Siziwe turned retrenchment into the best thing that happened in Dimbaza
As a factory supervisor in Dimbaza, Siziwe Magobiyane had no idea she had the ability to help her community, but when the factory closed down and she was retrenched, Magobiyane had to change her plans.
Now running the Cebolesizwe family and children's resource centres as a non-profit organisation in Dimbaza, Magobiyane describes being retrenched as a “blessing in disguise”.
“I was a victim of certain circumstances and I had to start something. I had to show people that from being a victim you can become a victor,” said Magobiyane, 53, who started her community project in 2004 from her home.
“I started out working with different schools in the community and offering awareness talks and helping students with their homework. At the time there was no after-school care for children and they were always just left at home by themselves,” Magobiyane said.
Today Magobiyane runs a preschool for 25 Grade R learners as well as a daily after-school homework programme for 80 children in her community.
Each child receives assistance with their homework as well as a cooked meal after school.
Magobiyane also holds health programmes and talks in 16 different schools in her community as well as parent-skills training sessions and awareness talks.
“We hold parent skills sessions as well as health talks to assist parents and youngsters. Each school has also been given health packs or first aid kits. We've also started vegetable gardens in a few of the schools and we have our own vegetable garden at the centre too,” said Magobiyane, who grew up in Port Alfred, but has lived in Dimbaza since she was 15.
The centres are managed by Magobiyane, who now has a diploma in teaching and counselling. Magobiyane is assisted by a staff of four including a cook, teachers and an administration assistant.
She said the centres received funding from both the social development department and private local and international funders. This had made possible the building of one classroom, an office and a kitchen.
“We really need a bigger building, especially for the after-school programme because we can't fit any more kids in, but parents ask me all the time. We started out in a shack structure, but in 2013, with German funding, we managed to build our first brick structure,” said Magobiyane.
She said she was never happier than when she was helping others and running her centres.
“I realised we have to change the lives of the people in our community and that's what I'm trying to do. I love talking to my community and making sure they are informed and that they have access to opportunities and information.
“When I look back to how we started I just keep thinking that we can do it. We really have come far and I hope we keep getting bigger and better,” said Magobiyane.
Sydney Mzileni, a teacher at Zabalaza Primary school in Dimbaza, said that Magobiyane's efforts helped both teachers and students at the school.
“They provide so much support to our learners and to us as teachers. We work as a team, and you can see the difference when the children have had assistance with their homework,” said Mzileni.
School principal Mandisa Kuhlane, who was newly appointed in 2019, can already see the positive impact Magobiyane makes.
'We get a lot of help from the centre, and the fact that our students get a meal after school and assistance is greatly appreciated,” said Kuhlane.