J Section residents in Khayelitsha said they are confident that the new state-of-the-art building at Noluthando Day Care Centre in the area will change the lives of the young people living in the small community.
Noluthando, which cares for more than 265 children, was officially opened on Thursday September 1. The centre, which offers children meals, recreation and assistance with homework, has also gone green.
The centre’s new block, which comprises, a small utility hall, an administration block, and a starter kindergarten classroom was built with money raised by German donors.
The block that was built with material made by mixing cement with polystyrene, and an additive called Selcrete, is a first for the province.
Mavis Mbaba, who founded Noluthando 22 years ago when she opened her home to 45 children who needed to be cared for while their parents were at work, was excited by the improvements to her day care centre.
She said she she had not been able to register Grade Rs this year because she didn’t have adequate facilities, but the addition of the new block had changed that.
“They gave me golden keys. These are not just golden keys but sparkling keys. I am excited because now I will register Grade Rs,” she said. She thanked her 16 staff members who have been with her through good and bad times. She said had it not for them she maybe would have cut the number of children.
Ms Mbaba said a lot will now happen at the centre. “These new buildings mean everything to me, and they will change everything at Noluthando. From now on, the children can do activities in a safe environment, without the risk of fires. Fires are a risk when working in a wooden building. These new buildings don’t require as much maintenance as the wooden ones. Maintenance costs a lot of money,” she said.
Graeme Horwood, Selcrete’s chief executive officer, said he was happy that they had been able to help the centre. He admitted that it had not been easy, but was ultimately worth it.
Mr Horwood said one of the problems at the centre had been that it was housed in a timber structure which did not offer adequate protection against the summer heat, cold winters, and fires. He said the new block will be of great help to the young people. He said it had better protection against fires, to which the densely populated township is prone.
It also had better insulation than the wooden structure.
“Selcrete makes a building two to three times more insulated compared to structures made of bricks and mortar,” said Mr Horwood.
“It offers better protection against fires and fungus too. The product is therefore very suitable for South Africa’s cold and often wet winters and hot summers. Selcrete is inspired by techniques used in Norway, a country where the weather conditions are even more extreme. If it works there, it works everywhere. I am happy because this all about children. We are here because of them. Twelve new structures will be built in total,” he said.
Councillor Patrick Mngxunyeni praised the investors for their “outstanding” work in Khayelitsha.
Mr Mngxunyeni, however, lamented the break-ins at community facilities, including schools and clinics in the area and called on people to protect these resources.
“Ploughing back to the community of Khayeltsha is really an outstanding work. I was also impressed seeing officials from the fire department inspecting the facility.
“We have observed facilities collapsed by fire. I am glad safety has indeed been prioritised here,” he said.