At the official opening of the revamped Good Hope Early Learning Centre in Masakhane in mid-July, Overstrand's Executive Mayor Dudley Coetzee was treated to a hearty welcome by around 94 pre-schoolers and 12 enthused staff members who were overjoyed at being afforded a special place where the foundation for development during a child’s early development years can be laid.
The centre is based at the old primary school in Masakhane, a neighbourhood of Gansbaai, and has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2013.
Back then, local resident Lingiswa Nyandeni started the centre - which she called ‘Good Hope’ - in the back streets of Masakhane. At the time, Lingiswa cared for 15 young children in her own informal dwelling.
Not too long thereafter, the community, Overstrand Municipality, Flower Valley Conservation Trust’s early childhood development (ECD) programme and the Western Cape Department of Social Development joined hands with Lingiswa.
Jointly, they set out to address the needs of young children in Masakhane and to tackle the many challenges one faces on the ground, including meeting minimum standards for health and safety and affording sustainable access to quality ECD in marginalised rural areas.
Eventually, additional support from the municipality and the community made it possible for the Good Hope Centre to move to the school building.
In 2017, the centre received further support from I-Med Vision (a non-profit organisation) and the Grootbos Foundation. Last year, the abalone farming company operating in Gansbaai and Hermanus, Aqunion, also joined hands with the centre as a supporter of youth development in the area, in particular ECD.
Standing together toward equity and justice
At the time of the official opening of the revamped centre, Flower Valley’s ECD Programme Manager, Gabbi Cook, remarked that the story of Good Hope started even before there was a Masakhane.
“It started when the great-grandfathers and -mothers, grandfathers and -mothers, and fathers and mothers of these children stood together toward equity and justice in South Africa. Those people need to be honoured today.
“The story of Good Hope lives in the lives of the people who walked this road together: parents, teachers, the community, the municipality, NGOs such as Enlighten Education Trust, and many individuals and groups that made initial donations of funds and resources.
“This is a community-based school. It’s the fruit of many people’s hard work and dedication; it’s an expression of kindness and care, but is also an expression of the intrinsic right of young children to the best possible start in life,” Cook said.