Fikiswa Siko from Willowvale has been hailed a local hero in her community for running a daycare centre for disadvantaged children.
Siko said Kulozulu daycare was founded in 1996 by a “Mrs Mvume”, who went on to teach Kulozulu Junior Secondary School as a Grade R teacher.
Siko took over responsibility of fully running the daycare in 2004.
“Taking over the daycare was extremely difficult at first because the school did not have much at all,” she said. “I had to look for funding and ask for donations to continue running it.
Kulozulu daycare is an early childhood development centre that seeks to create a safe learning environment for children.
The centre currently looks after 39 children from the age of two to five. It has three staff members consisting of an assistant teacher, a cook and a gardener.
They do not get a monthly salary but depend on donations from the community as the centre relies on a grant from the department of social development and donations to survive.
Often staff members have to dig into their pockets to keep it running. At first Siko charged R30 a month for fees but soon realised that most parents and families could not even afford that amount.
She now accepts the R30 as a donation from parents who can afford to pay.
The daycare open at 8am, closes at 2pm and provides each child with two cooked meals a day.
“Most families in this community are child headed families,” said Siko.
“Children often have to drop out of school at an early age to look after their families.
“Some children come from broken families with abusive and drinking problems.”
Community members lauded the excellent work Siko and her staff did to keep the daycare running.
Parent and community member Vuyokazi Zondani said Siko was a caring person who worked well with parents and families in the community.
She said Siko had even helped poor families to get grants and often organised social workers to intervene in families that needed help.
“As a working parent, the daycare helps me a lot. I know my child is well looked after. Fikiswa is very observant and pays individual attention to our children,” she said.
As a mother of four girls, Siko said she realised the importance of good basic education.
Most children who graduate from the daycare go to local junior secondary schools in the community and she said it was important that they left her daycare competent and ready for the next grade.
“This is a God-given gift. Seeing a person’s life change for the better because of education me brings me a lot of joy,” she said. — firstname.lastname@example.org