Driving to and from its offices in Nooitgedacht near Muldersdrift, the staff of EE Publishers have in recent days been amazed and impressed with the surprisingly fast development of a new crèche springing up virtually on its doorstep.
EE Publishers regularly reports on the skills shortages in South Africa, and we understand that the problem often starts at the foundation phases. The new crèche is therefore a beacon of hope for the surrounding disadvantaged community and for further education, and presents a great new platform to shape the engineers of tomorrow.
EE Publishers therefore despatched one of its journalists to peek into the big red circus tent that shot up overnight, and speak to wheel-barrow-pushing youngsters around it, to find out more about this project.
Marrie Bijl-de Goede, a teacher and a founding member of the Lumahelpt Foundation which manages the project, kindly gave us a site tour and sat down to explain the project to us.
The crèche, to be named Ikusasa (the IsiZulu word for future), will absorb 40 children from the Sechaba preschool only a few hundred metres away. The preschool will be repurposed for other community enrichment projects, most likely an adult-training facility.
The project, which has sprung up in a matter of two weeks, is the culmination of a yearlong planning process that started with the acquisition of the 1,5 ha land on the corner of Sunset Drive and Elandsdrift Road, in Nooitgedacht, Gauteng.
So far one of two classrooms (each with a capacity of 45 children), a kitchen building, and an office building have been erected. One of two solar units (each with its own battery container) has also been installed, and is used to power the borehole pump. When the second classroom is completed the crèche will be able to accommodate 90 children.
A collaboration between the Netherlands-based Lumahelpt Foundation and the NG Muldersdrift church’s Ikusasa Foundation, Lumahelpt has generously donated R1,5-million of the approximately R1,95-million spent on the project.
The Lumahelpt foundation will also employ two teachers and two assistants to run the new crèche, but hopes that as with some of its previous crèche projects outside Kroonstad, it will qualify for government subsidies to make it sustainable.
The project aims to be as self-sustaining as possible. For this reason they use solar energy and borehole water, as well as a French drain system (which allows sewage water to be recycled for gardening uses).
To this end 75 trees, 35 of which will be fruit trees, will also be planted, and a vegetable garden is also in progress. The trees have been donated by sponsors in the Netherlands, and will bear the nameplates of their sponsors.
To help with the construction of the project, 19 volunteers from the Netherlands flew to South Africa at their own cost, as all the money from the foundation went to the project infrastructure costs. These volunteers do anything from constructing and painting jungle gyms to planting trees to sewing curtains for the classrooms, all while gaining a perfect golden tan from the African sun.
The project’s official launch will be held on Saturday at 18 October 2014, and EE Publishers hopes to be there, and provide support to this most worthy cause.
We take our hats off to those who have the vision and the energy to involve themselves in the development of local communities!