School brings light to settlements’ children

The Children of Light School in Rondebosch East celebrated their first anniversary on Wednesday October 17.

Children from the Pooke se Bos and Hadji Ebrahim Crescent informal settlements are being educated, and provided with a safe place at the Children of Light School to explore and be children, instead of playing on the streets and constantly having to keep their guard up.

However, the non-profit organisation, which was established on October 17 last year and is based in Rondebosch East, needs your help to stay afloat.

The Children of Light School has taken in nine children from these settlements and here they are allowed to play, and are taken on excursions every two weeks to boost their social knowledge and experiences, said principal of the school, Mala Makan.

The school operates from Tuesday to Friday from 8am to noon.

“We also provide transport for them to and from school which costs us R4 000 a month and if we have meetings we have to pick up their parents as well because they don’t have transport. We work with the parents and community leaders to make sure that we don’t take over their lives completely and that they are still responsible for their children and we still respect them,” she said.

Ms Makan said donations in the form of groceries such as lentils, rice, flour, fish oil, fruit and vegetables, toiletries and transport sponsorships were needed as the children also received a meal at school every day. At the moment they depend on funding and donations from the community and friends and family.

“We teach them how to be better human beings by offering a value-based education which takes a holistic approach. We want to intervene at foundation level and provide quality education, therefore we only have nine children.

“During the first six months it was so difficult because they completely rebelled against us and used foul language and would fight all the time but through yoga therapy, music, and education they have managed to let their guard down and trust us and be open to knowledge because they are happy,” she said.

Ms Makan said some children were exposed to social ills such as abuse, and neglect and they are emotionally traumatised. She said many of them had never experienced visiting anything outside of their communities such as the mountain or the ocean.

The parents of the children are supportive and attend all school meetings as they are interested in their children’s development and notice the change the school has made, and in return this has had a positive effect on the entire family, said Ms Makan.

“This is a safe space for them. We speak nicely with no shouting because that is what they get at home. Yoga therapy has really helped them but we can only do it for a short time as they get bored easily. When they go into the garden they are so calm and relaxed,” she said.

One of the parents, Debbie Phillips, who stays in Hadji Ebrahim Crescent, said when her son first attended the school last year he couldn’t speak English but he now can.

“He was also very naughty but now he is well-behaved. He really likes school a lot,” she said.

For more information or to make a donation, call Mala Makan on 084 919 4864.