When educator Charles B. Mphambo came from his native Eastern Cape to the Free State town of Rouxville in the late eighties, he wasn’t expecting paradise, and paradise wasn’t what he got. Political turmoil threaded through the streets, and saw civilians – many of them children – being teargassed and harassed on the streets.
With no form of day-care around, this put many young children right in the line of fire. So, Charles called a parents’ meeting seeking financial support and the go-ahead, but only received the second. Anything but a defeatist, he continued with his plans, getting donors as he went, and on the 21st of April 1995 Lesedi “La” Mphambo opened its doors for the first time.
These days, Charles and his team of 7 don’t have teargas to worry about, but their worries are far from over. Their new set of hurdles all sprout from one place: poverty. The unemployed and the children alike are completely devoid of adequate stimulation, which has led to alcohol abuse, violent crimes, and teenage pregnancy.
So, the centre remains a haven to its 136 beneficiaries, who range from ages 0 to 6. It is where the youngest of Rouxville come and learn how to be human, and the team does their very best to make sure that they become the best ones possible. The kind of adults that might one day transform Rouxville.
The centre has gone from providing simple safety to being one of the best ECD centres in the province.
Though Lesedi “La” Mphambo’s very basic needs are covered by school fees and government subsidies, they still struggle most months, which makes it impossible to focus on further projects. The dream is to add an extra floor to their current premises, where a computer centre might be established to set in motion computer literacy in Rouxville.
For this, Charles has already drawn up plans, but lacks funding and qualified IT educators in order for it to realize.