Rodney's passion is to give children a good start in life
Rodney Parsons has made it his mission for 12 years to ensure that children in his community, Amalinda, East London, receive a good education and a tummy full of food every day.
Establishing Carleen's daycare centre, as well as a creche, in Amalinda Forest is Parsons' way of acting on his passion to ensure children's wellbeing.
“Unfortunately we had to close down the creche in Amalinda Forest about two years ago because the building was sold by the property owner, but I managed to make a place for the children from there at my family's creche, Carleen's daycare and preschool,” said Parsons, 56, whose passion for educating children was instilled in him by his father.
“My father was always good with children. From a young age I knew I wanted to help children. Educating a young child is my life; this is what I love doing,” he said.
The school caters to 60 children between 18 months and six years. Twelve people from Amalinda Forest have been trained and are employed by the school.
“I am so passionate about children and making sure that they are looked after, taught well and have a meal to eat, regardless of background, colour or circumstance. All children deserve an education,” said Parsons.
He said the most rewarding aspect was to see children who had battled to speak English successfully move on to “big school” after their time at the preschool.
“It's so rewarding to see them move on and know that they are prepared for it,” said Parsons who has seen some of the children from his day care centre move on to Voorpos, Crewe and other primary schools around East London.
Parent Sophokasi Nyonbo said Parsons was great with the children and she really appreciated having a good place to take her daughter every day.
“My daughter is very happy and it's a good school; she's learnt a lot,” said Nyonbo, whose four-year-old previously attended Parson's creche in Amalinda Forest and now attends Carleen's daycare centre and preschool.
As schools closed on March 18 and the nationwide lockdown came into force on Friday, Parsons was worried about the children who relied on the school for a daily meal.
“It's really tough not being able to keep the children in school right now. It breaks my heart.
“For many of those from Amalinda Forest, coming to school ensures that they have a meal. They know they'll have porridge and lunch and a snack to take home. It's really going to be tough on some children and parents,” he said. He gave as many children's books to parents for the lockdown period as he could.
Growing up in Amalinda, Parsons said he has always tried to spend public holidays going into Amalinda Forest with food.
“I miss not being able to visit the community and help where it's needed. I usually take about three or four big pots of food, which feeds about 90 people. I always go over Christmas and the other holidays, and I was planning to go over Easter, but now that's not possible,” he said.
“I always try to bring some party packs and toys over Christmas for the children in the community. If we can help others we should try to, as best as we can.”