Bringing the hope of a better life to the very young of our community. Together they run the Pikkewyntjie PrePrimary School in Mooiuitsig, “WHERE CREATIVITY MAKES LEARNING FUN”.
They are, from left to right: CHRISTEN MALGAS [teacher], LOUISE PLAATJIES [cook], ZAAN CILLIERS [principal, teacher and bus driver] and SALLY TOBIN [assistant teacher].
[Important correction to this article — made September 2015 — We incorrectly reported that PIKKEWYNTJIES had a monthly funding shortfall of R1000. This was a gross understatement.
The monthly deficit is a whopping R600 per child. There are 30 kids at the school so the total monthly shortfall is a daunting R18,000. All the more reason to dig into the old wallet and make a monthly contribution. The project is too important for the future of Betty’s Bay to allow it to fail through lack of funds.]
Zaan describes theirs as a dream team. Each staff member is hard-working and intensely loyal to the school. And while each has designated responsibilities, all four lend a hand wherever help is needed. Together they keep the place spic and span, they tend the vegetable garden and they help with food preparation. But their main focus is on the needs and education of the kids. Every day, says Zaan, her staff goes the extra mile for the children and it is this dedication that lifts this little school way above the ordinary.
The community of Mooiuitsig began its existence in the very early seventies as a typical apartheid-era township. It was originally built to house Coloured municipal workers. As in so many such townships, the residents have remained poor. They have had few opportunities to improve their lives and the lives of their children because jobs in Betty’s Bay are scarce and education is difficult to access. There are the inevitable social problems that are found in such townships – unemployment, dire poverty, hunger, single parent families and, more recently, the scourge of tik, the cheap and devastating drug that is causing havoc in poorer communities throughout South Africa. Young township dwellers are easy meat to unscrupulous dealers as these youngsters have so little hope of a fulfilling future. They are trapped in a cycle of poverty and have few opportunities to make something of their lives.
We all know the importance of early education in the life of any child. It is especially important to provide quality pre-school education in our poorer communities, for the mothers are often locked in a struggle for survival and do not have the time, the money or the skills to provide a sufficiently stimulating and safe environment for their pre-schoolers. In addition, quality pre-primary education stimulates creativity and confidence in young children and provides them with a sound educational and social foundation that can put them on the path to success in later life.
In Mooiuitsig young children can now enjoy the many benefits of an excellent early education, thanks to the establishment in 2007 of Pikkewyntjies, the pre-primary school that is run from the Community Hall. It is a very impressive little operation and well worth a visit as it will very definitely restore your faith in humanity.
You will be greeted by 30 bright eyed little people, all involved in some or other activity and supervised by one of the ladies celebrated in this article. You will be blown away by the facilities and the efficient and caring way that the school is run.
Not only is Pikkewyntjies an educational facility, it also provides for the social needs of the Mooiuitsig community.
School days start at 7 a.m. and end at 4.30, Monday to Friday, thus the school provides a safe haven for the children of working mothers. Unlike most pre-primaries, Pikkewyntjies doesn’t close for school holidays, except for a three-week period in December. This gives working parents peace of mind throughout the year.
And the children are fed twice daily. A thriving vegetable garden ensures daily fresh veges and teaches the kids how to be selfsustainable. Parents are heavily involved in the school. They attend monthly meetings with the staff and they are offered training, which ranges from parenting skills to preparing nutritious meals.
Thanks to the Lotto, the school was able to buy a 12-seater minibus, and every morning Zaan dons her bus-driver’s hat and picks up children from Lower Betty’s Bay, Pringle Bay and even Rooi Els.
Funding and the High Cost of Crime
Pikkewyntjies is a registered Non-Profit Organisation [NPO], run under the auspices of Child Welfare and the Department of Social Development. Parents who can afford to, pay R150 per month in school fees and Social Development pays R15 per day for SOME of the children. Out of this meagre monthly income, four salaries need to be paid, as well as rental, electricity, water and food bills. There is also the significant cost of replenishing the educational resources needed to keep the children stimulated.
Pikkewyntjies has a monthly shortfall of close to R1000 and the staff and the supporters of the school are constantly involved in fund-raising activities. These are time-consuming and enervating. The energy and time that is spent chasing funds could be so much better spent on the children themselves.
According to Zaan, the crime wave in Betty’s Bay is costing the school dearly. It is her opinion and the opinion of many who live in Mooiuitsig that Betty’s Bay residents regard Mooiuitsig as the source of all the crime in the area. As a result, several residents are withdrawing their financial support of the school and are refusing to employ people who live in Mooiuitsig. This, in conjunction with the deteriorating economic climate, is making life ever more difficult for the parents. 90% of the children in the school have single mothers and most do domestic or casual work. Currently, they are struggling to find employment and, more and more, mothers find themselves unable to pay the school fees. Because removing affected children from the school is an option that Zaan refuses even to contemplate, and because running costs are ever-escalating, the funding shortfall increases monthly.
Zaan, who has her finger on the Mooiuitsig pulse more than anyone else I have met, says that the prevalent belief that Mooiuitsig residents are solely responsible for the crime in Betty’s Bay is completely unfounded. While a few members of the community, no more than seven, are involved in the wider crime ring, the majority of the Mooiuitisig residents are regular law-abiding citizens. While many are aware of what is going on, they feel compelled to keep their mouths firmly shut, as they live with the threat of being killed or having their houses burnt down if they dare speak to the authorities. However, the parents do confide in Zaan.
The Mooiuitsig residents feel as strongly about the crime wave in Betty’s Bay as we all do. It must be remembered that they too are frequent victims of break-ins. Like us, they feel that the police need to do more to combat crime in the area. They also complain that convicted criminals seldom serve their full sentences. When the ringleaders are in jail, the crime levels in Mooiuitsig and the rest of Betty’s Bay drop, but on their release the problems of theft resume immediately in the wider area and theft, drug-dealing and drug taking intensify in Mooiuitsig itself.
You Can Help!
To most of us, R1000 a month seems a paltry amount, but to those running Pikkewyntjies it is a fortune. Without it, the continued existence of the school is in jeopardy.
Please consider making a monthly donation to the school. R50 a month won’t make much of a dent in most of our pockets, but would make a huge difference to the school. And innocent children should not be deprived of a future through the sins of their fathers.
So impressed am I by the wonderful work being done at Pikkewyntjies that I definitely am going to set up a monthly stop order to help fund this worthy cause and I challenge others to do the same. A one-off contribution would also be greatly appreciated.
The Pikkewyntjies bank details are as follows:
First National Bank [cheque account]
Account number: 62147034988
Branch code: 200412
Should you wish to visit the school, this can be arranged at any time.
As a registered NPO, the school has certain legal obligations that it has to fulfil. One of these is an annual audit. This requirement should give you peace of mind that the money you donate will be used for the purpose for which it was intended.