At least three members of the Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club are coming to the aid of a young African school teacher, who almost single-handedly constructed a small pre-school facility herself for children under five to prepare them for their future education.
The Sunrise members are making the donation privately out of their own pockets and are hoping in the future the club will take on the Nkukuleku Creche pre-school as a regular Rotary International project which will be able to raise money on a larger scale for the tiny brick school located in the Kwa-Zulu region of Natal.
As it is, Sunrise members will send than US$1,250 this week to the Rotary Club of Mtunzini, South Africa where Sunrise is involved in a Rotary ESTEAM Global Grant education project. The Mtunzini club is located just across the border from the school which is located in one of the most poverty-stricken regions in Africa.
“What wonderful news,” says Mtunzini Rotary Club Past President Gideon van der Merwe, “We are going out there to take her blankets. Five each per family. We’re also taking out toys and educational games,” he says. “Your help is so much appreciated and this contribution of money will all be applied to change these kids’ lives.”
The Rotary Club of Cranbrook Sunrise first heard about the Nkukuleku Creche through van der Merwe, who is the club’s connection for the project located in an isolated rural area with few services or supports. Van der Merwe says when he became aware of what the young teacher was doing with so little help he determined to do all he could do to help her. “Our goal is purely humanitarian. We want to make it a better place than what it presently is. We don’t strive for perfection. If we can make a 10% difference in those children’s lives it will mean so much.
The teacher, Bachazile Mgwaba, has the credentials to teach early education classes of up to 15 children. She was teaching at another state-supported school in the Nkukuleku District when she decided to start a small pre-school of her own using her own limited savings and resources. “She realised there was a desperate need for a crèche amongst the poverty- stricken people,” van der Merwe says. “She has no spare money and that’s the reason why we are helping her.
The bare-bones, brick school has no running water or indoor toilet facilities. The floor is cement, but Bachazile has managed to cover the concrete with mats and rugs giving it a homey appearance. The roof is corrugated tin and in the searing African summer temperatures can climb to more than 40 C, Unadorned windows provide light and the walls are covered with drawings and early printing attempts by the eager and often unnourished children. Their playground area is covered with large, old tires for the kids to play with and there’s a crude swing. Many of the children live close to the “bread line,” the African term for going to bed hungry at night and Bachizle does the best she can with aid from the Nkukuleku School District in the form of a porridge made from maize which is eaten with vegetables.
“They are just normal, poor, rural kids,” says van der Merwe. “During (the Covid-19) lockdown they missed important meals which Bachazile provided like porridge which she had cooked at home because she was not allowed to cook any meals at school because there’s no kitchenette.” But a kitchenette could happen in the future if enough donations are received and Bachizle is able to hire some local laborers to build it.
In the meantime, the little school on the veld is doing the best it can to survive in harsh conditions that are happening virtually world-wide. But one big thing the school has going for it is a teacher like Bachazile, van der Merwe says.
“I’ve got to know her very well and we need many more women like her. She’s a compassionate person and she loves children.”
Anyone wanting to support this small but vital pre-school, can do so through the Rotary Club of Cranbrook Sunrise by sending an E-transfer to:
Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary
Please mark that it is for Nkukuleku Creche school project.
Submitted by Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club