We received the design drawings for the Sunbeam creche today and to be honest, I have butterflies of happiness dancing around in my stomach!

Knowing you are working towards something and then actually physically seeing it are two entirely different things!

From a Wendy house to accommodate a few extra children, we now have a fully fledged Early Centre for Development (ECD) that is 100% compliant with the Department of Social Development. It will be the first properly complaint ECD of its kind in the Westlake Informal settlement – a wonderful milestone and the first of many we hope to build for the precious, young children of Westlake.

My heart ached the very first time I visited one of the creches in Westlake. I went home feeling sad, depressed and overwhelmed at the magnitude of the hardship these little children have to endure. Long hours of sitting on a cold, hard floor, no toys, no books, nothing to comfort these children. I felt heart-broken!

Fast forward one month later and I was asked to join the board of the Orphan Care Foundation and to invite 3 or 4 new members to join us.

During our new board member induction, our team was introduced to Shanel Matambo who owns the Sunbeam creche together with her mom Priscrlla Matambo and her younger sister Mariska. Her creche, although seriously lacking in any facilities is spotless and the children in her care are magnificently cared for and happy!

When we were told Sunbeam is facing closure, we knew that there was no way we could let that happen to the precious children at Sunbeam and their amazing carers, Priscilla, Shanel and Mariska!

Sunbeam creche in Westlake

Sunbeam creche – ready for transformation

Our team set to work with fund-raising campaigns, we contacted the press to spread Sunbeam creche’s plight and two weeks later we have raised almost R90000 thank you to the amazing, kind and wonderful generosity of people from around the world!

So it is with the greatest delight that we can now share our designers impressions of the soon to be built Sunbeam creche with you!

The ECD will be equipped with two separate areas for the children allowing us to separate the babies from the older children, a sick bay to separate ill children from healthy ones, a small office for Shanel to meet and give feedback to parents on their children’s development and a separate sleep area for the little tots who sleep over whilst their parents work at night.

Sunbeam creche – proposed new design

We are also adding two little toilets for the tots and a new toilet for the adults, an outdoor play area with synthetic grass and a new room for Shanel and her daughter to sleep in.

Sunbeam creche - new build

Sunbeam creche – outdoor play area and bunks

We have just received the final quotation for the Sunbeam build and it’s R158000!

Quite a bit more than our original estimation but that’s because we are building Sunbeam ECD by the book so that it is a lasting legacy in the Westlake community and so that it can be an Early Childhood Development Centre where the children that attend Sunbeam are 100% school ready and are able to have a more equal opportunity at succeeding in life!

Thank you for your love and support!

Kind regards,

Ursula and The Orphan Care Team – Martin, Louise, David, Christiane, Sue, Rex and Bonnie

p.s If you’re still not convinced we are doing the right thing, please read an excerpt of a report recently published by The DG Murry Trust, titled The First Comprehensive Review of Early Childhood Development in South Africa.

Early learning: inequality reigns  

“The returns on investment in early learning, for children under 6, are vastly higher than those from later education, even primary schooling,” says Giese.  “Science tells us that early stimulation’s impact on language and numerical ability is immense. The results are life-long: they affect people’s job prospects and earning potential, so early learning is important not only for individuals, but for breaking inter-generational cycles of poverty.”

“There is great inequality across early learning opportunities for South African children,” added Giese.  “Children from wealthier families have better access to better quality early learning and therefore have a better chance of succeeding in school and in life. Inequality in SA will never be addressed as long as we continue to have inequality in early life opportunity.”

The impact on later education is evident.  The Annual National Assessments show that over 40% of children aren’t able to perform at the expected level in numeracy and literacy by the end of the foundation phase (Grade 3), and performance is poorest amongst the poorest.

“The performance gap that we see at this early stage widens as these children progress through the schooling system,” says Giese.” The DG Murry Trust.

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