Hlayisanani ECD Centre was my Home

Monday 23 July 2018
“I remember being a child, having many mothers who loved me, dished up for me, wiped my tears, and picked me up when I fell. I remember having many friends, because our mothers here at Hlayisanani taught us how to love one another,” said Sharon Maboko, an Alumni of the Hlayisanani ECD Centre in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg.
Maboko added that Hlayisanani “was never my school or my second home, it was my home.” She is from the class of 1991, the year the Save the Children-owned ECD centre was established. She was amongst those who visited the centre to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday on Wednesday, 18 July. Every year people around the world celebrate his birthday in different ways including volunteering, the former South African President would have turned 100 years old this year.
Maboko is currently unemployed and has not been able to further her studies after matric. Her story has touched Save the Children South Africa (SCSA) CEO Gugu Ndebele, who believes the best way to honour Mandela is to invest in children. “I have to get her back to school. Our centre is 27 years this year...same number of year Madiba spent in jail.  Maybe I met her today to ease her suffering. I do not know how but I know it will happen,” said Ndebele.
The Department of Health was also on site, to assess the weight and height of children.
“As the Department of Health we believe that for children to grow well, it starts at ECD centres. I always tell ECD practitioners that if you do not feed the children well, you are failing South Africa. If you look at the matric results and these children are not doing well, it is because these children were not given a good foundation.
For children to grow and perform well they need good nutrition and good health,” said Josephine Sekabate, from the Department of Health.
A representative from Reel Gardening taught children how to grow their own food, while Tiger Brands donated more than a thousand boxes of 1kg Jungle Oats to Save the Children South Africa. Ndebele thanked all the partners, including Adidas for donating 3000 items for the upcoming Global Goals World Cup.
The tournament which is aimed at monitoring progress of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, will be held in Johannesburg on 13 October. Hlayisanani’s principal Jacobeth Moikanyane, who has been working at the centre since 1991, said the centre has brought significant change in the lives of children and parents living in the area and hopes to continue doing so.

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