Visit to Flenterskloof/Donkerhoek
During our most recent stint in South Africa, we had the opportunity to duck out with our friends at The Pebbles Project to go visit the Early Child Development Center and After School Club we’ve sponsored this year at Flenterskloof/Donkerhoek. These are two communities situated side-by-side that Pebbles has been actively working on for over a decade, and earlier this year, as we endeavored to expand our engagement to include and support some of the amazing work Pebbles does in education, we worked with them to identify these communities, partially because of the enormity of the need, but also because they are communities with which we believe we can partner for the long haul, with real avenues for growth. There may be some dreaming going on here, but we’ve spoken at length about a long term project in collaboration with Pebbles that would see us help construct a modular facility (similar to the one that currently houses one of the other projects we support, the Owethu clinic) in the community that could house the entire After School Club, which is currently split into junior and senior facilities, both of which are in relatively dire need of upgrade. The Pebbles coordinator who works with all of Pebbles teachers and staff at Flenterskloof felt strongly that finding a way to link up these two ASC’s would be really valuable for all of the children, helping increase attendance, and creating a better, more welcoming, more collaborative space. Long term goal, but I think it’s an achievable one.
Really wonderful for us on a personal level to get the chance to go spend some time with the kids and the staff at the ECD center situated on Donkerhoek, mostly just to sit and laugh and play and be reminded how critical these spaces in these communities are. On a super rainy day, it was definitely striking to notice how stark a difference there was between the surrounding area and the warmth and coziness in the ECD facility. Ensuring just those facts every day is obviously so huge in making these learning environments the place kids want to be every day, no different than here in the US. I remind myself frequently how lucky we are to be working with folks like the ones at Pebbles, who are such amazing shepherds in a space that we are so very aware we have little experience and little to offer. For us to be a part of these stories and these communities even just for a blip is really wonderful.
Some pictures and stuff below – in case you might like to have a look. These kids are freaking adorable and so much fun.