The Mmelisizwe Makeover!
This week Knit-A-Square South Africa was thrilled to be able to facilitate the makeover of the Mmelisizwe Day Care Centre in Nancefield. This was made possible by generous funding received from 28 members of the United States KAS Forum as well as 6 contributions from KAS forum members from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
This amazing project took off after we posted photos of our visit to this Day Care Centre in Nancefield on a bitter winter’s day earlier this year. The more than 80 children are cared for in what used to be a boxing gymnasium and although a wonderfully secured environment, it was stark to say the least ... and freezing cold!!
In order to raise sufficient funds to buy some furniture, play equipment and other items to cheer the place up, Helen Flagg from Houston, Texas, co-ordinated a fundraising effort via the KAS forum. Well, what a success this was. Between Helen and Mary Anne Fellows, who assisted with the collecting of funds, they received a whopping $1700US which was transferred to South Africa via the SA Paypal route … and the Mmelisizwe makeover began!
We had priced various items in South Africa and ended up choosing items from a store called Westpack where the prices were great AND they were willing to deliver all the items we purchased as well as giving us a nice discount – which meant more for the children!
On Friday, 15 November Lesley, Wendy and I went shopping!
We then met bright and early on Tuesday, 19 November and headed to Soweto to surprise Lindiwe, who knew we were coming to bring her “a few” goodies … but was she in for a surprise! We were joined by three of our American volunteers in South Africa – Lesley, Donna and Annette - and quickly unpacked all the treasure while the children were in a classroom to one side.
We set up the many items we had purchased and then children were brought out of the classroom. They sang a beautiful thank you song to us, but it was plain to see they were gazing around at all the new equipment, just bursting to try everything out. When Lindiwe finally gave them the go ahead to “play”, it became chaotic!! The children have never seen so many toys and exciting new items to play with before. The push bikes were a huge hit most of them headed in that direction first off, though it was not long before they scattered about and tried out, with obvious curiosity and enjoyment, all the various items we had brought for them.
Just look at the excitement on their faces!
The little girls loved the store trolleys filled with groceries and posed beautifully for us.
We had many "architects in training" on the mat with the wooden blocks.
Our volunteers took time to read to the children from the pile of books we bought.
We also showed the children how to build puzzles – some of the children had clearly never seen one before, but it did not take long for them to work it out.
The hula hoops were a challenge and we decided to teach by example - mmmmm, not too sure how successful that was!
The see-saws will entertain the children for hours
As always, soccer is huge in South Africa and with the enormous space they have in the gymnasium, there were soccer matches taking place wherever one looked!!
The sand and water tables proved to be a big hit. We only filled them with sand for now because playing with the water is more suitable for outdoors. This is an amazing and all important tactile activity for the children, many of whom will never get to see the sea, let alone play on a real beach.
Every single child now has a chair to sit on and a table to sit at, but best of all is that the whole gymnasium has become a permanent riot of colour.
We were also able to purchase a number of educational charts to brighten up the walls and to assist the teachers with their lessons. A filing unit will be used to store the various teaching aides.
Poor Lindiwe, who heads up this facility, was literally in tears with the gratitude she felt. She was able to thank KAS and the wonderful contributors through the “I just have no words…” she kept repeating.
This was such an important occasion that the local Indunas (leaders) of the community attended the handover and in the traditional African way, we were asked to sit in a circle while a few of the gentlemen expressed their thanks. They too were overwhelmed by this generous contribution.
To all those who so generously contributed to this makeover, a very BIG thank you! We were able to truly transform this gymnasium into an inviting and educational facility for the children. Not only were we able to buy all the items I have mentioned above, but we also donated a large amount of non-perishable foods which will help Lindiwe feed the children.