Welcome to my world

Hi. My name is Jami Kastner, I am the founder of The Butterfly Centre. I am leaving on Thursday 12 March to walk 100km with Lighthouse 2 Lighthouse Ladies to raise funds for this vital community project and NPO. It’s so easy to sponsor my walk, and I don’t want huge donations…I’m looking to see the true Butterfly Effect…if everyone I know could sponsor R0.50 per km, so just R50 in total, imagine the impact that could have! Please share, those who know our story know what this project means to us. Deposit your R50 to Lighthouse Ladies ABSA, Branch 632005, Savings account 9310639996 ref Jami Kastner Send POP to finance@lighthouse2lighthouse.co.za
Thank you from me, the staff and everyone involved with The Butterfly Centre, but most importantly the children. Please share.




Butterfly Centre March 2020

NPO:168-212 PBO:930055624 TEL: 0636199404


Good day, and let me introduce myself. My name is Jami Kastner, and I am the founder and Chairman of the Butterfly Centre.It is a project born from tragedy and desperately needed in our area, brought to reality through faith and miracles.

In 2013 we tragically lost our youngest son, Sam. At the same time, we were searching for a suitable learning environment for our oldest son Jack, having been diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay and severe learning challenges.

In May 2014, in order to honour Sam’s life and at the same time help children like Jack and their families, the doors to the Butterfly Centre were opened at rented premises in the village of Stanford.

What we do:

The Butterfly Centre is a centre for specialised learning which caters for children who do not fit into the mainstream environment for a variety of reasons.

At the Centre these children , often previously marginalised , are given the opportunity to fulfil their own personal full potential. This takes a very one on one approach, combined with specialised learning techniques. Most of our students are unable to pay full fees, so fundraising is vital to continue to manage and grow the project.

The children also benefit from the involvement of our wonderful volunteers and receive music, art and sports training. We have incredibly dedicated, passionate and skilled staff and are grateful for them every day.

Our goal at the Centre is to graduate young men and women who are employable and, together with their families, are empowered to deal with their challenges.

The future:

We need to consider the long term future of the children as they grow into adulthood. This is one of the many reasons why we have been raising funds to move the Centre to dedicated land at Stanford Hills Estate, at a very nominal rental. The saving of rental means it is possible for the Centre to become more self-sustainable in the future.

Circumstances dictated that our move had become really urgent, and so with R500 000 from the Nussbaum Foundation, some further fundraisers and a loan from Build It we were confident in our ability to complete the move. We have managed to complete Phase 1 of the building in time for the 2020 school year, and these facilities opened on 15 January 2020, with 15 children and a further 2 waiting to begin.

Here on the farm, surrounded by nature and animals, the children are continuing with their academic work but at the same time can receive real practical skills training. This will allow them to gain the necessary skills to be employable and productive adults living purposeful lives.

We have already seen the improvement in the childre now that they benefit from nature walks and interaction on a daily basis. They also are benefiting from  horseriding, sports therapy and individualised water safety/ swim therapy in the farm pool, thanks to amazing volunteers from African Horse Company and Grootbos Foundation.

We are looking at organising an open day towards the end of April 2020, so get in touch if you want to come and see what has already been achieved, and find out more about our dreams for the future. Send a mail to tbcoffice@gmail.com

What do we need?


We are constantly busy with fundraisers which bring in smaller amounts, but our BIG dream is to raise the R700 000 needed to complete Phase 2.

But we are never ones to dream small. The more money we can raise, the better the facilities can be. Long term, we dream of therapy rooms, a sensory room, stables from which to offer horse therapy and a therapy pool. All facilities which will benefit the whole community as well as the children of The Butterfly Centre.

The facility, once phase 2 is completed, will be made available for training in the field of helping neurodiverse children, which is a vital part of the vision for the future.


Support the Ladies to Ladies Lighthouse walk in March 2020, by sponsoring my walk of 100km. All funds raised at the 2020 walk will go towards helping the Butterfly Centre project. Find out more at www.lighthouse2lighthouse.co.za

I will personally be joining the ladies on the 100km walk, and we can’t wait to see how this journey develops together.

