Education and kindness — a basis for positive change

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The first 1000 days of a child’s life are the most significant. 

It is in these important moments that we learn to talk, walk, dance and play. It is then that we learn to love and care for ourselves and for others. This is the foundation phase and the foundation of whom we grow up to become. How do you expect a child to love when he receives little of it growing up?

In 2014 I visited an Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) in Alexandra, Johannesburg. I saw one teacher watching over 40 children in a tiny, unsafe and cold space which they used as a classroom. We spent the morning together and the children basked in the attention from all the visiting volunteers. 

After this emotional visit, I went to my cousin’s house, there I sat with ten adults giving all their attention to one child. I found it heartbreaking and hard to fathom that the children at the school would grow up in an environment with limited love and care and in such bad conditions. These children also spend more time in their ‘classroom’ than they do at home, with many of these early childhood development centers opening at 6am and closing at 6pm.

In 2016 I was walking in a park when I approached a lady named Nwabisa. She was there with her school Masibulele Educare Centre. Being interested in early childhood development I gave her my number not knowing what would come of it. Weeks passed and she called me. I was inspired that she took the initiative and I agreed to visit the school the following day. As I walked into Masibulele I felt a connection, I could see they were trying their very best even though the building was in a really bad condition. I realised that even with all the educational materials they had, the children could not learn effectively as the space was unsafe.

Close your eyes and imagine you have your textbooks, stationery and the requirements you need to learn BUT the room you are sitting in is either: Too hot for you to focus 
Too cold for you to think straight 
Too dark for you to read without strain 

This is often coupled with a hungry belly and no one at home to help you after school with homework. I know I wouldn’t be able to concentrate… Would you? 

And so the journey began, one day at time, trying to figure out the rules, regulations and the right team to be part of this project, to rebuild Masibulele Educare Centre. 

The Centre has been open since 1995. It started with 3 children and there are now 110. Government funding was withheld, as the structure did not meet minimum requirements. Our only sustainable solution was to therefore rebuild so they could regain funding and continue to provide these children with love, education and guidance. 

Our goal was to raise 1.5 million rand. Proudly we have done so and are now in the process of building a safe structure, which will be complete in the next two months. Not only will this structure provide a space for the teachers and children to grow, but it will be a place which will motivate others to keep dreaming and striving for success. We are creating a holistic space where creativity and imagination can flow. 

Through this experience I have started a social enterprise.. The company LivCurious is committed to creating sustainable change by implementing innovative solutions through our social project and events management services. We provide sustainable Corporate Social Investment ‘CSI’ across a broad range of sectors, which can be tailored to our client’s vision and strategy for long lasting impact.  

Should you wish to visit Masibulele before or after the completion of the rebuild, please email Olivia Krok at: ofk444@gmail.com. You can also join our journey and follow the progress of the project on Facebook and Instagram by searching: Olivia Krok and Letsbuildmasibulele. 

Olivia Krok is a member of the Mensch Network. Visit her profile on the Mensch website at www.mensch.org.za/mensch-network/ To learn more about Mensch and the Mensch Network please visit www.mensch.org.za and follow Mensch on Facebook and Instagram. 

To read the full version of this month’s Chronicle in PDF, click here

To read the editor’s column for this issue, click here

To read the most read story of last month, click here

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