Our aftercare is brimming full with new children. We’ve had 30 new admissions this year, bringing our total to 129.
This is stretching our resources such as space and teachers to the limit. Most of the new children are from Grade R to Grade 3 which means that Mrs Mavilo and Mrs Ngewu have classes of 30 children each. Last year they were comfortably teaching 20 children but this year their skills are being stretched.
Our major concerns are that we have a small space for 129 children and that its not easy to care for so many children, leading to increased chance of fighting and injuries amongst the children. These are vulnerable children who need the individual care from the grandmothers, however this vision seems to be slipping from reach with the overwhelming need.
And yet…more parents are requesting admission for their children.
We decided that we would have a cut-off number but what do you do when mothers break down crying in disappointment and worry about where to send their children?
The seriousness of the need was depicted just yesterday.
I assisted Mrs Mavilo is setting up a painting class for her children. Their little faces lit up when they saw the paint and it was quite a challenge to expect them to sit down while we organised things.
As the children engaged in this activity I noticed one little girl sitting on the edge not participating. She was not making eye contact with anyone. I immediately recognised this girl to be a new admission who sat crying three weeks ago because she was embarrassed about her shaven hair. Her mother had shaved her hair in an attempt to cure the fungal infection that was spreading on her scalp. When I went forward to hand her a paintbrush, thinking that she was perhaps she was shy to ask the other children for one, she started crying. I was at a loss, not understanding isiXhosa is such a challenge! Once Mrs Mavilo had caringly asked her what was wrong we discovered that she had not eaten food all day because there was no food at home. Fortunately we provide food for the children at GAPA and thankfully she was soon playing around with the other children after some bread and juice.
This just drives home to what extent the services we offer at GAPA are needed in the lives of these vulnerable children.