More than 20 vulnerable children with special needs now have the opportunity to reach their full potential in a new, bigger and better environment. On 20 January 2022 the brand new Good Hope Day Care Centre (GHDCC) was officially opened.
The centre is equipped with features that make the space conducive for learning and playing for children with special needs. The building has a bathroom with six toilets, four wash basins and one wheelchair-friendly toilet; a kitchenette; office space for the principal; diaper changing room; a one-on-one facilitation and rehab room; a large classroom and an outdoor synthetic grass play area.
The centre will accommodate learners with different levels of special needs, including children with cerebral palsy and severe intellectual challenges, high-functioning learners with learning challenges and autistic learners.
This is a dream come true for Xoliswa Mjezu, who opened GHDCC seven years ago, when she realised that there were no special needs centres in the whole of Mbekweni, a community with a population of 60,000 people, who could look after her autistic daughter.
Using the skills she acquired while volunteering at the Paarl Stimulation Centre and her Level 4 and Level 5 qualification in Early Childhood Development, Xoliswa has been effectively running the centre with passion and resourcefulness from her tiny government home, but the challenges have been debilitating. Because her house didn’t meet the structural requirements to apply for government grants and the parents struggled financially, she was dependent on her own fundraising.
“The children did not have enough space to develop properly – it was heartbreaking to see. I could only accommodate a few children, and had a long waiting list. Today, I am so happy that there is a proper building and structure in place to support more children, much better. We can only go forward from here,” explained Xoliswa.
The centre is built on the Hope Through Action Foundation grounds, next to the Mbekweni Community Sport Centre. This creates a safe community hub where the GHDCC, Nompumelelo Educare Centre and Mbekweni Sport Centre share resources like security, electricity and meals, a move that will save costs and create a culture of collaboration.
Work on building the new centre started in August 2021 after multiple stakeholders from the Cape Winelands came on board as partners in the project, either by donating funds, time, services or goods in kind. Breadline Africa was one of eight funders who raised a total of R1.1 million which includes R650,000 raised by Val de Vie Foundation.
Most of the service providers were so moved by Xoliswa’s story that they worked completely pro bono, or gave significantly reduced fees without earning any profit. Over R200,000 worth of service in kind and goods in kind donations were received.
“It is encouraging to see the collective effort in action. It was not just one person who funded this project, but multiple people who stepped up to help in their own way. Good Hope Day Care Centre has the potential to make a real impact in the lives of the children in Mbekweni and this new building is a step in the right direction,” says Ivan Swartz, CEO of Valcare.
All of the suppliers and service providers were sourced from the region, adding to the economic benefit for the locals.
Simon Makamba, the Community Liaison for the project, concluded: “We appreciate what has been done here and we are proud that we now have this space for our children. What makes it even more special is the fact that members of our community were involved in the building process, which makes this centre a true part of Mbekweni and our responsibility to protect it.”