Community Unites to Build New Special Needs Centre in Mbekweni
A dream to build a new centre for special needs children in Mbekweni has officially started to become a reality.
On Friday, 20 August 2021, a groundbreaking ceremony marked the first day of construction for Good Hope Day Care Centre’s (GHDCC) bigger facility on the Hope Through Action Foundation grounds, next to the Mbekweni Community Sport Centre.
Currently, a group of 20 children with various physical and mental disabilities and their caretakers, are cramped into a very small home.
Xoliswa Mjezu, the manager of GHDCC, opened the centre six years ago when she realised that there were no special needs centres in the entire Mbekweni, a population of 60 000 people, that could look after her autistic daughter. Xoliswa has been effectively running the centre with passion and resourcefulness, but the challenges are debilitating.
“The children don’t have enough space to develop properly and reach their full potential. It’s difficult, because we can’t apply for government grants due to the structural requirements. We need to support our children better, and so many more who are on the waiting list,” says Xoliswa.
Good Partnerships Create Good Hope
Multiple stakeholders from the Cape Winelands have come on board to partner in the project, either by donating funds, time, services or goods in kind.
“We have been blown away by the generosity of so many different people, contributing what they can to help the children. Good Hope Day Care Centre is an extraordinary project with great potential, but the reality is that they drastically need more space,” says Ivan Swartz, CEO of Valcare, the social impact nonprofit company, who is serving as the project managers.
In November 2019, the Vodacom Shop Celebrity Golf Day at Pearl Valley Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course at Val de Vie Estate, managed to raise more than R600 000 to kick off the funding of the centre. The Val de Vie Foundation has been one of the main social investors for Valcare, contributing greatly to achieve sustainable social change in the Cape Winelands.
Ryk Neethling, Val de Vie Estate Marketing Director commented: “The last two years have been very difficult due to the pandemic, and Xoliswa has faced many challenges, looking after some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. It feels like yesterday when we raised funds for Good Hope Day Care Centre, and we are delighted that the day has arrived for her hopes to turn into reality.”
Since then, most of the service providers have been so moved by Xoliswa’s story, that they are doing the work completely pro bono, or giving significantly reduced fees or earning no profit. Everyone, from the architects to the quantity surveyors, builders, contractors and the suppliers, are uniting to make this dream happen.
To ensure a multi-beneficial approach, community leaders in Mbekweni have been part of the meetings to discuss the project, and local skilled workers (like painters, bricklayers, cement workers and tilers) are being recruited to help with the construction to create income opportunities.
About the New Building
- Space: The property size is 480m2 and the day care centre will be 144m2.
- Rooms: An open classroom with moveable dividers, an office, kitchenette and a bathroom, all considering specific requirements for special needs children.
- Outdoors: Astro turf play area with a refurbished jungle gym.
- Safety: Security gates, burglar bars, cameras, a security company and panic buttons.
A Call for Contributions
Since the inception of the project, the building costs have doubled due to Covid-19, material shortages, scope changes and inflation. To get the building up and running by the end of 2021, GHDCC still needs additional funds to make it happen.
“To help these vulnerable children go from merely surviving, to thriving, we need to jump in and do all we can to help, even in difficult times. We are inviting business partners who want to build our community, to be part of this significant story of collaboration and hope,” says Ivan Swartz, CEO of Valcare.
Alderman Conrad Poole, Executive Mayor of Drakenstein Municipality, said he was impressed by this project and that it definitely deserves the support of everybody:
“These children are vulnerable and they need all the love and care in the world. Thank you to everybody involved in this project – this definitely is a great example of ubuntu. It is not only the government’s duty to look after our children, but it is of critical importance that the private sector and non-governmental organisations work together to make the world a better place for them. On behalf of Drakenstein Municipality, a heartfelt thank you to all the role players. May this project be a major success and may it bring you and the children lots of joy.”
Val de Vie Foundation, Medipost, Pure Legacy Foundation.
Suppliers / Service in Kind:
Louw & Louw Architects, SFA Quantity Surveying, Habikon Housing, A19 Consulting Engineers
Build It (Wellington).
Valcare – www.valcare.org.za
Social Investment Manager – Elsa Fourie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PR & Marketing Manager – Leani Jansen van Vuuren (email@example.com)