At 65 Nancy Motloutsi has finally found her calling. Sitting straight in a chair in the cramped kitchen of Tswelapele Day Care she crosses her arms over her chest. Drawing an imagined child to her chest. “I love children. I want to keep them safe. I don’t want them to run on the street. And when the parents go to work, I want to have a safe space for their children.”
For a woman who has spent her life trying to improve herself, Tswelapele allows her to share that message with the 81 children in her care. Her parents, she says, could not afford to send her to school so she began working as a maid before marrying early.
She sounds missionary in her zeal as she says, “I tell my children and I tell their parents, It’s too late for me to go to school but they must go. I tell them how much I suffered. I tell them education is very important.”
Nancy understands that her school lays the foundation for everything that follows. While she takes joy in teaching her children how to draw and paint, she knows that these activities are tools to help her prepare them for when they leave. “I am teaching them more than to draw. I teach them to be comfortable with other children, not to be scared. To respect each other. To listen to their teachers. When they go to school they are ready.”
The bright walls of Tswelapele, covered in posters and hand drawn schedules distract from the defects of the building itself. The roof leaks when it rains and cracks creep across the ceiling like a spider web. “In five years I want to make it beautiful. I want to have more chairs, more tables. Then I can have 100 children. God keeps giving me the children. They just keep coming.”
For this reason she is grateful for all that she is learning through the ASHA training. In her short time on the course she has learnt the importance of a balanced menu and set programmes of activities. “At ASHA I am learning about mental and physical well being of the children. I am learning so much. I am learning how to guide the teachers. When we are finished I will know how to make my centre better.”
Nancy is just one of 20 Principals in Alexandra township we are currently empowering through Early Childhood Development (ECD) training facilitated by the Early Care Foundation (previously known as ASHA Trust). Since 2014 we have empowered 60 Principals/Owners and 60 ECD Practitioners to successfully run their Day Care Centres and offer the children in their care a school readiness programme.