherd and Friend, Who is always near to guide me when I need Him.