Zisize Centre at Manyiseni

A satellite centre was a mere long-term dream until Maria Eldred, a graduate management trainee at the Diamond Trading Company London, put the idea forward as her chosen project in 2003. Each of the fourteen graduates had been asked to submit an idea for a sustainable project in a disadvantaged community, which would give them opportunities for developing leadership and management qualities. Zisize was the fortunate one to be chosen.

On top of their normal work they spent almost a year fundraising, doing mad things like abseiling off the top of their building; sponsored long distance bike rides; head shaving and more fun things like parties. They even successfully applied for funds from organisations, with extremely generous help coming from the Exel Foundation, and also the Raymond Oppenheimer Foundation, the Oppenheimer Family Trust, Jigsaw, Overbury and Hoylake and West Kirby Round Table and 41 Club. Their families, colleagues and friends also made a huge contribution to their effort. They raised the funds to build a centre and anticipated when they arrived in April 2004 that it would be finished and they could paint it and stock it with donations kindly transported free of charge by Atlantic Movers, who in addition agreed to give us an annual free container! However,a host of building-related difficulties meant that this is what they found:-

Three weeks later, thanks to their Herculean efforts under the guidance of David Cooper from PSA Training Chepstow, (who along with Hlengiwe, also motivated the builder to speed up), this is what they left behind.

The centre is so well used that we have had to give the children time slots according to the grade they are in. Grade R also come immediately after school daily for a couple of hours as they finish school earlier than the other classes. All ages can come on a Saturday and do, in their droves!
We initially had four volunteers, (unemployed high school leavers), running the centre. Bridget trained them and visits the centre regularly. All of them were good and committed and were delighted when given a small remuneration as they had expected nothing. One left after a few months but the other three remain and now receive a salary. They share the roles of creche leaders, play leaders and study helpers.They are undertaking TREE early years training

S'thembile (above) with children borrowing library books.
Xoli (below) at storytime

Staff join children for drama at the Battle of the Books Competition. We have been amazed by the children's enthusiasm and ability and had to raise the level of questions to create a challenge for them!

Puzzling over jigsaws
Drawing is fun!
Bridget with Xoli, Bongiwe & S'thembile

Initially we only replicated the after school play and library facilities of the main centre but a crèche began in June 2005. This offers care and stimulation for young children from families cared for by older siblings, (thereby freeing them to continue their education), and from families where there is a sick carer (to give them respite). Nominations for places came from the nompilos (community nurses) who are able to identify those most in need.These children receive breakfast and lunch at the centre and their school age siblings also come to us for breakfast and have a takeaway after school, as most have no food at home and frequently no adult carer. At Zisize, they have the opportunity to play, receive care and education as well as nutrition.

Creche lunch (above); playing 'house' (below)
Making faces (above); throwing bean bags (below)

The centre runs a Soul Buddyz lifeskills group for 9 to 14 years olds as well as termly Battle of the Books Competitons. Bridget (a former READ trainer, materials developer and mentor, pictured above right) will also begin a training programme for grade 1 teachers in the area.

A weekend and holiday feeding programme began In December 2004 for 100 children. Study facilities are available for High School pupils.

Zisize and the community of Manyiseni are grateful beyond words to the DTC graduate team, Nick Godwin and Mike & Dave from PSA Training, pictured below (with Hlengiwe and Niki) and all those who sponsored their project.