Keys to a new beginning: Principal Simollang Pooe has dedicated her life to creating a safe environment for the children in her community. The owners of these small crèches often do so for very little financial reward. Now she has the keys to a bright new establishment
Early Childhood Development (ECD) – which usually takes place at a crèche or pre-school – is a crucial part of a child’s education, ensuring that they develop their full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential.
In South Africa’s informal settlements, however, most of these pre-schools are simply located at the home of a kind woman willing to look after infants and toddlers, so that their parents can go to work with peace of mind.
Most often these homes are lean-to shacks of corrugated iron that are boiling hot in summer and icy cold in winter. They leak in the rain and have little ventilation. There are very few educational toys and equipment, let alone qualified staff. Most do not have adequate toilets.
Some centres can even be unsafe.
We assist some of these centres through infrastructure improvement projects, affectionately called “makeovers”, with volunteer groups from around the world.
Last year, a team of Swiss volunteers raised enough money to build a new school at Simollang ECD centre in Rustenburg. They also got their hands dirty to transform the centre – and the lives of children, parents and caregivers.
When the new school year begins, everyone will be eager to attend.
Bare necessities: Before the makeover, Simollang was housed in a corrugated iron shack which is not the best environment for children. The renovated centre now boasts three classrooms, toilets, a kitchen and sick bay facility as well as an outdoor playground. A JoJo tank has been installed to catch and supply water. Additionally, educational toys, tables and chairs, mattresses, bed, linen, kitchen equipment, an office chair and desk have been provided.
Team work: Volunteers and staff worked together to revamp Simollang pre-school; they even planted a lawn from scratch for the playground
Fancy footwork: Children get in on some of the action to make their mark on the new buildings
High-hoe: The team managed to squeeze in some laughs during their hard slog
Walk to the future: The Swiss team fetch the children in time for the ‘big reveal’
It’s done, time for fun: After exploring their new school, the children and volunteers made sure to capture the memories
Miles of smiles: The children enjoy their new classrooms
Festive feast: The principal’s family and friends prepared a ‘thanksgiving’ feast for everyone to enjoy together as a token of their appreciation
Maryke Jankowitz is a photographer, graphic designer and also media librarian at ForAfrika. She is passionate about capturing African stories in a visual format.