I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with My School My Village My Planet on a few special projects over the last few years, but the launch of GROW Educare Centres has been my favourite and most touching by far. And it’s all because of the impact that these centres are making in ordinary lives like that of Maria.
Maria’s story had me in tears and I will try and share it as earnestly as she shared it with us.
Maria grew up in a very poor village – where access to basic resources was very limited. As a child, she would dance, celebrate and run after any car she saw, because cars were so scare in that village. As a young teenager, she lost her mother and her life became a huge struggle thereafter. She didn’t have any support and this led her to performing very badly at school.
Maria eventually moved to Johannesburg and found a job at an upmarket pre-school in the northern suburbs. She loved the school and admired the beautiful facilities that it had. She would travel to work by taxi every day, but prior to her journey each morning, she would first drop her child off at her local creche in Alexander township where she was living at the time. What because obvious to her, every single day, was the large disparities between the school where she dropped off her son and the school that she worked at.
This stinging reality became the start of her very large vision, to create a well-resourced creche, that would be accessible to poorer parents in her community. Whenever her employer would clear out used books and toys, Maria carefully collected them and started storing them at home – for her future educational facility.
It was shortly thereafter, where she opened a childcare facility in two of the rooms in her new house in Cosmo City. She heard about GROW’s teacher-mentorship programme and found out that they were already at complete capacity. But Maria didn’t give up. She kept calling and making contact, until one day, a spot opened up and her life changed forever. Maria now has a well-resourced Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the heart of Cosmo City.
The project is run by GW Foundation whose aim is to upgrading existing childcare centres in low-income areas. The principals and teachers are thoroughly trained and provided with a full curriculum, operating system, teachers’ guides, daily programmes, educational materials, toys, equipment, posters, books, policies and procedures, business skills and mentorship (a ‘school in a box’).
The quality, consistency and performance of each centre are ensured with structured due diligence and ongoing support and monitoring. GROW Educare and My School My Village My Planet launched 10 of these facilities across Johannesburg and Cape Town just last month and they have plans for many more in the future.
I was so touched that, so many parents will now have great schools in their backyards. Instead of being heartbroken because they cannot afford to have the same in suburban areas.
Tracey Chambers, CEO of Grow With Educare, said something along the lines of ‘children not needing fancy building, but rather well-resourced buildings’. How true is that? These little ones may live in a township, but their education and resources at school are of the same high quality as any other child.
The launch event was truly touching and it was great to share some time with Shan from You Baby & I, Jo-Ann Strauss and Katlego Mabote.
Grow with Educare video
I was also thankful that I was able to play an even bigger part in the launch, through this video, which I would love for you to see. It’s still awkward to hear my own voice, but I love the purpose and messaging behind this beautiful story.
Modern Zulu Mom