It was a joyous and momentous occasion when locally-based NGO Community Keepers opened its first office in Kayamandi at Makupula Secondary School on Thursday 4 March.
Established in 2008, the organisation provides professional support services to children, teachers and parents at community-based schools in the Cape Winelands and Cape Town.
It has 45 practitioners – social workers, psychologists and registered counsellors – based at 27 under-resourced schools across Cape Town and the Winelands.
Makwezi Maliwa, Circuit Manager of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), thanked Community Keepers for opening offices at various schools in Stellenbosch and Cape Town.
“Community Keepers is doing wonderful work,” he said. “Sometimes our learners have social and psychological problems, which makes it difficult for teachers to pay attention to those learners.
“When you have people such as Community Keepers it just helps a lot in terms of assisting those learners. The WCED doesn’t have money to place social workers and psychologists in every school.
“Especially in the poorer communities, it is very important to have a social worker and a psychologist around.”
Annetjie Louw is on the board of Community Keepers, and has been in the education field for 42 years.
She echoed Maliwa’s sentiments. “Every child has a box on their head, and tomorrow another box, and another box, and another box. Whether sad or good, they have to deal with it.”
She said further: “So Community Keepers is working with the precious mindset of a child. Every child who throws a tantrum does so for a reason. I have learnt that we cannot solve that within one day. It’s not a sore spot you can put a plaster on.
“It’s a long process, and Community Keepers is that process. It’s difficult because whatever you solve today at school the children go home, and it opens up again. They then should be able to come back (to Community Keepers) and try to get the boxes off.”
Community Keepers gets its funding from various businesses and other sources to fund its offices and the staff it deploys to schools.
Remgro, for instance, sponsored the offices and Community Keepers staff at Makupula Secondary School.
Cheryl Farao of Remgro said at the opening ceremony it is very proud of the school’s matric results for the past four years and especially last year (94,4%).
“I can seriously tell you this is the school you want to be with and share your time with. I think Makupula has dynamic leadership and commitment. We hope with the opening of the office that you will achieve much more and that learners will feel comfortable, at home, loved and that they will feel this is the place they can go to.”
According to Farao, everyone wants to see good results, in terms of learners flourishing in their education, but there are also little things that need attending to.
“Community Keepers are catching some of those little things,” she said. “So I really hope learners will come and enjoy the time they spend within that space that Community Keepers have created.”
V In the same week Community Keepers also opened offices at Dalubuhle Primary, Wemmershoek Primary and Franschhoek High – all in Franschhoek.
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