Ndileka Kamte, owner of Sithembele Kuwe Educare Centre, in Lower Crossroads, could not hide her emotions when Breadline Africa donated a shipping container with six built-in flushing toilets, on Friday November 18, to commemorate the World International Toilet Day which was marked on Saturday November 19.
The non-governmental organisation said it felt compelled to extend a helping hand and to raise awareness, while tackling the global sanitation crisis.
Breadline Africa strives to provide essential infrastructure in the form of shipping containers that have been refurbished into classrooms, kitchens, libraries and toilet blocks.
By donating the containers and other essential material to different community-based organisations, they aim to uplift them and break the cycle of poverty.
They said they believe that a good early childhood education gave children a chance at a brighter future.
Sinethembele Kuwe, which caters for 45 children under the age of five, has been battling to get flushing toilets, and have been having problems with their two existing toilets.
An ecstatic Ms Kamte thanked the organisation, saying she felt that a heavy burden had been lifted off her shoulders.
She said they battled with many challenges and there were times where she wanted to stop operating the centre.
However, she said, because she was passionate about developing children from the young age, she opted to soldier on.
When she started the centre a decade ago, she said she rented a space, but she could not cope with the monthly rentals. However, she was not deterred and opted to convert her tiny RDP house into a centre. But the numbers of pupils continued to increase, forcing her to build a shack behind the house. She has now run out of space to accommodate more children. She challenged government and business people to extend a helping hand, saying educare centres played a critical role in communities. Ms Kamte highlighted the lack of a proper kitchen and playing space for the children as some of the main challenges. “I’m grateful to the organisation for what they have done for me. The issue of hygiene has been addressed, and the dignity of these young ones has been restored,” she said.
“As teachers we were more worried about their health more than teaching, but now we will focus more on teaching.”
Programme manager at Breadline Africa, Puleng Phooko, said they believed education was key to a better future. She said since 1993, they have recycled, refurbished and placed more than 130 of these containers in poor communities throughout Southern Africa.
Ms Phooko said most pre-schools and creches in poor townships needed more to develop and achieve their full potential.
“Access to proper toilet facilities makes a huge difference for children, diseases are minimised and they have the opportunity to learn about the importance of good hygiene practices. The centre is a home-away-from-home. A flushing toilet is something we may take for granted, but in communities like Lower Crossroads the opportunity to make use of a clean, private ablution facility is a privilege afforded to a few . We are also going to demolish the shack and build a brick kitchen,” she said.