Lesedi Children’s Pre-School – You can help to
Little did I know that going with a friend to a Charity day -organised and sponsored by the company he works for – would change my life and heart forever. Being a gentle person by nature I have always felt sorry for the very less fortunate – from car guards to domestic workers – who always have a smile on their faces yet earn a tenth of what the people I socialise with do. Then I met the children, teachers and people who run the Lesedi Children’s Pre-school and my eyes were opened to a world where feeling sorry for people is not enough. Where teachers earn less then you or I do in a day (approx R 600/month) and work from 5 am to 7 pm. Where children are born blind, deaf, autistic or paralysed and their parents are unable to feed them for days or weeks at a time. Where parents have to leave a family at 5am to get to work at 7am via our South African public transport systems, only to return home at 7pm each night, earning not even enough to put food in their families mouths, candles for light, clothing for warmth and water for cleaning. As I watched these children with tears welling in my eyes I realised that my day had to be shared – even if it means I am able to touch only one other person who is willing to help just one of these children or teachers. I arrived at the Elf restaurant in Chartwell on a day when I was not feeling very happy with what I had: my life, my looks and my lack of being “loved” or being in love. In this state of mind I walked through the restaurant and gazed upon a sight that would haunt me that night and possibly forever. In my selfishness I honestly thought I had it bad…. until I glanced at one child and her smile turned my world upside down. Little did I know that she was blind, a spastic quadriplegic and has cerebal palsy and could only sense me standing next to her… this was enough to make her beam and giggle. My Refilwe, my little angel. Being the person I am, not one to stand aside, I walked right into the midst of about 80 children between the ages of 3 months and 6 years and began to interact with them and start a journey which changed my mindset and hopefully yours as you read this. 80 children where playing on a trampoline, wandering in and out of old cars and train tracks and playing games with teachers and assistants who had arranged little groups to play everything from ring a rosies to clambering over obstacle courses. These children were not screaming or crying for the food and sweets set aside on a table within their reach (they had been told to wait) they were not begging for an ipad to entertain them: they were happy to be in a new place where playing on a trampoline, in an obstacle course and venturing through an old volkswagen beetle meant the best things in life had come to them -makes you think how “wealthier” children would have behaved. I sat down on a blanket with one teacher who had the largest smile in the world, she introduced me to her new baby girl and told me she was so happy. Happy? earning nothing and battling through life? Yes happy because she was fulfilled from within, not through material or superficial items – her soul was happy. And that’s when Refilwe caught my eye again. I reached over to her as she lay on the blanket, alone, no mother tending to her or comforting her and i gently tickled her tummy which resulted in a gleeful giggle. I then sang to her quietly and again she emitted these little squeals of delight. At this stage Bronwen walked up to me introduced herself and told me that Refilwe was born blind and spastic (we have since had her properly diagnosed). Her mother walked out on the family and her aunt, who now looks after this little treasure, has three other children and cannot afford to look after them even though she works 3 days a month. Refilwe, my little angle, was happy just because she was given attention and love. Again how selfish am I to think that I have it bad because I don’t drive a Range Rover and I ‘only” have a family to go home to anytime I need, for comfort, love and monetary support. Refilwe thank you – you gave me back a piece of me that had become superficial. For that I am in your debt always.
I then took a walk to an older boy sitting quietly by himself watching the children play. I tried to initiate a conversation or ask him if he wanted to join in the games – this boy I later learned was to old for the pre-school but at 16 he is a quadriplegic, has never been taught to read or write and was often left alone in his family shack as his parents have to work – in winter this meant he was left with a fire burning in the shack for heating, it gives me chills to think what he would have experienced had something in the shack caught alight – think about that for a minute. No way to run, no way to shout, no way out…. Lesedi now looks after him. Bronwen then introduced me to the boy who has taken over from his mom, Maria, who started the Pre-school from her shack with one child. Mamma Maria sadly passed away in October of last year she did however leave an amazing legacy. Look what she built? A safe-haven and educational facility for children, I am sure she is looking down and smiling right now, in a happy place blessed beyond measure for her good works. Her son, at 21, instead of running away from this responsibility has embraced it and taken over all obligations to do with the Lesedi creche. How can we help him? Perhaps a bursary or sponsorship to study part time. After this I mingled with the kids, I jumped on the trampoline with a curly haired child, wide beautiful innocent eyes, I leant down as her shoelace appeared untied and realised that her sneakers were broken, the laces tied together in knots, the soles loose and glued together – how many pairs of shoes do you own… the number in my cupboard, not worn for months or even years, haunted me in an instant? I then decided to take on the obstacle course and ring a rosies. Wow this is when the teachers impressed me further. They give these kids there all. They love them, entertain them, teach them manners, teach them right from wrong, teach them how to have fun with the little they have and most of all they do this without a hint of bitterness or sadness – they smile and laugh more then I see in ten lunches with friends… they earn R 600 a month and work 12 hour days. Why am I telling you this story? Well so you to can support one of these children or perhaps a teacher so we can increase their salaries. Looking after one of these children, our future, inclusive of meals and medical bills, costs less then you or I could spend at a petrol station buying coldrinks and magazines. It costs less then a round of drinks at a bar for two people, it costs less then downloading your email for a week. It costs R 160 a month… Bronwen runs Lesedi and is amazing. Read below to find out all the legalise and information on this Pre-School and how you can help. Then please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get you in touch with her and you to can begin a journey to happiness from within whilst you make a child smile instead of crying from hunger, whilst you educate a child and in doing so build hope for our future in South Africa. Please also ‘Like’ our page on Facebook here Lesedi Pre-school I am in teh process of building our website where one will be able to give donations online. A note from Bronwen:
Lesedi is a registered non-profit organisation based near Lanseria airport. There is no running water or electricity and it is the only creche servicing Malatjie township. We have 120 children aged 3 months to 6 years and all live in extreme poverty. In the year and a half that I’ve been involved at Lesedi I have raised funds to expand the creche by building 2 classrooms, a kitchen, store-room, 2 long drop toilets and a jungle gym. In February we start building 2 more classrooms. We opened a special needs project at Lesedi and have 5 children with various disabilities ranging from autism to blindness and cerebral palsy. This year we have started a library where each child takes a book home every week. We have a group of volunteers who go up on alternate Wendesday mornings to do arts and crafts with the older children and textural play with the younger children. The children now enjoy an annual outing – in 2012 we took them to the Lory Park Zoo and in 2013 to the Lonehill Fire Station. We also host a Christmas party and other events occasionally during the year. We have also started a sponsorship programme where the poorest families receive payment relief for school fees – this is where you come in. The sponsorship programme runs from Jan – Dec and for 2014 will be R160 per month. The child receives a sponsorship certificate specifying the sponsor’s name and the duration. A photo is taken of the child with their certificate and sent to the sponsor. The sponsorship will then be re-assessed in November to determine whether you would like to continue or if your child has graduated etc. Payment can be a lump sum into the Lesedi bank account or a monthly direct debit. All bank details will be sent to you along with a picture of your child. The reference on your payment will be the child’s name. Please find a few pics of the project above. The first pic shows the neighbours shack we bought in Dec 2012 and the next 2 pics are of the new classrooms & jungle gym built mid 2013. Also a pic from our outing to the fire station and of 2 of our special needs children. Lastly I’ve included one of a sponsored child with their certificate so you know what to expect on my next mail. There is a Facebook page – Lesedi Creche – if anyone is keen to join. With warm regards Bronwen