Standing bold and bright amidst the brown and broken of Thembelihle informal settlement near Lenasia in Gauteng is Leshoko Day Care Centre. Judging by the fun they’re having, these children look like they’re on holiday camp and young principal, Deliwe Segodi is all smiles too. For this child care centre, Christmas has come early thanks to a makeover funded by JAM Switzerland.
“I don’t have words to describe how I feel. I appreciate everything that has been done,” comments Deliwe Segodi, principal of Leshoko Day Care Centre. “On behalf of everybody, I would like to say thank you guys. We promise to keep it safe, look after it and we’re going to share it. Thank you!”
The old Leshoko had sad looking shacks as classrooms, a nearly bare playground and yet Deliwe and her teachers were doing their best to live up to the centre’s motto: ‘We’re the future, we’re the light’. The new Leshoko has sturdy prefabricated classrooms, a new ablution block, separate kitchen, a sick room and office, solar lighting, safety equipment, grass, toys, outdoor playing equipment, educational books and puzzles and, of course, bright and happy colours everywhere!
All of this has been funded by a dedicated and hard working Swiss etam, who came to South Africa for the sole purpose of transforming this child care centre and making a long-lasting difference to the children of Leshoko Day Care Centre.
“It was a great experience just seeing what’s possible in one week, working together as a team. Seeing Deliwe, how passionate she is about education and the kids. It was worth spending time and money on something good and we trust her that she will make something good come out of this,” says Christa Jungen, one of the volunteers in the JAM Swiss team.
Joint Aid Management (JAM) is a South African founded humanitarian development organisation with the vision of Helping Africa help itself. The objective of JAM SA’s Makeover programme is to improve JAM-supported child care centres to create a healthy, safe learning environment for vulnerable children, encouraging their complete development and preparation for formal school readiness.
The fist line item of every makeover budget is always the feeding of the children for at least a year. Leshoko joined JAM SA’s nutritional feeding programme in 2011, with JAM supplying a highly nutritious porridge for the children’s breakfast each morning. This porridge, CSS+, provides the children with 75% of their daily micro-nutrient requirements.
Deliwe says that the new centre will make a huge difference to the children’s early childhood development. “They have so much to do now – there is gardening, so they can learn how to plant, and toys and so much space to play!” Deliwe and her mother have just a Level 1 qualification in ECD, but Deliwe would love to study further to improve the ECD in the centre to match the new face of Leshoko!
“I think it’s awesome work that JAM is doing. Many NGOs fall apart and don’t actually give back but JAM is delivering to the communities. People are tired of promises but now they will believe,” says Sizakele Mabasa, who monitors the JAM-supported child care centres in Lenasia and Chiawelo on a volunteer basis.
“I think Christmas came early for these children!” concludes Tshidiso Mokoena, Orange Farm supervisor for JAM SA. Judging by the pictures, it certainly did!
For more information about JAM SA’s programmes and how to get involved, please visit www.jamsa.co.za.