Since its establishment in 1996, Ekwezi Educare Centre has been a pillar of hope in the Kalkfontein community, which has a long history of gang activity and violence. The centre strives to provide a safe and enjoyable learning space for young children to grow and develop. However, during the COVID-19 hard lockdown in 2020, the facilities at Ekwezi Educare Centre were vandalised.
The criminals caused extensive damage to the pre-school ceilings, electrical wiring, light fittings, plugs, plumbing pipes, and taps, making it impossible for Ekwezi to continue to function optimally. This had a knock-on effect resulting in a drop in the number of children attending which sent the school into a downward spiral.
But thanks to the generosity of donors Lynne Williams, Gerard Buckley, Paul Marsh, Stephen Browne, Annette Güth, Southey Contracting and Bird & Bird, the centre is a safe space for the children once more.
And it’s more than a pre-school – Ekwezi also offers a baby support programme (first 1,000 days); a learner support programme where they assist older children with school uniforms and special outfits for the matric ball; youth, women’s and senior citizens programmes; and victim support for survivors of crime. Without the generosity of these donors, the community would have lost so many support structures.
Ali Waggie, Breadline Africa Programme Manager explained: “When first saw the centre, the building was in a bad state. Due to its vulnerability during lockdown, the building was left gutted. This is not typically what we do, but the need was so great, we had to help. I am so happy to see that there are more children than before at today’s launch event and excited to know that more children will be re-joining their beloved pre-school.”
He added a special note of thanks to Raymando Lategan and his team for “making everything possible and for going the extra mile”.
Lee-Anne Stellenberg, representing the Association for Healing through Art, expressed her delight that the centre was restored. “Nelson Mandela said: Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great … You can be that generation, keep on blossoming. Thank you, Breadline Africa, for your help and thank you to the donors. You transformed this pre-school into a place of greatness.”
Siyanda Princess Mgodeli, the principal of Ekwezi, added her heartfelt gratitude: “Thank God for opening the way for Kalkfontein! I was the first student of this pre-school when it opened in 1996. Seeing the recent looting broke my heart and that’s why I had the courage to re-open and, with the help of Lee-Anne, making sure Ekwezi was not demolished. I would like to thank Breadline Africa and its generous donors. We are looking forward to offering quality education, even better than what we had before!”
We wish the children and their teachers many happy years in the refurbished Ekwezi Educare Centre.