With your support, we were able to open Siyabonga Creche near Mtubatuba, South Africa last January. The small, temporary facility is providing services to 28 young children. In the nine months the children have been attending the early education program, they have already learned many new things and developed socially. They have also been given at least two healthy meals a day while there, something not all the children enjoyed consistently before attending the crèche. Here is a quote from a mother about how the crèche has changed her son: “The crèche has helped my son in many ways. Now he knows how to greet in foreign language (English) and how to count. Before the crèche he used to keep to himself. Now he plays freely with other children and his future is promising too.”
Over the last three months, we have continued to work towards funding a permanent early education center that can accommodate up to 60 children. We are now working with Architecture for Humanity to complete a preliminary design of the building that will help us move forward with our plans and our fundraising efforts. We also received a generous donation from the Emmons-Bradlee Foundation that will fund one of our two classrooms. We now have almost half of the funds needed to build the center. We are optimistic about reaching our goal by next summer and being able to open the center by the start of the 2014 school year. Your continued support will help us provide these critical services to more disadvantaged children and not only meet their and their families’ immediate needs, but also set them on a course to succeed in school and change their future.
A young woman from the community, Nothando, recently spent a month volunteering at the crèche and shared with us what she experienced there. I asked Nothando what the children enjoyed most. She said they loved looking at books. Many of them don’t have books at home and they often sit in groups of three or four and look through the picture books together. They also love it when they are read a story and often interject comments. Nothando commented that they never get tired of the books they have. The children also love singing songs and reciting poems, which they like to act out. Nothando said the children are crazy about playing with blocks and they also like puzzles. She said she, like most of these children, never had blocks or puzzles at home when she was growing up. And, of course, the children love playing outside – racing each other, playing soccer, and playing with sand.
Nothando recently received a diploma in Fine Arts, so she did a number of art projects with the children. They had a chance to draw, paint, and work with clay. For their last project, Nothando had each of the children paint clothes, using watercolor. They then cut them out and pasted them up on display. She said it was great to see the children work on a project together.
Nothando said that many of the children have very sad stories. She shared with me one story that she said really touched her heart. Ntando is a five-year girl who lives with her little brother, father, grandmother, and her uncle. Her mother passed on in 2011. Ntando’s grandmother is the breadwinner of the family. She tries to support them by selling vegetables and fruit. However, she often gets taken advantage of by other people and comes home empty handed, so the family really struggles to have enough to eat. Nothando has seen Ntando buying two small bags of chips – one for herself and one for her little brother – and she knows that is all they will have for dinner. Yet, in spite of it, Ntando is a very happy child who plays and laughs at the crèche. “She is a real sweetie.” Ntando told Nothando that when she grows up, she is going to be a cook and listed all the types of food she will prepare.
Nothando said she really enjoyed her time with the children. “It was fun. Being with the children makes you appreciate life more.”
Thank you for your support. You are truly making a difference in the lives of these children. Your additional support will help fund the building of an early childhood education center that will ensure these and more children will continue to have this important opportunity.
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