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EIGHT children from Chesterville outside Durban yesterday became the first recipients of high school bursaries that will look after them until they complete their tertiary education.
The bursaries are from gaming and leisure giant Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World.
The bursary project is an extension of Suncoast's corporate social investment project and is in partnership with a Chesterville-based public benefit organisation, the Vukukhanye Community Upliftment Initiative.
The initiative seeks to intervene at social, environmental and law enforcement levels in the community of Chesterville, "he said.
Two of the recipients are already studying through Unisa, while the others are still at primary and secondary schools in the area.
Suncoast executive director Mike Dowsley said the company's partnership with Vukukhanye started last year and had included financial support and the investment of time and effort by Suncoast's staff.
Vukukhanye was formed in 2001 in response to the serious threat posed to child and family welfare caused by the HIV-Aids epidemic in the Chesterville and Cato Manor areas.
"We have been humbled and privileged to have assisted in some small way in improving the quality of life of the community of Chesterville.
"The introduction of the bursary sponsorship is especially exciting for us as it adds a new dimension to any of our previous corporate social investment commitments."
During the 2008-09 financial year Suncoast worked closely with Vukukhanye to identify eight deserving recipients from Grades 1, 5, 8 and 12 at schools in the Chesterville area.
Funding was then allocated for school fees, uniforms, stationery and other education-related expenses for the eight recipients.
"Our focus is on the holistic development of the community of Chesterville," says Vukukhanye chief executive Anthony van der Meulen.
"Areas of strategic activity include orphans and vulnerable children, early childhood development, youth and adult education, development and community safety and HIV-Aids.
"Only five percent of Chesterville residents over the age of 20 have post-secondary school education, so initiatives such as Suncoast's bursary project are vital in assisting the community to advance," Van der Meulen said.
"I am very happy and excited about being given such a great opportunity.
"I plan to make use of this opportunity to better myself and my community," said recipient Thabiso Ngcobo, 17, a Grade 9 pupil at Chesterville Secondary School.