Dilapidated shack is a day care centre for children


Parents in Isilatsha Village near East London hope for a good Samaritan

Photo of a shack
Ths dilapidated three-roomed shack is all that 76 children in Isilatsha Village in Mooiplaas outside East London have as a day care centre. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi

A dilapidated three-roomed shack is all that 76 children in Isilatsha Village in Mooiplaas outside East London have as a day care centre.

The shack leaks when it rains. The roof is broken. In winter it is very cold. But it is all the parents have managed to build since 1994. They say they have tried to collect materials to build a better crèche for their children, but with most people in the village unemployed, it has proven very difficult.

Xolisile Sam, a board member at the centre, says the community fears that the Department of Social Development (DSD) will close the crèche the community worked so hard to erect. Yet, they also fear that the building will collapse on their children.

Isilatsha Day Care Centre teacher Thembisa Ngcanga says the crèche is not in a good condition to house children, but there is no other option.

“The aim of this place is to keep our children safe and warm during the day. We are here to teach them, and give them love while their parents are busy with house chores,” says Ngcanga. But, she asks, “How are we going to do that if we are always in fear that the building might collapse?”

“This is a very poor community. Most people rely on child support grants; other parents are pensioners who are raising their grandchildren because their mothers passed away,” said Ngcanga.

The centre has three teachers; two receive a R1,500 stipend from the DSD; one teacher is a volunteer. Another volunteer cooks for the children. The department pays R16 per day for each child for 54 children, which helps with nutrition, recreation and administration. Parents assist with R20 a month. Ngcanga says not all parents can pay even the R20.

Parents built the crèche in 1994. Zinc sheets were collected from the community; some of them were already old when they were donated.

“At the time we had hoped that once we have enough money, we will be able to build a better crèche for our children,” she said. “As you can see, the building is shaky and when we enter winter season our fear rises … The place is totally not safe for children, but we love our jobs and the community trust us with their children,” she said.

Sam says the community tried to donate bricks for a new crèche, but there were not enough in the end for even one classroom.

“We are only hoping that one day a good Samaritan will help,” he says.

Ward councillor Zolani Nzuzo said he knew of the crèche, but was not aware of the problems it faced.

Spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development Mzukisi Solani said it was not the department’s duty to build crèches and the physical structures, but the responsibility of the community and municipality.

He said, “The Isilatsha Day Care Centre must approach the municipal offices and ask for assistance. Our duty as social development is to assist children and provide training for teachers.”

When asked why the department only pays for 54 children out of 76, Solani said that depends on an assessment done by the department.

“We only pay for parents who cannot afford to pay fees,” said Solani.

Photo of the inside of a shack
The main bedroom at the day care centre in Isilatsha Village in Mooiplaas outside East London. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi

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TOPICS:  Education

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