The 1st of August 2019 marked an important milestone in the lives of many as it denoted the official opening celebration of Bonisiwe Gwala’s newly upgraded Pre-School, Entokozweni, located in an area called Kwa-Nqetho, just 5kms outside of Hillcrest. Over 60 guest, including the Chief of Kwa-Nqetho, Mr. Mbengu, wore bright joyful colours and came together to celebrate the true power a collaborative dream.

Entokozweni, meaning ‘abundance of joy’ in isiZulu, caters for 30 children from 12 months to 5-year-old toddlers.Lead Architects, who also designed the improvements for Project Bright, the first of Focus on iThemba’s structural upgrades, agreed to partner with the Non-Profit again on this incredible upgrade project. The unique, cheerful space utilizes eight insulated shipping containers which house classrooms, toilets, a kitchen and an office and a storage facility.

Principal and owner of the Pre-School, Bonisiwe Gwala, who has a passion for children and a woman who understands the importance of education, started the school in a church building, located on her property. “The school’s facilities weren’t conducive to learning and were cramped, dark, had poor ventilation and the teachers had to pack up the school every Friday so the church could function over the weekends”, said Tayla-Anne Goss, Team Leader at Focus on iThemba. “The team, with the collaboration of 34 donors and partners, came together as agents of change to make Gwala’s dream a reality and for the first time, the children benefit from flushing toilets & water sustainability through the installation of a JOJO tank, floor coverings that promote hygiene, accessibility and a fun learning environment, as well as a much-needed jungle gym”.

The momentum for this structural upgrade was the wish of the anchor partners involved in Project Bright to collaborate on the transformation of another of Focus on iThemba’s partnering Pre-Schools.

One of Focus on iThemba’s key focus areas include partnering with ten local Pre-Schools to ensure elevating Early Childhood Development (ECD). With extensive research highlighting the significance of quality learning and nutrition during a child’s first 2000 days, in terms of crucial brain development, the need for a sufficient learning space for Entokozweni Pre-School was a priority.

The project reached completion thanks to the generosity of (listed in alphabetical order):Belgotex floors; Bidvest SACD; Bo’s Plant & Tool Hire; Container World; Cotswold Leisure Centre & Estate; Cotswold Management Association; Cretemix; Dezzo Roofing; Fry’s Metal; Gifford Duminy, GMA Foundation; GROW with EduCare Centres; Jocelyn van der Walt; John Clarkson (Land Surveyor); Jojo Tanks; Kerry Ingredients; Key Group; Kloof Round Table; Megan Harker; Mike and Pippa Hankinson; Nicole Singh; Northside Electrical; Lead Architects; Luke Bailes; Sarah and William Hennessy; Sear’s Electrical; Spar Group; Selwyn Green; The Collies Group; The Spur Group; The Zoe Carss Trust; Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions; 6 Bar Developments.

In addition, staff members of the Kerry Ingredients, as part of their Mandela Day Initiative, donated their time to the painting of tyres and planting of indigenous vegetation to make this a welcoming, ‘green friendly’ space for all.

Bonisiwe expressed unreserved joy and said that the project had been an answer to prayer. “There are no words to express my gratitude except thank you to Focus on iThemba and every donor and partner who was involved in this upliftment project. Without you, I do not know where we would be as a school, you gave us hope when we needed it the most. God bless you!”

Part of the morning included heart-warming speeches from Goss, Gwala and Craig Roodt, Financial Manager of Container World who shared his thoughts on the significance of the day “Today we have given these children a platform of hope for the future. Potential presidents, teachers, professionals or community leaders may just be sitting in these very classrooms and to have played a part in contributing to this life-changing opportunity is truly remarkable.”  In addition, Hero of Hope certificates were issued to donors and partners for their collaboration on this life-changing project. The sound of hands clapping filled the joyful space as an excited Gwala cut the orange ribbon to commemorate the special occasion.

“We are exceptionally grateful to all the stakeholders involved in this transformation project and for supporting our vision of Growing Hearts and Minds. Together we are stronger!” concluded Goss.

Potential partners for future ECD projects are encouraged to contact Tayla Goss on tayla@focusonithemba.org if they are able to assist.

BEFORE – 24 August 2018

AFTER – 25 July 2019