It’s so easy to sponsor my walk, and I don’t want huge donations…I’m looking to see the true Butterfly Effect…if everyone I know could sponsor R0.50 per km, so just R50, imagine the impact that could have! Please share, those who know our story know what this project means to us. Deposit your R50 to Lighthouse Ladies ABSA, Branch 632005, Savings account 9310639996 ref Jami Kastner

Send POP to finance@lighthouse2lighthouse.co.za

Thanks to each and every one of you, and there are so very many, who have helped and continue to help us make this dream come true.

We can’t wait to watch the Butterfly Centre truly unfold its’ wings, and fly.

Please contact us on tbcstanfordoffice@gmail.com with any questions, or to arrange to visit us!


Thank you once again, from all of us at The Butterfly Centre, but especially these special children

With all my love

Jami Kastner and the Butterfly Children

28 thoughts on “Welcome to my world


    “A brave spirit struggling with adversity is a spectacle for the Gods”

    It is not in the glare of glory
    When the crowds are at your feet,
    Or the city’s bells are pealing
    As you mount the victor’s seat.

    All that is but a passing show;
    A fleeting flash of light;
    A rain-drop glistening in the sun,
    A shooting star at night.

    True greatness lies in what’s not seen,
    And all that no-one knows;
    The long, dark years of ceaseless toil,
    The pain that never shows.
    The loneliness and misery,
    The heartaches and the fears,
    The waiting and the trait’rous doubts,
    The constant wearing cares:
    The agony of hoping
    For a dawn that never comes,
    And the mocking face of failure,
    And rejection’s down-turned thumbs.

    There reigns the greatest glory,
    Though roses are not flung:
    In valleys where the sun ne’er shines
    And victories are not sung.

    I wrote this poem some time ago, but after reading your heart-rending words, I thought that, perhaps, you might like to see it. With my very best wishes, Mike (Thurstan Bassett)

  2. WHAT truly beautiful words and such strength.

    But writing gives you strength, as does talking about our pain / fury / depression / hopelessness. Out of it can come some hope perhaps. Hope for a life with less pain; but with warmth in our hearts because we had these wonderful children, even though it was not for as long as we would have wished.

    I lost my son (aged 23) 5 years ago. The most rare of rare illness and in 3 weeks he was gone. Lynn and Peter know us and can let you know how we have tried to move on. Why must we move on? Because our sons would want us to and our other kids deserve a great life… They are living!!

    Bless you all.


  3. I admire all those such faith and the strength to carry on. Also my dear friend Christiane Behrmann lost her son. With her spiritual strength she managed to get in contact with him on the other side and found her peace in that. She is a great artist too, now living in CPT. Visit her http://www.crismanart.com

  4. Thanks Jami, never doubt your gift. I have read many esoteric books and yours is one of the most inspirational yet, for your honesty and faith. I lost my husband 8 years ago and I keep looking for signs from him. While I was reading your book with tears in my eyes my sprinkler which has been stuck on one direction only for months started doing the right thing. Lasted for a full minute before resuming its bad habits. Surely a sign and he had a wicked sense of humour. I will now look for more signs believing. Xx😇

    • Thanks Jane, so nice to hear that the book is helping others to believe. That’s a great sign, your husband sounds like a cool guy 🙂

  5. Dear Jami,

    I stumbled upon your book in a true act of fate. My flight to Durban was delayed for a third time that day. Knowing full well that all was as it was meant to be, I took a stroll to Exclusive books. As I walked in a book caught my eye. Then the title stole a little piece of my heart. By the time I had read the third line of the blurb I was in tears. And this was how I came to own and read, ‘Sam and Me and the Hard Pear Tree’.

    Although I have not had a child in this lifetime, a close friend of mine lost her baby while 6 months pregnant. The powerful connection I have felt to her journey and to yours has made me wonder if I have lost a child in a past lifetime. Perhaps with your help I am finally letting go of whatever pain or guilt prevented me from grieving then. (I know I can say these things to you and you won’t report me to the nearest psychiatric institute. Although I have contemplated self admission.)

    I would like to thank you for staying true to your journey. Your journey reminds me of why I must continue to pursue my hearts deepest wishes and walk the path set out only for me.

