Solid foundations for Lekkerbekkies

Eldene Pieterson, Tamara Speil, Florencia Alfestus, Leemo Smith, Merle Hölter and Isabelle Oswald, and in front, are Jaylin Gelant, Mc Kenzi Alloys, Ejay Smith and Clayton Pretorious.

Lekkerbekkies Pre-School in Rusthof, Strand, celebrated the opening of its new building on Friday May 10.

In 2009 Florencia Alfestus realised there was a need for quality early learning opportunities in her Rusthof community.

She established Lekkerbekkies – an early childhood development (ECD) centre. She and her staff attended training with Masikhule to ensure a holistic and stimulating programme was in place for the pre-school children in their care.

Operating with two dedicated teachers, the ECD centre grew in numbers, but space was always an obstacle in terms of long-term sustainability.

This all changed in 2017 when three German architectural students – Merle Hölter, Isabelle Oswald and Tamara Speil – from the University of Stuttgart were introduced to Ms Alfestus by Bernd Holtkamp and Britta Belz of Golden Sunbeams e.V.

The three students were inspired to start Bau Raum Afrika to manage the project of providing more solid foundations for Lekkerbekkies, as they could see the potential there.

Initially funds were raised for the construction of a new kitchen, with the ultimate aim of providing nutritious meals in a hygienic environment for the children attending the ECD centre. The three women travelled from Germany and spent their summer holiday on site, working together with local tradesmen to complete construction of the new kitchen in February last year.

Through Masikhule’s partnership with JAM SA, the children at Lekkerbekkies receive a fortified porridge every day, from the new kitchen. Hygiene, food preparation, storage and serving have all been improved, which is beneficial to the pupils.

Inspired by the impact that the kitchen had on both the pre-school and the surrounding community, the trio made plans to design a new classroom that could accommodate 30 children.

They returned to South Africa in December last year and together with local craftsmen, electricians, plumbers and architects, the Bau Raum Afrika and Golden Sunbeam teams replaced the wooden shack that served as a classroom with a new building, with two classrooms, plenty of cupboard space and new ablution facilities.

Ms Alfestus and her staff commented that they are immensely grateful to all involved and are looking forward to teaching in a far more conducive environment.

Masikhule mentor, Karen Bufé, attended the opening ceremony and added Masikhule’s thanks to the three students who have driven this project from start to finish, Bernd and Britta of Golden Sunbeams, the various donors, and all who have made this upgrade possible.

She added that early childhood development is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty and having such a wonderful investment is very gratifying as it will have an ongoing positive impact on the children from this community.

This upgrade will also ensure that Lekkerbekkies is one step closer to becoming registered with the Department of Social Development.