Western Cape Provincial Legislature deputy speaker and constituency head for the Helderberg region, Beverley Schäfer, and Shandana Gulzar Khan, chair of the Commonwealth Women’s Parliament and member of Parliament for Pakistan, recently visited two projects specifically related to women in the Helderberg: Masikhule and Helderberg Baby Saver.
Masikhule is an NPO founded by Léanne Keet, an occupational therapist, in 2005. They train women from marginalised communities in early childhood development (ECD), with an emphasis on mentorship, early intervention and building up resources for the ECD centres these women teach in.
The parliamentarians paid a visit to Great Beginning Pre-school in Asanda Village, to see first-hand what a difference well-trained teachers and a holistic ECD programme makes, and then visited Masikhule’s teachers’ early learning resource library. Over 30 ECD centres have access to the resources in this library, which gives them access to theme bags, educational games and toys, posters, fantasy corner items, as well as computers, wifi and printing facilities.
“I wanted to sshowcase some of the projects working with women and young children, how we bridge the divide and give young children the opportunity to catch up. I welcome what is being done in partnership with NGOs and organisations such as Masikhule.
“It is important to empower women like Naomi, principal of Great Beginnings, the pre-school that we visited. It is essential work that is being done in the early childhood development phase in the Helderberg region, and I was very proud to bring the head of the Commonwealth Women’s Parliament and member of Parliament for Pakistan to come and view these projects,” said Ms Schäfer.
Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver and marketing and communications manager for Masikhule, and Léanne Keet, founder of Masikhule and a responder for the Helderberg Baby Saver, also took the dignitaries to see the Helderberg Baby Saver and demonstrated how the unit works.
The Helderberg Baby Saver is situated in the wall of Choices Crisis Pregnancy Centre and can be used to anonymously hand over a new-born baby as a last resort, rather than a baby being dumped. Visit www.babysaver.co.za for more details.
“It is always so uplifting to meet women who are dedicated to empowering women, and to share ideas and experiences from different perspectives, countries and cultures,” said Ms Immelman.
“We thoroughly enjoyed the visit. What a privilege to meet influential people who are genuinely interested in what we are doing to address some of the challenges in our local community.”