    With ♡

    • Oh Zoe, thank you for this message. I really needed to hear it, I am so glad that I was able to help you in your own journey. Thank you for writing to me, I haven’t opened this blog account for AGES as have not had time to write, and thus been avoiding it. Please pass the book to anyone you think could benefit, I love hearing how Sam has helped others xxx

    • Dearest Zoe, thank you for this message. It is amazing how the book will reach those who need to read it. I am so happy that it has helped you in your own journey, that really is the purpose of all of this. Don’t forget to pass the book on to someone else if you think they need to hear it. Thank you for writing to me, it means the world. Love Jami xxx

  6. Hi Jami. You wont remember me but we were at the hospital together when our sons(your first boy) had their little snip. 🙂 Never got to know you further but I heard about your story and what you and your family went through with your son – I put myself in your shoes, as a mother of 2 kiddies ,this was easy to do, and my heart felt ripped! I am so happy for you and your family that you managed to come out the other side of such an emotionally challenging time still intact.


    • Hi Carolyn, that was such a hecticly hard day! I do remember you, thank you for your message. Sometimes I can hardly believe that we are still intact, but we are. We are blessed and Sam is all around us. x

  7. Dear Jami

    Last year my hubby and I rented one of your cottages. It was winter and we felt very brave taking our two elderly staffies on a weekend away. We couldn’t have children – tried all sorts of therapies but just never blessed that’s why the love for our dogs are outrageous. Never thought that same weekend our neighbors in the cottage next door would bring their pit bull. . Hahaha. Anyway fearing a dog fight we stayed mostly indoors making fire drinking lots of wine. Saturday we experienced cabin fever and decided to leave the dogs warm and locked up and went up to the farmhouse for a wine tasting. You and your family and friends just had lunch and it was such a festive occasion. I couldn’t help but laugh when your hubby started drinking from my wine stash that I bought from him 😉 . You shared Sam’s story with us and showed us his beautiful garden. I obviously had no clue until I lost my husband in a motorbike accident in December. I accidentally found out about the book you wrote and just finished reading your experience and the deeper understanding of our fragile lives that you shared. I wanted to say thank you for helping me not ignore the feathers I keep on receiving in the strangest of places. I now know that Douw is reaching out to comfort me and give me strength. I cannot ignore the reality that his energy is all around me. I am so sad and exhausted from crying but know I will eventually be ok and am grateful I was blessed to have spent 20 years with the love of my life in this life.

    Butterflies to you in abundance x x

    • Dear Susan, I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I am grateful that my own story has helped you to have faith and feel his presence. One day, dear Susan, we will walk with our loved ones again. Feathers to you in abundance. Jami xxxx

  8. I would like to help you raise this amount for your cause. Will I be aloud to do that? I too have lost a little one and i would be glad to help and pledge as much of my support as possible towards this cause.

  9. Hi Jami

    What an inspirational article written by you Jami! As a mother who also lost a son in 2007, when he was tragically murdered on his wedding night at a Pretoria venue, I can also identify with the painful grief you shared in your article in the July 2015 issue of Woman & Home. Your positive approach is most encouraging and brave! It is never an easy choice for a family to face. Parents are never prepared for such a challenging event, especially concerning your children growing up in a sad world!
    You courageously stated that life is short on this planet, and should be celebrated often. So true! Your happy memories will always add a silver line to the dark clouds that appear from time to time.
    We, as a the family, namely, our two sons, my husband and myself, have also written a book, called Until We Meet Again, that is about to be published. It’s about our hope of meeting Mark again, to celebrate life in eternity. It has been a healing journey that we travel daily knowing that Mark is always close by.
    We still experience painfully sad triggers on special occasions. Spending time in his memorial garden is most comforting, a place we visit often.
    Beautiful flowers are always a sign of new life, and a reminder of the joy they bring, especially as we celebrated recent weddings of our two younger sons in Mark’s absence.
    Thank you for being real as you positively shared how you all as a family have picked up the pieces. We do become stronger as we stand together as a family, a great blessing we never take for granted.

