Nomzamo Kholisa wept silently last week as she inspected the charred remains of the crèche she ran for more than 50 children in Khayelitsha.
Ms Kholisa, 66, said she had used her pension money, along with some donations from her community, to convert her home into a crèche, but shortly before 1pm on Friday last week, a fire gutted the five-room double-storey building and also destroyed a shack at the back.
By the time Vukani arrived on the scene, residents had extinguished the blaze and were clearing debris.
According to Ms Kholisa, she quickly alerted the other crèche staff after noticing smoke and flames in one of the rooms.
She ran outside and called for help while the teachers woke the children, who had been napping, and got them to safety.
While 52 children attend the crèche, there were only 42 there on the day of the fire.
Ms Kholisa said she didn’t know what had caused the fire but was glad no one had been hurt.
“I started the crèche in 2018 and it has not been an easy journey,” she said.
“I’m appealing to anyone that can assist me in rebuilding the crèche to do so. I used my pension money to build my crèche. I’m currently squatting at my neighbours because I have no place to stay. I could not salvage anything, and I need any help I can get. I’m currently using someone else’s garage to look after the children.”
Ms Kholisa said she had spent many years raising the money to open the crèche, and now, in the blink of an eye, it was gone.
She said she could no longer sleep at night and her health had taken a knock.
If she could not get donors to help her rebuild she would have to close the crèche, she said.
She said she had not yet registered the crèche as she wanted to meet all the requirements before doing so.