We are dreamers, we are believers and together we can make dreams realities.
I grew up in Johannesburg with my family. My mom a kind-hearted lady, and Gogo and Meme – two ladies who have worked for my family for 30 years and counting. Watching them interact and the kindness amongst the three of them, impacted me from a young age. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way.
In 2014 I visited an Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) in Alexandra, Johannesburg. I saw one teacher watching over 40 children in a tiny, unsafe and cold space which they used as their classroom. We spent the morning together and the children lavished in the attention from all the visiting volunteers. After this adventurous and emotional visit, I went to my cousin’s house, there I sat with ten adults giving all their attention to one child. I found it heartbreaking and hard to fathom that the children at the school would grow up in an environment with limited love and care and in such bad conditions. These children also spend more time in their ‘classroom’ than they do at home, with many of these early childhood development centers opening at 6am and closing at 6pm.
The first 1000 days of a child’s life are the most significant. It is in these important moments that we learn to talk, walk, dance and play. It is then that we learn to love and care for ourselves and for others. This is the foundation phase and the foundation of whom we grow up to become. How do you expect a child to love when he receives little of it growing up?
Do you believe that we cross paths with certain people for certain reasons? I DO.
In 2016 I was casually walking in a park when I approached a lady named Nwabisa, she was there with her school Masibulele Educare Centre. Being interested in early childhood development I gave her my number not knowing what would come of it. Weeks passed and Nwabisa called me. I was inspired by Nwabisa for taking the initiative and agreed to visit the school the following day. Here is a lesson I live by that has prevailed ‘If you never ask, you’ll never know’. As I walked into Masibulele I felt a connection, I could see they were trying their very best even though the building was in a really bad condition. I realised that even with all the educational materials they had, the children could not learn effectively as the space was unsafe.
Close your eyes and imagine you have your textbooks, stationery and the requirements you need to learn BUT the room you are sitting in is either:
- Too hot for you to focus
- Too cold for you to think straight
- Too dark for you to read without strain
This is often coupled with a hungry belly and no one at home to help you after school with homework. I know I wouldn’t be able to concentrate… Would you?
And so the journey began, one day at time, trying to figure out the rules, regulations and the right team to be part of this project, to rebuild Masibulele Educare Centre.
Masibulele Educare Centre has been open since 1995. It started with 3 children and there are now 110. Government funding was withheld, as the structure did not meet minimum requirements. Our only sustainable solution was to therefore rebuild Masibulele so they could regain funding and continue to provide these children with love, education and guidance.
Our goal was to raise 1.5 million rand. Proudly we have done so and are now in the process of building a safe structure, which will be complete in the next two months. Not only will this structure provide a space for the teachers and children to grow, but it will be a place which will motivate others to keep dreaming and striving for success. We are creating a holistic space where creativity and imagination can flow.
Through this experience I have started a social enterprise, as together we can create positive change if we share our little bit of kindness. The company LivCurious is committed to creating sustainable change by implementing innovative solutions through our social project and events management services. We provide sustainable Corporate Social Investment “CSI” across a broad range of sectors, which can be tailored to our client’s vision and strategy for long lasting impact.
Take chances, always ask questions. Believe in your DREAM and others will too.
Being part of the Mensch Network and connected to a community of other Jewish social changemakers all making a difference in areas where they are passionate, has provided me with valuable networking opportunities, encouragement and support.
Should you wish to visit Masibulele before or after the completion of the rebuild, please email me Olivia Krok at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join our journey and follow the progress of the project on Facebook and Instagram, on my personal account Olivia Krok and on Letsbuildmasibulele.
Words by Olivia Krok