There is a legend that the world rests on the back of a giant tortoise. And he rests on another tortoise, and another, etc. Its tortoises all the way down.
Our country rests on the back of women. Strong, hands-on mothers, with hearts the size of Africa. Today I will tell you about one such woman, and next time another. And another – this story has no end.
Nokhaya dreamed of providing a safe and healthy environment for the hungry and neglected children in her Khayelitsha community – a place where they could be taught, nurtured and provided with good meals from their own food garden, while their mothers go out to work.
From the ashes
This dream started on an open piece of ground with only trees as pillars and black bags as walls, the rest was supplied by the women’s brave hearts. With no education herself, Nokhaya was on a mission to give what she had never received.
Numbers grew fast as grateful parents brought their children there every morning. The parents took of their grant money to purchase pallets and sheeting and soon a make-shift classroom arose out of nothing.
In 2005 the African Leadership Organisation built them a dry wall structure with a tin roof.
In 2009 Ark ECD (Early Childhood Development) was registered with the Department of Education.
Dusk to dawn all welcome
Today Nokhaya and her team at The Ark look after children in 3 different groups:
- 24 infants, aged from 3 months to 2 years are looked after sometimes from 5am sometimes until 8pm when parents return from work.
- Another building houses a further 50 children, aged 2 to 5 years, where the team do educational activities with the children.
- A further group of children call The Ark home from 3pm to around 6pm, where they enjoy a children’s ministry programme, and have a safe place to play until their parents return from work.
Parents pay a monthly fee towards the food and care being given to their children.
WastePlan and Soil for Life jump in
To provide fresh and nutritious food the Ark now needed to create their own vegetable garden. So WastePlan – our country’s number one recycling collection service provider – partnered with Soil for Life to help create and run this vegetable garden.
Soil for Life is an NGO helping communities grow their own vegetables by looking after their soil and employing low-cost methods to ensure healthy food is on family dinner tables every day.
In December WastePlan and some of The Ark team, including some enthusiastic young gardeners-in-the-making, worked with Soil for Life to trench, prepare the soil and plant a range of vegetables in The Ark’s very own garden.