From humble beginnings to an organised and flourishing education facility, the Vulingqondo Crèche, which is situated in the Bethania rural community of the Ugu district municipality, celebrated a record number of ‘young graduates’ on the 28th of November. This can be attributed to the commitment of Lonza Wood Protection and the passion of its staff, who for nearly eleven years have dedicated their time and resources to caring for the needs of the Crèche and its children.
The traditional annual Graduation Ceremony is the highlight of the calendar for the Lonza team, who clear their work schedule and spend the day with the children to celebrate this milestone in their lives. This year the little ‘graduates’ were treated to an exciting excursion at Pure Venom Reptile Park in Shelley Beach, followed by lunch and then the highlight of the day – the graduation ceremony where they received their well-earned certificates. Not forgetting those not yet graduating, Lonza also arranged for Father Christmas to pay a special visit to the Crèche to hand out gifts and a KFC lunch to each child.
“Seeing the joy in the children’s faces and their sense of pride and achievement, makes this project a privilege to be a part of. Through our involvement, we have been able to give back to the community by improving the Crèche facility and thereby making it possible for the number of learners to grow over the years. Approximately 114 children enrolled this year and we are very proud to see 34 graduating to primary school compared to 22 in 2016. This is nearly a 55% increase in young learners benefitting from education in our local rural community,” said Doug Sayce, Lonza’s general manager.
Over and above donations such as of computers, stationery, meals and a vegetable garden, Lonza has also made a substantial contribution to the extension of the building to accommodate more learners. In 2010 an extra classroom was built and in 2014 the bathroom was extended to accommodate six new toilets and two wash basins. With the surplus building materials, another adjoining room was built onto the kitchen to serve as a pantry.
When the need arose again this year for more classrooms, and the local government was unable to assist with funding, Lonza stepped in once again and donated a 9.6m x 3m pre-fabricated unit in July. The logistics of moving the fully assembled unit was a challenge in itself as the Crèche is situated a fair distance off the tar road. The dirt road was so narrow in some places that the team had to clear the bush the day before, and then on the day still navigate low hanging telephone and electricity cables before this abnormal load could reach its final destination.
When the unit arrived, the teachers were overwhelmed and there were tears of joy from the Grade R teacher as this meant that she could focus her uninterrupted attention on preparing her learners for primary school in their own separate building.
The achievements of these learners is testament to the positive impact that Lonza’s devotion is having on creating an environment that is conducive to learning, thereby making it possible for them to reach their full potential.
“We believe that caring for our community is an important part of being an industry leader, and we look forward to many more years of creating sustainable value through an education facility that has formed a foundation for the children’s future schooling career,” concluded Sayce.