“The City of Johannesburg really appreciates your hard work; continue making a difference in Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs). MamaBlantina, never ever underestimate yourself! It takes strength to run an ECD,” said Ms. Nomsa Madibogo from the City of Johannesburg municipal office at the hand over celebration of the Thusanang Community Creche on 1 August 2014.
Thusanang Community Crèche was first established by Mama Blantina Ledwaba in 1996, in Diepsloot section one. She explained that she was the first to open an ECD centre in section one and it was very popular. In 1999, due to housing issues she had to move to Extension 4. In 2000, she re-opened Thusanang Community Crèche, but re-establishing it was proving difficult as she struggled to attract students and opened with just 9.
However, her centre grew slowly, and in 2013 she began to receive help from Joint Aid Management South Africa (JAM SA). Through JAM SA’s Nutritional Feeding programme, Mama Blantina could ensure that the children enrolled at her centre received a nutritious porridge breakfast. In 2014, more good news arrived when her ECD centre was selected to receive an ‘Extreme’ makeover by a JAM Germany team. The team of volunteers arrived in South Africa on July 27 2014 and began work at Thusanang the following day.
The JAM Germany team consisted of 17 enthusiastic volunteers from Stuttgart, Germany, led by Sandra Heubach, who began fundraising for this makeover in 2013,“The team was amazing, even though they were young they worked really hard. Day by day you could see them opening up to the children and growing closer as a team,” commented Sandra.
With the completion of the makeover, Thusanang now has a new kitchen, ablution facilities and three new classrooms kitted out with educational toys to ensure learning is fun.
Kinga, one of the volunteers remarked that, “I feel good because I worked from the heart. It wasn’t just about working, but also making the children happy.”Jan, another one of the volunteers, considered the Thusanang makeover an extra special occasion as the trip was his 18th birthday gift from his aunt Sandra Heubach and shared the following, “I will forever carry the memories of this makeover. Whenever, I felt tired, I thought of the children and that motivated me to work harder.”
At the handover celebration, the children were treated to a party! Community members were thrilled at the transformation of Thusanang. Lizzy Moyo whose four year old granddaughter, Thato attends the ECD said, “The crèche looks really good and now it will grow. The crèche was struggling before and now with all the educational toys the children will be prepared for school.”
Mama Blantina presented JAM SA and JAM Germany with big brightly coloured cards, decorated by the children. She was very happy that Thusanang Community Crèche has been restored and thanked the parents for their support during her struggles. “I’m so happy with the makeover, my German Angels have done a good job. I’m very happy. They are welcome to come back over the years and see their work and how I will progress. I promise that when they return I will have improved!” declared Mama Blantina.