    Heather Sandmann
    Drama teacher (Pretoria)

    • Dear Heather, thank you so much for writing. I am so pleased for you that you have written a book, I have found that through helping others with my words comes great healing and I hope that you will experience the same. The sadness will always remain, but one day we will walk with our boys again. Great love and strength to you and your whole family. xxx

  10. Hi Jamie. After hearing you on Classic FM I tried to buy your book from Amazon (KIndle Edition). I received response that it is not currently available for sale. Any idea why, or when it will be available again? Regards
    Elsa Kruger

    • Hi Elsa, whereabouts are you? Are you in SA? I will look into it, but in the meantime maybe you could provide an address and I could arrange for postage? Warm Regards, Jami

  11. Dear Jami, I have just finished reading your book. What a journey! I feel so desparate and cannot comprehend what you went through, but your strength is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Lots of love Jess

  12. Hi…what to say…how to start? Your anniversary is looming. I know how you feel. I wish I could say I didn’t. That I was blissfully ignorant but I;m not. We lost our 14 month old in Dec 2012. You are right, it changes you. I want to say for the better. It makes you stronger. Makes you embrace life and teaches you the meaning of love and loss. Real life. I started a group called Project Butterfly for families living with loss. We created a memorial pathway in New Zealand. Now we are going to start a book called GOOD GRIEF. 365 ways to get through the first year of grief. I would love to illustrate your strength and grace, your book and story? What do you think? Check us out at http://www.projectbutterfly.co.nz I hope to hear from you 🙂

    • Dearest Rebekah, I am so sorry I haven’t replied to your beautiful message. I haven’t been to my blog for ages because, you know, life. But your baby Mac is beautiful and your story really resonates with me. Please let me know any way I can help or be involved in your project. I am very passionate about helping others who are walking our path to heal, as you clearly are too. Thank you for reaching out, please feel free to use my story in any way that you need to. So much love to you. Your pictures of Mac made me think so much of Sam….I really do believe they are together now, and they are watching our progress with pride. With deepest love from my broken mommy heart to yours. Jami xxxx

  13. Dear Jami – I have just finished your book – too many parallels – my precious Son Samuel (Sam) – Sam I am – passed away one month ago this week – He was almost 16 months – I have been thinking of writing a book to share his story – his reach has been vast – but for now it is too raw. Thank you for sharing your story – maybe some day soon I too will have the words xx much love, Sam’s Mum Melissa X

    • How funny that I look at my blog after much too long and there is a message from you, Melissa. All that time before our paths actually crossed. So much power and love from our boys.

  14. Dear Jami, I am 180 pages into my book, and then I found yours. I don’t remember how I came across it. My daughter, Elle, age 27, died on the island where we are living on 30 August 2016. While I can ‘hear’ that I am older than you, I am astonished how much of my experience, thoughts and observances coincide with yours. I left Cape Town as a 25 year old, so there are obvious connections there. Elle and I were extremely close and she struggled from the time of puberty. I am writing my life and hers as I knew it as a way to process that heartache I feel at her loss. We were away for 2 months last summer and about a week before our return she seemed to enter a crisis and while we were talking to her during this time, she put herself in harm’s way a day before our return. I, too, am spiritual, and she has left us a legacy too, a larger family, a lot of studying, and we are also setting up a charitable association. She passed on to her sister what she saw herself doing in the field of healing in her future. She wanted all the children of the island to have an opportunity to learn, through their 5 senses, what schools don’t teach them. I haven’t done any other reaching out as I am one of these people who believe in my own ability to cope and to learn, probably not a good intent, but how I operate best. There is accidental death of a child, and then there is the one where we are left feeling perhaps, if only etc. For the most part I am able to say, it is what it is.
    Lots of peace and love, mountains rather of feathers and butterflies everywhere, Jennie

  15. hi Jami, I too am an Angel mom, 10 month in, missing my only son, Keenan, terribly. Thank you for sharing your journey, you have given me hope and inspiration!

    • Hi Edwina, I am so sorry for your pain. I hope that Sam can help you to remember to look for the signs and feel Keenan around you when you need him. One day we will walk with our children again. Love and butterflies to you. xxx Jami

  16. I am presently staying in one of your cottages, a gift given to me by a closee friend. We had the opportunity to enjoy the tasting room and to sit in Sams garden. We had no idea re Sam, but now believe we came here for a reason..out of all the places to choose from, my friend kept comming back to yours. I have not stopped reading your book and it made me reaise what I am missing as I truly have not dealt with my sons death.. Thank you for making me realise there are things I need to do….Thank you Sam

    • Thank you for writing. I am so happy that Sam has touched your life, and I pray that his life can help you to deal with your own loss. So much love to you xxx

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