“Who can see into the future?” was a befitting rhetorical question which JAM SA’s MD David Brown posed to the community of Vlakfontein that attended the Good Hope Early Learning centre hand-over ceremony.
Memorialised on top of one of the prefabricated classrooms, a warm image of the late Tracy June Cox looks benevolently down onto the children wearing their stylish Team Red Bowl sunglasses.
The Susie Simon group or affectionately known as the Red Bowl Angels together with the Cox Family carried out a makeover at Good Hope Early Learning Centre and found the whole experience a blessing and life changing. The USA (Susie Simon group) and Canada (Cox family) teams pulled their resources together to change the lives of the little children of Vlaktontein. The teams had a great sense of expectancy; to touch lives through the project, for the project to succeed, for their lives to be changed and to invoke change in the community of Vlakfontein.
The makeover took place over the week of May 12, and as one Red Bowl Angel said, “working on the project everyday was tiring, but a lot of fun and fulfilling at the same time”.
Mam’ Ida Sithebe of Vlakfontein opened the doors of Good Hope Early Learning Centre back in 2000 with the hope of providing a service to her community. The owner of the centre Mam’Sithebe, with a big heart but little funding, did what she could for the children attending her learning centre. When asked how she felt, she said that she was overwhelmed but stated, “umehluko mkhulu…Sonke les’khathi I didn’t believe ukuthi this is happening. I’JAM ingijabulisile” [there is a remarkable difference; all along I didn’t believe that this was happening. JAM has made me very happy].
Mam’Sithebe presented the Susie Simon team, JAM SA team and the Cox family with South African flags made-up of the children’s painted hand prints. The Cox family was evidently touched and moved by the whole ceremony and they felt that some healing had been done, “something positive has happened from something painful” said Heather Cox. Soon after the tragic passing of Tracy, the Cox family asked God what they should plant over the loss.
Heather’s eyes were initially drawn to the JAM money tin, and weeks later in the mail the satchel which Tracy was carrying on the day of the accident came through. In and amongst her things was Peter Pretorius’s business card, and Heather believes that was the concluding sign from God. Seeing the makeover complete Garry and Heather Cox said they were “stunned and in awe” as this was beyond what they had imagined.
The children’s parents were pleased that their children would now have a beautiful and safe environment to learn, and as one parent said, “we’re happy with the work done for the children and the community. Thank you for making this place beautiful. You’re making hope”.
Luke Wagner speaking on behalf of the makeover team said the group worked hard to raise money on campus through sports events and other activities. Bernie, JAM SA’s Makeover Supervisor thanked the teams and said, “These children are the future, they will grow-up to be doctors, lawyers and this goodwill will radiate”.
The handover ceremony was a beautiful sea of smiles. Mam’Sithebe in a genuine smile said, ‘umehluko mkhulu!’ [The difference is huge!].