By MZWANDILE MAMAILA
At the corner of Vellem Street in Joza is a haven for children with innocent young faces, energy, and enthusiasm to learn.
Since 1992, the Assumption Nutrition Centre has taken on responsibility for feeding underprivileged learners and running afterschool classes.
The centre was opened after pleas from local teachers and leaders as school learners struggled to concentrate at school due to hunger.
The Assumption Sisters began providing breakfast and lunch for the learners and assisted them with their schoolwork after school.
Sister Regina Chilanga, a manager assistant at the centre, said, for some, they are the only meals they receive for the entire day. And they tend to keep leftovers they can take home. Some children are in orphanages, single parents raise others, and others have unemployed parents.
The sole source of income in some homes is the social grant of R480, which is insufficient to take care of a child. They have a register of 103 children, and around 85 attend every day.
Chilanga said the centre operated with assistance from an Irish donor and some local donors. However, the centre has grown, and more classrooms and a dining hall are required to cater to the current and future children.
“We will be able to educate more children!” Chilanga said.
The meals are prepared by Monica Kley, who has been part of the centre since 2013. She is the housemother of the centre, and she defines herself as a “childcare worker.” She finds joy in cooking for the children and looking after them.
Kley prepares a breakfast porridge and a sandwich which they carry to school. Lunch varies, and each day has its unique meal. From samp and beans to vegetables and fish, the children begin their afterschool classes filled with a nutritious meal.
Kley believes this centre is necessary for the community of Makhanda as it challenges the daily social ills in the children’s homes and assists them with avoiding unpleasant influences such as alcohol and drug abuse.
The afterschool classes are run by five women, who ensure that every learner receives the assistance they need with their homework and assignments. They assist learners in Grades 4–7 with Mathematics, literacy, and many more subjects. Physical education classes take place every Thursday as well – dancing, sports, and play.
Zodwa Libi is one of the women assisting the children with their schoolwork every Monday to Friday. After working at the centre for more than five years, she always enjoys hearing wholesome feedback from the children and their parents. She can also identify the astounding improvements as she explains how some children come to the centre struggling with reading and writing.
Get in touch with the centre to lend a helping hand in funding, feeding, and educating these friendly, young, and bright souls. Keep up with their weekly activities as well on their Facebook page.
Sister Amelia: 078 102 6467
Facebook: Assumption Nutrition Centre