More than 50 children from Ikusasalethu Educare, in Mfuleni, received an educational boost on Friday January 27, when their new facility was opened.
The make-over was spearheaded by Starting Chance, a non-profit organisation focused on giving children in early childhood development a flying start to their educational journey.
The NPO provided Ikusasalethu with new facilities, including a multi-purpose hall, four classrooms and an outdoor area for sand and water play. The facility had been run from a family’s RDP house. At the opening ceremony, both the owner and the parents said they were elated that a new building in Mfuleni had opened its doors for their children.
Founder Princess Mapatalala said it was a dream come true and paid tribute to her husband, Eric, for allowing her to convert their home into an educare. She said her husband understood her passion and allowed her to change the house to what it is today.
“He knows my passion is children. We sat down and discussed the issue, and he allowed me to use it as an educare. He knows I love children. I wanted to see children in a safe and comfortable space. This is what they will get now. My dream has finally come true,” she said.
Mr Mapatalala said he was equally happy for his wife. He said he had no choice, but to allow her to help children. “She loves what she does. When she approached me about it we came to an agreement. I am happy for her,” he said.
Starting Chance founder Ian Corbett said by helping women to register for subsidies from the Department of Social Development, they helped to make their businesses more sustainable while improving the quality of the learning. He said the project talked to other female entrepreneurs in the area.
“Our experience on this project has shown that educares like Ikusasalethu are ideal in extending the benefit of our investment into the community.
“Partnering with local builders and tradesmen means we can support and empower local businesses as part of our procurement strategy.
“This is the best we ever made. It was fantastic working here. I have to say it has been an absolute pleasure working with local people.”
Mr Corbett said they assisted because many female entrepreneurs in the educare sector struggled and often faced the threat of closure due to costs and stringent registration requirements.
“In the current economic climate, unemployed parents are struggling to pay school fees. As a result, principals of smaller educares like this battle to generate enough income to pay and retain their hard working staff and invest in upgrading their facilities.”
Margaret Fraser, a trustee of the HomeChoice Development Trust, a Starting Chance sponsor, said it was an honour to hand over a centre to its owners.
Referring to Ms Mapatalala she said; “You are devoted to what you are doing.
It is a pleasure to support you. We hope that more principals like Ikusasalethu’s will be able to say ‘It’s a dream come true’ in 2017,” she said.
Starting Chance is now finalising plans for more shack-to-chic upgrades, including a state of the art special needs facility for 40 children, in Mfuleni.
They also plan to expand Ikusasalethu to include Grade R and hope to get a donation for the transport.