UJW provides crucial educational foundations for the children of Kensington

Herzlia Gr 12s participate in an ORT Cape activity to build the ideal Early Childhood Development Centre from Lego

By Editor

Through the long-standing efforts of the Union of Jewish Women (UJW), the Jewish community of Cape Town has built a strong relationship with Capetonians who call the suburb of Kensington home. It’s an area with its fair share of poverty.

Su Lubner and Alan Hoffman lead the Executive Committee for an important UJW project in the area. As Su explains, “The Kensington Educare Centre started over 80 years ago as a soup kitchen run by the UJW. Over the years, it expanded its operations, and today we offer a quality educational facility in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) space that serves the communities of Kensington, Maitland and Factreton.” 

Since access to education is so crucial during a child’s formative years, the role that the Centre has played in the development of the children from the area cannot be overstated. Over the years, more than 6 000 children have passed through the educational environment, gaining valuable skills that give them the edge when they move into the formal schooling environment later on. As Fazlin Jacobs, who works at the Centre, comments, “When our children go to primary school, they are often asked ‘Did you go to Kensington Educare?’ because it is clear that the particular child is far more advanced than others in the primary school.”

The 65 children currently at the Centre — funded through donations, fundraising and school fees that parents pay — benefit from a fully integrated approach to child development. Su highlights that the Centre follows the Bambanani curriculum that was developed by Afrika Tikkun. (See a previous Chronicle article about this here.) 

In addition to the advantages that the children gain from the Centre, it also serves as a valuable resource for the training of ECD teachers and support staff — and this happens through a partnership with ORT SA Cape Education, a socially conscious, committed NGO. CEO Bev Da Costa explains that “ORT SA Cape Education creates hope through quality education, including our teacher training programmes.”

A further partnership with Mensch’s food programme (which is one element of their philanthropic giving) ensures that the children receive nutritious food at the Centre, which provides all children with breakfast, fruit and lunch every day.

With alliances and collaboration a key feature behind the success of this initiative, it is fitting that the partnership is taken a step further during Herzlia High School’s annual Community Day, which took place this year on 15 March. An initiative of the Eliot Osrin Leadership Institute (EOLI), the Community Day involves a meaningful and educational day for Grade 12 pupils, aiming to expose them to the work of Jewish organisations and inspire them to get involved in volunteering with organisations in our community. 

“The content to be covered and the design of the day was structured to be as immersive, fun and engaging as possible, while imparting the required information about the various organisations visited, and the services they provide to their beneficiaries,” explains Ashley Hurwitz, the EOLI Community Schools Project Driver. 

“Pupils were given the opportunity to understand the big picture relating to our community’s needs and how the fundraising and support from various organisations is geared to meet these needs,” says Herzlia’s Subject Head for Life Orientation, Di Dos Santos.

The matric learners that selected The Kensington Educare option enjoyed a dynamic and creative day of activities with the children and the three participating community organisations — The Union of Jewish Women, ORT SA Cape Education and Mensch. Workshops highlighted the career and volunteer potential in areas from teaching to running a successful ECD. 

According to Di, “In addition to visiting the project of their choice — such as the Kensington Educare one — pupils were assessed based on their participation and contribution to the programmes they attended. Each pupil submitted a summary of their experience, and each group created a video documenting their activities and learnings.” After the visits to the various projects, all the matric pupils met to share with one another their particular experiences, so allowing for cross-learning and sharing. 

The learners clearly benefited from the experience. As Daniella Cohen comments, “The day at Kensington Educare highlighted for me how our Jewish community positively impacts the lives of the children, through the solid educational base they receive, as well as from the love and care shown to them.”

Want to get involved?
Kensington Educare Centre needs assistance to keep providing for the children. Donations of these items are always welcome:
• Children’s clothing
• Toys
• Lego
• Picture books
• Pots and pans, and other kitchen utensils
•  Vegetable plants
Contact Vanessa Arelisky at the UJW if you can help. Call her on 021 434 9555 or email info@ujwcape.co.za

• Published in the May 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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