Siyabonga Creche

In the summer of 2011, Thembanathi’s director, Lindsey Reynolds, was approached by local community leaders in the Umkhanyakude District of KwaZulu-Natal, about 100 kilometers north of Holy Cross. Though the leaders recognized the critical need for services for young children in the area and were motivated to give their time and energy, they lacked the resources and networks necessary to get such an initiative going. Inspired by their dedication, we at Thembanathi decided to help this community make their dream a reality by assisting them to get a new program on its feet.

This district is one of the poorest in South Africa and has one of the highest documented HIV rates in the world. In areas like this one that have been hit so hard by the HIV epidemic and with the long standing impacts of racial inequality, poverty and unemployment, childcare programs are an important means of supporting children and families.

Playing at the new center

Playing at the new center

• These programs help to offset the effects of disease and poverty by providing educational and emotional support and food for young children.
• The facilities help relieve the burden of care of young children on families, allowing older siblings to remain to school and caregivers to work.
• Childcare centers can serve as community centers around which other services, such as home-based care, educational programs for older children, and income-generation projects, can be organized.

In January 2012, we completed remodeling and equipping a small building for temporary use. An early childhood education program was provided in the building for two years, while we worked on fundraising for a larger, permanent facility. As many as 38 children attended each day, where they received meals, participated in developmental activities, and had a safe place to play and learn.

On January 15, 2014, we opened a new early childhood education and community center. The building, which is more than four times the size of the temporary facility, has two large classrooms that can accommodate up to 60 children. In addition, there is a kitchen, office, meeting room, and a large community room. The center is currently at capacity, with more than 60 children, two to five year of age, attending the early childhood education program.

We are committed to providing a significant portion of the operating costs for the first few years of the center’s operation, while the community works to support the project itself through local funders, in-kind donors, government grants, and income generation projects. We are also hopeful we can help them expand their services to older children through an after-school program, and to parents and other community members.
To help make the early education program sustainable and to expand the services provided, we are very much in need of your support. Please help us out by donating to support a child’s attendance, a teacher’s salary, or other costs associated with the new project, as described on our Support page.