One of the projects we support at Lindelani, is the crèche and baby centre just outside this informal settlement. It started about 7 years ago as a baby centre looking after 12 babies, and has now grown to a crèche for 85 babies and children aged up to 5 years old.
The service is sponsored by the local community, a local church, and a few small donors like us. Parents are asked to contribute and pay depending on their circumstances. To give you an example, children from the informal settlement (the political correct term for squatter camp or shanty town) where parents are unemployed, pay R50 (£2.50) per month (topped up by a government grant), and other children who come from families where the parents are working are asked to pay R300 (£15) per month. This might not sound like much if you’re from a first world country, but to those parents, it is only just affordable.
At first, the service was free, but unfortunately it meant it wasn’t appreciated and no-one took it seriously. Now that parents pay, they really do appreciate it – and one can see why. This is what their monthly contribution buys:
- Babies and toddlers up to 3 year olds are fed at crèche. Parents send along food, but milk and nappies are supplied. The 4 & 5 year olds are supplied breakfast and lunch, which ensures that these children get at least 2 meals per day.
The facilities are quite basic, but adequate. Where possible they have built using cheap local and rural methods, with the balance being park a few mobile homes, which can easily be moved by lorry. The reason for not putting down roots, is due to the fact that they’ve been unable to secure land of their own. Their current location is great, as it is right outside Lindelani, and has good transport connections for the local community and is close to local schools. But the original owner who had leased the land to them at a token R200 (£10) per month, recently sold it and the now owner has put the rent up by more than 700% to R3,500 (£175) per month. Of course this is a major additional unplanned new expense. Let’s put it into perspective, this would pay the salaries of 1.5 to 2 of their teaching assistants!
A typical day
Children are dropped off by parents on their way to work, older siblings on their way to school or grandparents from Lindelani walk over to drop them off, and they all arrive between 7.30 am and 8.00 am. The day starts with a breakfast routine, followed by structured and unstructured play. The highlight is when volunteers from the local community come in for a half an hour per day for ball skills, drama, art, music and movement.
Most of the formal teaching, including literacy and numeracy is delivered in their mother tongue, Zulu, however the volunteers and crèche project manager, Lauren Porée, has introduced English to them booth formally and informally.
They have a dedicated ‘sleeping room’ where they all have a nap before lunch. Their day finishes at 1.30 pm, which coincides with the time kids in local primary schools come out. This enables older siblings to pick them up on their way home from school where they are cared for at home until parents get back.
Initially, one of the reasons the crèche was established, was to free older siblings up to go to school, because they were looking after the little ones at home while parents were out. It is still not ideal, and there aren’t any plans to expand the service after-school care, but at least 85 kids are better off than they otherwise would have been.
About the people
The project is managed daily by Lauren Porée, a teacher who has taught at a number of schools in her hometown of Greytown. She also provides structured English lessons, as well as coordinating bigger donation spend.
There are now 7 other staff, all local ladies. They are Thembi, Prisca, Princess, Pume, Bongi, Thobile & Veronica. They just love these kids – but don’t be fooled, discipline is maintained! I once arrived at nap-time and initially thought the kids had already left for the day – everything was so quiet! But it was just that the teachers were able to settle the kids so well.
One of the carers, Princess, also provides a community-based service to Lindelani residents. She calls on people within the community, helps people access medical services and medication, liaises with social services and helps where she can. This is a crucial service as many of the people from Lindelani are unable to access the care they need as they are too old or too frail.
Current needs & future challenges
Funding is always going to be the biggest challenge. School fees cover only a fraction of what it costs to run the Philani Creche outside Lindelani, Greytown, South Africa. They are therefore reliant on local and foreign donations – especially for projects. The current biggest needs are as follows:
- Buying the land. Land rent increased 700% in the past year when the land changed ownership. We would love to help fund the purchase of the land. This will provide security for the creche and will allow them to develop the site further. Last time this land changed hands, it cost around R100,000 (£5,0000). Asking price is R165,000 (£8,250). Add legal fees, duties etc, and it adds up to around R200,000 (£10,000)
- Electricity. The site has no electricity and the cost to have electricity installed is a relatively big one. But in a way it is linked to buying the land. Spending a huge amount of money on installing electricity if the site isn’t permanent is risky. We’re waiting for the final quote to be forwarded on, but the last quote was for around R14,000 (£700).
Could you help? Donating to this project will help not only the children attending now, but will change the lives of children who have a very difficult start to life. Please help us and donate today – no donation is too small.