EVEN though former Hillcrest Primary School teacher, Minnie Trimalley, retired from the classroom in 2014, she has not given up helping future generations of learners, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to learn the value of education.
For the past four years she has continued to give back to the community of Helenvale, where she once taught, by running a yard school where she offers education sessions to children between the ages of one and five.
“Every Thursday I hold two hour classes in Helenvale and 7de Laan, where I teach the children the basics which are taught at any creche and pre-primary school – things such as life skills, mathematics, languages and most important how to read,” said Trimalley.
She added how the exercise of reading encouraged the little ones to appreciate books, while also extending their vocabulary and knowledge.
The sessions also include teachings on the dangers of substance abuse.
“So many young children are roaming the streets daily. With my experience and passion I could not for a moment turn a blind eye while the children grow older without having received basic education, which they need while they are in the developmental age group,” said Trimalley.
She described how some of the children have never even set foot in a classroom due to their personal circumstances.
“It is really heartbreaking to see some of the children arriving with nothing but a vest on, during a very cold morning. I honestly wish I could do more.”
Trimalley also consults with parents in the community as well as learners to assist them with social problems.
“The school principal at Hillcrest offered me an office that I can use at the school. This is where I hold the consultation sessions,” she said.
Some of the issues she deals with include assisting parents with financial problems, among other things.
“For example some of the grandparents live with their grandchildren. They do receive a government grant; however, the children’s parents spend the money on less important things than the needs of their children.
“I then refer them with a written letterhead of the school to the different departments, centres and organisations that can be of help to them where they can explain their situation,” said Trimalley.
She also goes above and beyond to ensure that children who are victims of sexual or physical abuse get the help they need. This she does by referring them to local social workers or Childline.
“There are so many success stories to share and that is what makes it all worthwhile. A few years ago I identified two sisters with a hereditary eye disease and with the assistance of the education support centre they were enrolled at a special school.
“Many of the children I teach do very well and achieve so much, irrespective of the situations they face in their daily lives.
“They always strive to do their best and their dreams do get fulfilled,” she said.
Responding to the biggest lesson she has learnt from the selfless work that she does, Trimalley said, “You don’t need to do good for others and expect something in return.
“It’s not how much I benefit from life, but how beneficial my life has been to others that really matters in the end.
“If I can make a difference in someone’s life out there, that is an achievement. I always encourage my pupils and say, there can be miracles when you believe.”
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