Children and staff from four Samora Machel Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres lined the classes on a rainy Monday morning to cheer for the Santa Shoe Box Project.
The project collects and distributes gifts of essential items and treats for underprivileged children throughout South Africa and neighbouring countries.
They had donated reading corners to the area’s ECDs after it trained the staff on how to use it.
In their uniforms, the little ones clapped and chanted while their mentors and teachers ululated to celebrate the visit by the project, which came to Samora Machel to see the work is has done for the 25 pre-schools in the area.
The project’s ambassador, singer and storyteller, Zolani Mahola, was applauded and hugged as she walked side by side with the area’s community activist Mzikayise Nzuzo through the pre-school’s corridors to celebrate the day with them.
In all the ECDs, Ms Mahola sat down and tried another skill – that of teaching the little ones – and perfected it. During the interview she gave credit to the owners and all those who work with children at the development phase. “We should honour women who work with kids. The work they do with children should be applauded. They have a passion for it. They are developing children and we all know that children are the future. These are heroines and heroes. It is a good thing to develop children at an early age,” she said.
The ambassador also has also commended the community for being able to build creches and protect them. “This community has done a good job. We also need to commend them for being there for these kids and the teaching staff,” she said.
But the day was about the educares and they were happy to see the donors.
Masikhulisane day and aftercare principal Miriam Siphondo thanked the donors for training them and providing them with a book corner.
“Our kids are now able to touch the books, read and see the pictures inside. They now can relate to whatever we are teaching them. What the project also did for us was to train and teach how to do our work and trained us on bullying,” she told Vukani.
Principal of Christian Centre, Ntommbizodwa Mela, echoed the same sentiments and said it was nice to have books because they never had them.
“The feeling of touching the books by children is amazing. You can see their smiles and excitement when they have books because they can point out pictures and read them now,” she said.
According to Santa Shoe Box Project chief executive officer, Debbie Zelezniak, the project is supported by an extensive network of volunteers across South Africa and Namibia.
She described them as kind-hearted people who give freely of their time, energy and expertise without remuneration.
She added that the project also relies on the generous backing of various corporate sponsors pledging monetary or pro bono support.
“It is our first time that we put libraries with our patron Zolani. We are going to train teachers in the next six weeks in other areas of skills. We are hoping to grow our relationship with Samora Machel,” she said.
Samantha Massey, the Santa Shoebox Legacy Projects manager, said their work is not only about the children but also about the community. “We are also about the community upliftment. Based on the success, we do a lot to uplift the communities,” said Ms Massey.
The community activist who brought the project to Samora, Mr Nzuzo said the best is yet to come to the area through the project.. He said there is training that is planned for all the educares and thanked the project for caring about the community.