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New Grow ECD Pre-School opens in KwaZulu-Natal thanks to collaborative efforts

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, a proud Grow ECD centre, located in an area called Kwa-Nqetho, just 5kms outside of Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal. 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. This project has been made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts and grand vision of Focus on iThemba .

Entokozweni, meaning ‘abundance of joy’ in isiZulu, caters for 30 children from 12 months to 5-year-old toddlers and is a beacon of hope as a high quality ECD centre serving disadvantaged communities.

Lead Architects agreed to partner with Focus on iThemba , the non-profit responsible for this project and many others, on this incredible upgrade project. The unique, cheerful space utilizes eight insulated shipping containers which house classrooms, toilets, a kitchen and an office and storage facility.

ECD owner is happy about the transformation

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 pre-school in a church building, located on her property. “The pre-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 Focus on iThemba team, with the collaboration of 34 donors and partners, including GROW Educare Centres, came together as agents of change to make Gwala’s dream a reality and for the first time, the children now benefit from

  • flushing toilets,
  • water security,
  • floor coverings that promote hygiene,
  • and a fun learning environment,
  • as well as a much-needed jungle gym and
  • a detailed daily education programme to ensure these children reach their developmental milestones”.

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 34 donors. Gwala, 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!”

A platform of hope and quality education for pre-school children

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.” 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.

Get involved by helping an ECD centre

Potential partners for future ECD and Educare social investment projects can contact Tracey Chambers on info@growecd.org.za for more information.