Vrygrond woman’s struggle to keep daycare centre open

Parents can’t afford to fund the facility with fees but an NGO is helping

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Photo of a woman and a row of sleeping children
Princess Gysman has converted her garage and most of her three-roomed house in Vrygrond into a daycare facility. Photo: Barbara Maregele

Princess Gysman has converted her garage and most of her three-roomed house in Vrygrond into a daycare facility to help working parents in the area.

“Most of the parents have small stalls along the road. They can’t afford to send their children to crèches. So I take them all in,” says Gysman.

When GroundUp visited Gysman’s home, more than 40 children under five years of age were lying side-by-side, some on mattresses on the floor in the converted garage, others on her bed. The youngest children shared a cot and a small mattress in a third room.

“I started looking after three children in 2012. In 2013, it grew to five children and then 14 later that year. By 2015, I was introduced to Janine and the organisation [Ukama Community Foundation] who came around and started bringing the children meals, clothes, books and others things to play with,” she says.

She says most of the parents struggle to make the monthly contributions, which range between R30 and R300 according to what they can afford. Instead of turning kids away, Gysman relies on donations to keep the doors open.

She gives the children two meals a day, toys for them to play with as well as educational materials. “I was paying for their food, nappies and toys out of my own pocket,” she says.

Gysman also offers to take the children to the local clinic for check-ups or if they are sick when parents are unable to get off work.

“It’s winter now and there are children who come here with holes in their clothes. Most of the parents in the area can’t afford to pay a lot of money for daycare so I take the children in because it’s safer here than on the streets,” she says. “The first two children arrive at about 5:45am and the last one is fetched just before 7pm,” she says. Gysman has recently taken in a full time person to help her care for the children.

Janine Roberts, managing director of the NPO Ukama Community Foundation, said that they were approached by people in and around Capricorn to assist the daycare facilities in the area. “We started collecting donations from businesses around Capricorn in 2014. That’s when we realised how big the need really was. We currently distribute the donations we collect, which includes food, blankets, toiletries and books for the children, to three crèches in the community.”

Roberts said donations to Ukama would be welcomed as Gysman was expecting more children during the winter months.

See the Ukama Foundation website. GroundUp takes no responsibility for donations made to the organisation.

TOPICS:  Civil Society Education

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