The children of Rainbow ECD Centre in Masiphumelele were so excited about their new building and play area, that nap-time was a real challenge in their first week, said Principal Cornelia Musekela.
The children’s excitement was channelled into very animated songs and dances which they performed for the delighted guests, builders and sponsors on their official open day, Tuesday April 26.
Rainbow ECD Centre cares for children between one and five years old. It will grow to have 160 children in this new purpose-built centre which has four airy, light and large classrooms, all of which are fully furnished.
There is an ablution block, an office, and a fully equipped kitchen to provide the children with two meals every day.
The kids also have two jungle gyms in a play area.
This may be the norm for other ECD centres, but before this building, these same children were being cared for in a cramped makeshift structure, not suitable for developmental opportunities, especially for the number of children attending.
The celebration of the ECD centre’s opening was a particularly joyous one as it had been four years in the making.
It cost R4 million and was a joint project between PenBev, Medicor Foundation and Heat Pump International and the Rotary Club of Newlands to build the centre.
The ablution block and a rainwater harvesting system were provided by the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation.
Architecht, Graham Finlayson, said the project was part of Rotary Newlands’ service and was eco-friendly in that it had solar hot water heating, and a rainwater harvesting system. “We wanted to create a holistic environment geared to support learning and development for children, so that when they reach Grade R they are on par with the school standard,” he said.
He said the building was one of substance, value and was very attractive. “This community knows value, and when good value is shown to them in a good building, they feel considered and re- spected, and in turn will respect the building,” he said.
Steve Zimri, chairman of Rainbow ECD Centre thanked the five board members whose hard work and dedication helped make an idea reality.
He said: “It is a great joy for us to move the Rainbow children into this building, knowing that they are the ones who will benefit the most. All the parents have been eagerly awaiting the move into the new premises and this opening is a much anticipated celebration for a new beginning.”
Mr Zimri said his wish is to grow enough to bring in younger children, and turn out children who are equipped for learning in “big school”.
“I have been told that many times when our children get into Grade R they don’t even have basic skills like how to hold a pencil.
“We need to fix that and give our children the best start, or they will spend the rest of their lives playing catch up, or falling further behind.”
He said that while everything else in South Africa is being tagged #somethingmustfall, he wants for Masiphumelele to take the opposite approach, and said instead, that #Hopemustrise.
According to UNICEF, good nutrition, health, consistent loving care and encouragement to learn in the early years of life help children to do better at school, be healthier, have higher future earnings and participate more in society.
PenBev commercial director, John Joubert said: “What happens during the early years is crucially important for every child’s future development.
“The new Rainbow ECD Centre is our 30th brick and mortar corporate social investment (CSI) project.
“We are extremely proud of this long-term investment in the lives of many young children living in Masiphumelele.”
The City of Cape Town was represented by ward councillor Felicity Purchase who was on hand and delivered a speech of gratitude and appreciation to all the role-players, and a vote of confidence in the future for children in Masiphumelele.
The Rainbow ECD Centre is one of two that have been built by private donors in Masiphumelele – at a total cost of R6 million.
“The first was constructed by the Masiphumelele Corporation (Masicorp) at a cost of R2 million and is already operational, catering to the development needs of 100 children.
“We are very thankful to the private donors who have come forward to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of Masiphumelele residents.
The City doesn’t have the resources to build such facilities at a quick enough pace to meet the very great need that exists in so many communities, so we welcome such public-private partnerships because they help to ensure that the job is done sooner,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development, Suzette Little, who officially unveiled the plaque at the end of the opening ceremony.