On January 16, 2012, Siyabonga Crèche opened in a 400 square foot cement block building. The building is part of the homestead of the center’s director, who is generously loaning it to the community until funds can be raised to build a childcare center. The community committee overseeing the crèche set the enrollment cap at 20 children because of the size of the space. By the end of the first week of operation, that cap had been met. By the end of the first month, eight additional children were admitted and a long waiting list established. The director explained: “By now, I have 28 children. I couldn’t prevent it, as more desperate children came late. I couldn’t turn them away, given their difficult situation.” Thus we are now working hard to raise funds to build a new center that can accommodate all of the children in need in the area and provide expanded services.
In the area served by the center, many children live in single parent households or are living with a grandparent or other family member. The area is part of a former homeland, or bantustan, where many black South Africans were forced to move under Apartheid. Due to this history and ongoing inequalities in the country, the local economy is struggling and many families lack sufficient land or means to support themselves. Thus, many families rely on the wages secured by sending a family member (often a parent) to work far from home.
One of our first student’s story tells a familiar tale. Vusi lives with his aunt and her two children. His mother left him behind when she went to look for a job in Johannesburg to try to support the family. His guardian told us that before Vusi attended the center, “he was lonely and kept to himself; he usually seemed angry and used to cry all the time.” She went on to say that since he started attending the center, “he laughs and plays with other children. He enjoys being with his peers more than anything, except toys.”
This area also has one of the highest documented rates of HIV in the world and many children have lost one or both parents to AIDS or a related disease. The provincial government estimates that nearly 20% of the children in KwaZulu Natal have experienced the lost of a parent. The last two children admitted to the center are among these. Sphelele, age four, and Zama, age two, are sisters. They lost their mother in January and since then have been living with their grandmother and their extended family of seventeen. Their grandmother works hard to make ends meet, working 10 to 12 hours a day as a woodcutter in a local factory. She told us that now that the children are enrolled in the center, she can go to work without worrying about their safety. Sphelele’s and Zama’s grandmother told us: “they have benefited a lot from the crèche; they used to fight and bite each other and kept to themselves. Now they wake up and have something to look forward to everyday.”
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.