My Little Angels & Friends Day Care Centre, Emakhandeni, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Dorcas Tshuma, founder of My Little Angels & Friends Day Care Centre
Dorcas passed away on 18th October 2017 after a few days of contracting meningitis in the prime of realizing her long life’s ambition to build an orphanage to educate the poor and disadvantaged children from age 0 – 5 years old. The Day Care Centre, which is run from a rented house, has been the beginning of that ambition, to then grow and expand into bigger premises. This was devastating for her family and a great loss for the children that she loved and cared for. Their hopes of pre-education were dashed.
She had applied for a plot of land and passed away while the application was being processed by the Bulawayo City Council offices. A follow-up is being made and once passed, the idea is to continue her legacy and build to spec, an early learning and child development Centre that caters for disadvantaged children. The facilities were to be built to accommodate at least up to 100 children if resources permitted.
The interim running of the Day Centre needs funding in the form of running costs; rent, electricity, wages for the current 2 teachers, (one of them employed to run the programs after Dorcas’s death), and light food supplies, for breakfast and at break time and some light lunch.
The numbers will grow with the next enrollment for January. As the children arrive in the morning they are given porridge and a drink for breakfast, and snacks and drinks during break. Those who stay until later, are given lunch.
The way Dorcas funded the Centre, as the parents could not afford to pay for the running costs, buying uniforms and writing materials etc, has been through her little projects for example, a couple of stalls that she rented out and a plot of land where she did a bit of farming and sold bags of maize after harvesting. Her daughter, who has to work overtime each month, helped her with rent money for the premises, and she ran the Centre without any salary, but just managed to pay her assistant.
The Day Centre is affiliated to the local Emakhandeni Primary School, which then takes registration for Grade 1, after the children have completed Grades A and B in the Day Centre.
Dorcas had to improvise with some of her teaching materials due to lack of funds however at the same time utilizing the children’s imagination in creating some of the materials and even props for their drama classes. For arts and crafts, they use toothbrushes and empty yogurt jars for drawing and painting lessons. There is a shortage of crayons, colouring pencils, pencils, paints, exercise books and even bits of paper to write and do their drawing. Their book-case/library has no reading books. The technology corner has a very old typewriter, old printers and broken TV and speakers, just to show the children what technology means and what it looks like. They could do with a Computer, couple of laptops and a connection to the internet so that they could have hands on as part of their learning. These are supposed to be the technology age children, but have nothing to connect them to technology which is part of their curriculum.
The rest room for nap time for the young ones has bear sponge mattresses with no proper bedding. The toilet has no adaptations for the use of the little ones and boys and girls.
In the back yard of the rented house there is a piece of land which could be utilized as a play area with a slide and a swing, and this would be useful as the number of children is growing and additional outside playing space is needed. An application was being sourced from the local council to see if, for a small fee the land could be rented out. The Council were looking into it and a follow up is being made..
In November they made preparations for the graduation of the Grade A’s moving to Grade B and the Grade B’s moving on to Primary Education. This is quite an exciting event for the children to encourage them in their progression to Primary education. They dress up in little gowns, which are hired for a small fee and the kids receive certificates for their achievements, which are recognized and taken into consideration for registration into the Primary School. The Graduation took place on the 4th of December 2017 before breaking up for Christmas.
The register has 20 children enrolled; however, they are currently enrolling children for next year’s intake which will double the numbers, with most parents keen to get their children enrolled at the Centre. The parents have come to recognize the benefits and the importance of pre-school education before Primary School, which gives the children a head start into education. The school year starts in January and finishes in December.
Pre-education / early learning and child development is an imperative requisite into education and driven by technology also means that basic education is the foundation to better and brighter children’s futures and these are the opportunities that Dorcas Tshuma was compelled to give equally to all the children despite their disadvantaged backgrounds.