This week Knit-A-Square South Africa was thrilled to be able to facilitate the makeover of the Mmelisizwe Day Care Centre in Nancefield. This was made possible by generous funding received from 28 members of the United States KAS Forum as well as 6 contributions from KAS forum members from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
This amazing project took off after we posted photos of our visit to this Day Care Centre in Nancefield on a bitter winter’s day earlier this year. The more than 80 children are cared for in what used to be a boxing gymnasium and although a wonderfully secured environment, it was stark to say the least ... and freezing cold!!
In order to raise sufficient funds to buy some furniture, play equipment and other items to cheer the place up, Helen Flagg from Houston, Texas, co-ordinated a fundraising effort via the KAS forum. Well, what a success this was. Between Helen and Mary Anne Fellows, who assisted with the collecting of funds, they received a whopping $1700US which was transferred to South Africa via the SA Paypal route … and the Mmelisizwe makeover began!
We had priced various items in South Africa and ended up choosing items from a store called Westpack where the prices were great AND they were willing to deliver all the items we purchased as well as giving us a nice discount – which meant more for the children!
On Friday, 15 November Lesley, Wendy and I went shopping!
We then met bright and early on Tuesday, 19 November and headed to Soweto to surprise Lindiwe, who knew we were coming to bring her “a few” goodies … but was she in for a surprise! We were joined by three of our American volunteers in South Africa – Lesley, Donna and Annette - and quickly unpacked all the treasure while the children were in a classroom to one side.
We set up the many items we had purchased and then children were brought out of the classroom. They sang a beautiful thank you song to us, but it was plain to see they were gazing around at all the new equipment, just bursting to try everything out. When Lindiwe finally gave them the go ahead to “play”, it became chaotic!! The children have never seen so many toys and exciting new items to play with before. The push bikes were a huge hit most of them headed in that direction first off, though it was not long before they scattered about and tried out, with obvious curiosity and enjoyment, all the various items we had brought for them.
Just look at the excitement on their faces!
The little girls loved the store trolleys filled with groceries and posed beautifully for us.
We had many "architects in training" on the mat with the wooden blocks.
Our volunteers took time to read to the children from the pile of books we bought.
We also showed the children how to build puzzles – some of the children had clearly never seen one before, but it did not take long for them to work it out.
The hula hoops were a challenge and we decided to teach by example - mmmmm, not too sure how successful that was!
The see-saws will entertain the children for hours
As always, soccer is huge in South Africa and with the enormous space they have in the gymnasium, there were soccer matches taking place wherever one looked!!
The sand and water tables proved to be a big hit. We only filled them with sand for now because playing with the water is more suitable for outdoors. This is an amazing and all important tactile activity for the children, many of whom will never get to see the sea, let alone play on a real beach.
Every single child now has a chair to sit on and a table to sit at, but best of all is that the whole gymnasium has become a permanent riot of colour.
We were also able to purchase a number of educational charts to brighten up the walls and to assist the teachers with their lessons. A filing unit will be used to store the various teaching aides.
Poor Lindiwe, who heads up this facility, was literally in tears with the gratitude she felt. She was able to thank KAS and the wonderful contributors through the “I just have no words…” she kept repeating.
This was such an important occasion that the local Indunas (leaders) of the community attended the handover and in the traditional African way, we were asked to sit in a circle while a few of the gentlemen expressed their thanks. They too were overwhelmed by this generous contribution.
To all those who so generously contributed to this makeover, a very BIG thank you! We were able to truly transform this gymnasium into an inviting and educational facility for the children. Not only were we able to buy all the items I have mentioned above, but we also donated a large amount of non-perishable foods which will help Lindiwe feed the children.
Oh Ronda, what a thrill to read your report and see these awesome photos... and what a priviledge to be a part of this amazing transformation.
I think most of us have had a heartache since you first posted photos of this facility when it was in its barren state. I can hardly believe that you were able to buy so much with the $$ you had available. The team made wonderful shopping choices and I feel all 'warm and fuzzy' knowing that these children will now have nice place to spend their days.
Thank you to your team for facilitating this, and even more to Helen Flagg for the original inspiration to change 80+ lives and Mary Anne Fellows for asisting with the fund collection.
I can't help wondering how the children will remember this day when they grow up - probably as a bit of magic and a lot of love from people they will never know.
Well done everyone involved, from the USA Group lead donation, with some assistance from members around the globe - by taking direct action you have truly enhanced not only the lives of these children, but the next generation who arrive for schooling.
Ronda, Wendy and Lesley - chose well!
Awesome choices for the children! Can't get enough of those happy faces :-)!
Wonderful - just wonderful! I too am amazed that it was possible to buy so much and what great choices.
Dropped back in for another look at these wonderful photos and had a giggle - Can you just imagine the shock the moms or caregivers got at the end of the day when they dropped in to pick the kids up?
Speechless with tears running down my face. This is what life is all about. Thank you so very much to all involved!
I'm with Laurie 100%. Happy Tears! If I had to say this instead of type it, I couldn't. Guys, we made a difference! We made a DIFFERENCE. Wow....this is like the best thing ever. I am so so happy about this---thrilled, delighted and uplifted.
THANK YOU everyone who has helped to bring this about, on KAS and in South Africa.
You have seriously made my day and probably my week, maybe even my month. (sighs happily)
You realize of course now I'm going to be looking for the next one to help? ah well...for the moment I shall just enjoy enjoy enjoy....
Clicking on the pictures enlarges them, ladies, so you can see them easier.
Thank you, thank you to Ronda and the team for all the work shopping and installing. You did indeed choose well, and my heart is very full to see the photos of the children enjoying it all. I echo Anne's comment that we all had a heartache when we saw the drabness and lack in the early photos and now to see such joy and the cheeriness in the gym gives me such delight. It never ceases to amaze me what can be accomplished via the Internet plus caring hearts. Thank you to all who contributed. I will certainly pour over the photos again and again with so much pleasure. I am elated that you were given a discount by the toy store and were able to buy additional toys and to provide non-perishable food for Lindiwe for the children. I had not expected that would be possible from our collection. The transformation is indeed a "riot of color," and I hope it will serve many, many children in the days to come. Thank you again to all the SA team. Well done!!!!
Helen, I reiterate your words. We owe a big thank you to you, Helen, for without your initiative and perseverance, this fundraising wouldn't have happened.
You are all so sweet and enthusiastic ... what a pity you cannot be here to witness these wonderful happenings in person ?! Our much loved handful of US volunteers here in SA did also generously contribute, of course. We LOVE Americans !!!
And again, we thank each and every one in the US Forum group who contributed, and Helen and Mary Anne for their hard work in co-ordinating the donations and then being pretty much first in line to use the new SA Paypal facility !!
It's been a win-win situation all round and it was a morning of joy (with tears !!) and smiles and satisfaction ... so we once more thank YOU, our amazing friends all around the world, for your help, your ideas, your love, your prayers and your generous contributions of all kinds xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
Tears of happiness are streaming down my face. So glad to have made their lives so much happier :*)
What wonderful expressions of joy on the faces of the children and adults ! The educational opportunities for these children have definitely multiplied tenfold. This gift will provide much needed mental and physical stimulation for the children for years to come.
Thank you to everyone involved !