Breadline Africa formed a partnership with Cool Fresh International Netherlands, Capespan, and the Balls-n-Books Foundation to provide an Early Childhood and Skills Development Centre to the community of Citrusdal in the Western Cape. The 12m container had been kindly donated by Safmarine.
This facility will be utilised by more than 270 children between the ages of three and five years old, with literacy and support from SmartStart ECD practitioners, and will also serve as a library for local children.
The centre is located on the premises of the Uniting Reformed Church of South Africa in Citrusdal, adjacent to the informal settlement and in the previously disadvantaged low-cost housing residential area. From this perspective, the centre fills a huge gap in the needs of the community for a meeting venue for small community groups, such as adult literacy training and life skills workshops.
Jan Greeve, chairman of The Balls-n-Books Foundation of The Netherlands was unable to attend the launch but sent a special message to the community of Citrusdal. He said: “Giving children a new vision is of crucial importance, as is helping them to understand that knowledge is power. The first objective is to make them hungry to open the books in the library and read.” Marion Wagner, Director of Breadline Africa added in that the organisation was delighted to join this multi-faceted partnership. “We greatly value partnerships of this nature – where each participant brings a unique and much-needed element, creating a holistic intervention that is far greater than the sum of its parts.”
Hugo Vermeulen of Cool Fresh International, also unable to attend on the day, stated: “Once again, we have seen that if like-minded organisations come together, great things can be achieved. All partners in this project worked selflessly to make it succeed. A big word of appreciation must also be extended to the volunteers who have committed to managing the centre to the benefit of the local community.”
Ansonette van der Merwe, CSI Manager of Capespan Group spoke at the launch saying: “Facilities such as these create an anchor in needy communities, around which meaningful poverty- and inequality-alleviation programmes can be developed. We commend Diaconia and the SmartStarters’ tireless work since 2016, when the late Rev. Danielle van Zyl started this literacy development “movement” in Citrusdal, to improve the quality of life for our littlest pre-school community members – our country’s future!”
Puleng Phooko, Breadline Africa’s Programme Manager spoke about the role that infrastructure plays in providing young children with a safe space to learn and grow. She emphasised the importance of close knit communities in rural areas, helping organisations such as this to succeed. In closing, she thanked all the partners Capespan, Cool Fresh International and Balls-n-Books and wished Diaconia and SmartStart every success in achieving their goals.