A short story on the background of Rejoy Day Care

About 6 years ago, I became aware of Pastor Janneman van Wyk and Elsa Coetzee of the Duet Congregation who had been working in social support in the Township of Ikageng near Potchefstroom. They had very little financial support to service a huge need for early childhood development. Literally thousands of children (aged 0 – 7 years) had no proper facilities or developmental program and kids were left wandering in the streets or possibly kept in shacks with care-givers looking after them while the parents were working. There was no understanding of developmental programs for preschool children.

I read a PhD study that indicated that people who had no proper early childhood development program during the first 7 years of their lives, could only develop 20% of their potential and they could never recover the backlog. This may be a causal factor in further development, particularly in previous disadvantage communities and a lack of government involvement.

We registered a NPO and PBO organization called Bafenjy Trust (victorious in the Tswana language) and wrote a proposal to the Yara Outreach Trust, who graciously provided us with enough funds to buy 4 plots in the Ikageng Township and to start building schools for the toddlers.

Over the years Janneman, Elsa and myself formed Bafenyi, strictly as volunteers only. In time and as the schools were properly developed we welcomed various principals of schools as trustees – with children as primary beneficiaries. We build 3 schools with proper infrastructure and qualified practitioners and teachers (i.e. New Life, Mamello and Regologile) each with about 120 children.

The Rejoy Day Care Centre under the leadership of Egmecia and with the support of Bafenyi Trust was to be the last of the schools on the 4 plots, when we were overwhelmed with the burden of developing and supporting the 3 existing schools. Fortunately, the Artillery School of Potchefstroom built a temporary zinc structure on the plot of Bafenyi Trust – and the Rotary Club of Potchefstroom became involved.

Under the presidency of Sanet Janse van Rensburg a small zinc toilet for boys and girls were erected – mostly with the help of qualified plumber Andre Hallaby, a fellow Rotarian, who also built and connected a toilet for the teachers.

Under the presidency of Chris de Bruyn we started planning and looking for funds for a proper brick walled school. The following year the Rotary Potchefstroom club held a successful Golf Day and the proceeds were provided for president Rob Trautman in conjunction with fellow Rotarians Lou van Rensburg and Nico Spaumer, to build a classroom, adjoining toilets for boys and girls, a storeroom, a kitchen and a toilet for staff. Investec made a generous donation, which also made it possible to lay the foundations for a future two additional classrooms with necessary facilities. These still need to be built (estimated cost R250 k).

In retrospect, Rejoy Day Care has received limited support, while Bafenyi became increasingly involved with about 35 other day-care centres and community projects, reaching more than 2,000 children and their parents with workshops and community events. With funds from various other donors a playground was developed and a security fence was erected. The school grew to about 50 children with 3 teachers to help Egmicia. Rejoy desperately needed new focussed funds and support, to develop into a viable self-sustainable school (±120 children according to our business model) and along came fellow Rotarian Chris de Bruyn who knew Annemarie Mostert of the Rotary E-club of South Africa and the Sesego Foundation and MATTER who donated a whole year’s food for Rejoy Day Care.

Food is a major budgetary monthly item for a school like Rejoy Day Care, who provide 2 meals per day with limited support from paying parents. A provisional certificate was issued by the health department and as soon as the school has enough Grade R pupils, they can look forward to registering with the state department of education to receive a subsidy for each Grade R pupil. It is a tipping point where a school can be potentially self-sustainable and develop into a centre of educational excellence. To get there, Rejoy needs to grow their numbers of pupils in Grade R and if the demand is sufficient, build the last two classrooms with adjoining bathrooms on the existing foundations.

We decided to store the food in a container at the offices of Bafenyi Trust and to distribute a weekly quota to Rejoy staff who attend our workshops to provide weekly working programs. In this way we could monitor and support the process and performance of Rejoy and keep the food secure.

I believe, that the availability of healthy wholesome tasty meals at Rejoy, will provide that imputes to attract new students while supporting the existing children to learn and live healthy lives.

On behalf of all the children, their parents, teachers and other stakeholders like Bafenyi Trust and Rotary Potchefstroom, we need to thank everyone for their valued and continued support to Rejoy Day Care.

Kind Regards.

Martin van Wyk

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