Special care centre looking to expand

Each one teach one. Volunteers and children hard at work.

For some parents, dealing with children with birth defects can be incredibly challenging.

Thankfully there are people like Tandeka Mfila who started the Lonwabo Special Care Centre at her home in Mfuleni in 2008, when she saw the need to care for children with special needs in her community.

Even though she knew little about home-based care or caring for children with disabilities – and didn’t have the space to house a care facility, she really wanted to do something to make a difference.

Around that time she had heard a woman on the radio who had called in, asking that the women of Mfuleni do something to help disabled children in the area.

So, she made a few calls and made contact with the caller who insisted Ms Mfila open a creche.

She now runs a facility from her home and garage, that accommodates 33 children from Mfuleni, Happy Valley, Driftsands, Westbank and Khayelitsha.

“At first I didn’t know what I was doing and had to go for training in Maitland. There is no place that caters for children with disabilities in Mfuleni and yet Mfuleni is big and growing. I have noticed that the development of children is delayed. But I was lucky because a physiotherapist used to visit me now and then to help and show me some of the things. The Western Cape Forum for the Disabled was of great help,” she told Vukani.

Some of the challenges she faced, however, were a lack of space and transportation for the children – as well as what she described as “uncaring” parents.

“We are in a house but this is not enough space for these children and the programme that we have. We would love to have our own space. We have been trying to land a place. But the issue of land is a problem. There was a donor who was prepared to build us a home but because of lack of land that did not happen. That is just one of our challenges,” she said.

The centre is running quite smoothly and they even have computer skills programmes for the disabled, Ms Mfila said. “Our influence is big. Some of the children come here with nothing to show but we teach them all sorts of skills. We then refer them to schools, those who can”.

To the parents of the children with disabilities, she put out a heartfelt plea that they don’t drop their children at the facility and never look back.

“Some come and leave them here and never even make a call to find how their children are doing. Most learn here and never again at home. They need to teach them at home too. We also have parents not paying school fees. It is bad,” she said.

“But if we can have land from our government, we will rejoice.”

Meanwhile local leader Malibongwe Yisa commended the work done at the centre and promised to contact the City of Cape Town for assistance. He said the work by Ms Mfila should not go unnoticed.