uThixo Unathi a safe place of learning, creativity and fun
At the uThixo Unathi Day Care Centre in Kwelerha village, east of East London, ensuring happy faces is founder Pearl Kataza’s goal.
For the past four years, the Komani-born mother of two has spent her energy, time and love on making uThixo Unathi a safe place of learning, creativity and fun.
“I am doing what I love every day and it makes me happy,” said Kataza, who quit her job in marketing at a leading SA bank to pursue her passion for educating children.
“I began the centre after I saw the need for educational facilities in the area, as this is a new settlement with no facilities that accommodate children.
“Teaching children is one thing I love: To teach them a sense of worth, courage, hope and responsibility.
“The foundation phase of a child’s development is crucial. If it is not properly cared for and looked at closely, it could negatively affect the later stages of the child’s educational life.”
The centre caters for 15 children under the age of five — many of whom are either infected or affected by HIV/Aids.
“Our day-care centre promotes Early Childhood Development in the informal settlement, where there is no running water or electricity.
Our motto is ‘turning little lives around at Botha’s farm, Kwelerha’. Most of the parents in the area are either unemployed or work in nearby tomato farms as labourers
“Our motto is ‘turning little lives around at Botha’s farm, Kwelerha’. Most of the parents in the area are either unemployed or work in nearby tomato farms as labourers.
“We provide porridge and nutritious, fruity snacks before noon, as well as a midday meal such as samp and beans with vegetables,” Kataza said.
She said she especially loved teaching the children arts and crafts.
“God has blessed me with the ability to make items from scratch, and teach the children to do arts and crafts,” Kataza said.
“Our purpose is to educate, empower and safeguard the children.”
Kataza has obtained her level 4 qualification in Early Childhood Development and is now completing level 5 certificate.
The centre has two volunteers who help Kataza — Sipho Nkhola, who assists with maintenance, and administrative assistant Nolonwabo Magumbi.
Kataza said while she charged parents a small fee, many parents could not afford to pay, so the centre relied mostly on donations from the public.
“Most of the food comes from donations by Lunch Box and Smart Start. Parents cannot even afford to pay R150 a month, so we depend more on donations from good Samaritans,” Kataza said.
She said the centre had started from nothing, but despite the challenges she was determined to do what she loved.
We started from nothing with one room, but because I do what I love that didn’t stop me
“We started from nothing with one room, but because I do what I love that didn’t stop me,” Kataza said.
With a little help and a lot of faith, the centre now operates in a two-room structure. One room is used as the play, learning and nap-time area, and the other as the kitchen.
The centre also has running water from a donated water tank.
Kataza said while she did not receive a salary from her work at the day-care centre, the rewards she received were far greater.
“Seeing those smiles and happy faces is what drives me. Understanding that I am changing the lives of tomorrow's leaders today is the most rewarding thing.
“Though am not getting paid from the centre, I know God will always provide,” Kataza said.
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