Mnqobokazi, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
DESCRIPTION OF THE COMMUNITY
KwaZulu Natal (KZN) is home to 19.9% of South Africa’s population, making it the second most populated province, after Gauteng. While the countries 2016 growth in GDP was 0.6%, KZN’s was -0.7%. KZN consists of 10 District Municipalities of which Mnqobokazi community, located close to Phinda Private Game Reserve falls within second largest – uMkhanyakude District, at 13,855km². Due to the landscape of this region and its numerous conservation parks, the Districts key economic sectors are tourism, trade and agriculture. The local Municipality governing Mnqobokazi community is called Big 5 Hlabisa, and is characterized by poor infrastructure, particularly in the areas of water, electricity sewage, sanitation and solid waste services. The population of Big 5 Hlabisa is approximately 112,000, of which 31% have their matric qualification and only 7% have continued into tertiary education. More than half of households are female-headed and almost 30% are informal structures.
Mnqobokazi community follows these trends. The approximately 10,000 people here are serviced by one poorly equipped clinic, six primary schools, all of which feed in to only one high school. This is insufficient for the number of children and many travel daily to neighboring Mduku community high schools, which now also suffer from the increased burden on resources. While there is electricity and some piped water, very few households benefit from these, and water is still predominantly sought from community access points or commercial trucks that sell water. Public transport within easy reach of community members is limited, and the nearest town of Hluhluwe, where the majority of support services can be found, is 30km away.
Bhekinkomo Crèche was initially established in a classroom at the prominent Nkomo Full Service School, where over 900 primary school children are educated. Mrs Zikhali, the school’s principal recognized the benefit that access to Early Childhood Development facilities have on children by the time they reach primary school. With limited crèche options in their catchment area, and women who were eager to run a crèche and to care for children, Mrs Zikhali, offered a classroom for the cause. The crèche began in 2011, with 15 children.
Enrollment quickly grew to 73 children and it was clear that the young children and infants could no longer be housed within the school. There was a dilapidated small two room building, and rondavaal behind the school site that Nkomo Primary purchased and donated to the crèche. They sought the assistance of Africa Foundation to refurbish the building and make it fit for purpose. Through the generosity of donors, the original buildings were restored; newly plastered, new floors, ceiling, windows. Additional donations also allowed for the purchase of some furniture and equipment.
An immense improvement though it was, the crèche is still not large enough to house, and care for the number of children enrolled. There are now 83 children and 4 teachers, food is prepared outside and there are no toilets on site, the children need to go onto the school site. It is the intention that the crèche area should be separated fully from the school with a boundary fence, to keep the young children safe.
It has also been agreed that the current building would be converted into the crèche kitchen and dining area, the rondavaal, an office and storeroom and a new double classroom would be constructed. The crèche also needs a set of Enviroloo toilets and outdoor playground equipment. Africa Foundation has prioritized raising funds to build double classrooms which will make the necessary amendments to the current crèche to convert it into a kitchen.
The cost of constructing a double classroom at Bhekinkomo Creche is $50,999.