It's nine o'clock on a cloudy Thursday morning and the children have queued up in a form of a train while holding each other's backs to have their breakfast. They are singing "Haka Matorokisi,” a popular South African song meaning Join the Trucks Together. "We make them sing this song because they love it and it gives them enthusiasm to eat," said Lillian Theko, one of their teachers.
Today they are having Corn Flakes and warm milk for breakfast, and one of the teachers is helping them to wash their hands while the other teacher is handing out the bowls of their breakfast and directing them on where to sit and eat. They have different menus for their breakfast and lunch.
This is Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre situated in White City village within the Acornhoek area. It was established in 2019 by Xitsundzuxo Kgopotso Nyango. The name Tsundzukani was inverted from her name Xitsundzuxo, meaning Remember. Xitsundzuxo is a 31-year-old phenomenal woman who has so much love for children. "I started this school because I love children with all my heart," she said. "Seeing them all gathered here at school completes my life.”
The school accommodates children from five years of age and have 40 children in total. It opens from six o’clock in the morning until seven o’clock in the evening since some of the children's parents are working. Her vision about the school is to implement a modern lifestyle through education. "People from this community has been very supportive and I'm truly grateful for that," she said.
With that number of children attending the school, it's not easy to accommodate all of them in one class since it's only a two-roomed facility with a kitchen located at the far end of the yard. The other room or class is used as an office and a bedroom for the little infants. "There are so many things that we need here at the school," explained Xitsundzuxo.
"Water is one of the most needed," she continued. "We are fortunate enough to have met Mwana, who helped us to get the water tank and pipes," she added while walking towards the water tank that is installed at the corner of the premises. Mwana Bermudes is the representative of Plenty Canada, which is an organization that has helped other South Africans with water tanks and funds to underprivileged South Africans to further their studies.
Now they are doing it again for the Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre. They have donated the water tank, pipes that connect to the tank and from the tank to the flushing toilets. They also donated the bricks used to build two pit toilets, the toilet seats, basins, pipe drains, sewerage, and paint. All the maintenance costs were paid by Plenty Canada.
"We are truly grateful to Plenty Canada,” said Xitsundzuxo. “Now that we have something to store water when it rains, we will never run out of water because this tank is big enough to last us for a while," she said. She went on to express her gratitude to all the people who contributed to and participated in this project.
"I'm giving thanks to the builders, the plumber, the painter, and most of all, I'd love to thank my parents for encouraging me to follow my dreams, the teachers for giving all their best to the school. and my best friend Musa Makhubele for being there throughout the process of establishing this school," she concluded.
There are still other things that are needed to meet the needs of the growing school, such as additional structures that can house at least three classes, a dining hall where they can also hold their annual graduation ceremonies, a playground, sleeping room for the babies, beds, toys, food, fruits and vegetables. The list is endless, but they would appreciate any other donations to help them grow tremendously.
Projects like this are in line with Plenty Canada’s long-standing efforts in South Africa and southern Africa to improve the lives of rural and Indigenous peoples. Mwana Bermudes has been a longtime project manager in the region whose work has left a legacy of compassion combined with practical results.
Here is a list of the other wonderful people and partners who helped make the Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre possible.
Xitsundzuxo Kgopotso Nyango
She is the second born daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Nyango from Timbavati village around Acornhoek. She was born in 1990 and has three sisters. Her father is a retired teacher whilst her mother is a retired health worker (nurse). She started her pre-primary school level at Lumukisa private school and mid-primary school at Mugidi Primary school. She continued her high school level at Magwagwaza High School and went on to further her studies at Mopani South East TVET College in 2014 where she successfully completed her National Diploma in Public Management.
In addition, she has other qualifications such as a Diploma in Office Computing, Certificate in HIV/AIDS Counselling, SACE Certificate and certification as a Motivational Speaker. As a sophisticated woman, she worked in several places before she could open Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre. She worked at Khapama as a waitress, worked at Shoprite as a Till Packer, and also volunteered at South African Police Services as a data capturer.
In 2009, she got married to Mr. Chiloane who was a police officer. He passed away in 2018 and left her to be a widow at an early age. The passing of her husband left her shattered, but not blind-minded. In 2019, she stood up firm and established Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre through the support of her family, friends and Hungani Pre-school, which was already operating day care centres.
Her wish is to have a bigger premises, salaries to pay the volunteering teachers, and enough food, fruits and vegetables to feed the kids. She goes around to Bushbuckridge Supermarkets and asks for donations. Nonetheless, she is excited that the day care centre is operating very well.
Lillian is a 34-year-old teacher at Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre and she's from Casteel. She wanted to be a police officer when she was still a student, but life happened. She says she enjoys working at the day care centre and the founder (Xitsundzuxo Nyango) is a people's person. Her dedication to the day care centre sometimes causes her to sleep there since she stays far from the school.
Mercy is a 31-year-old mother of three and also a teacher at Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre. She said she saw her neighbors (as they all reside in White City) bringing their children to the school and she followed them. Little did she know she would become one of the teachers because the school had a shortage of volunteer teachers. She studied financial management at Mapulaneng TVET College, but could not finish her studies due to an ancestral calling that she was feeling. She then left and went to be trained to become a sangoma (traditional healer). After six months of training, she finally graduated from her ancestral calling and went back to her teaching duty at the school. She also wishes to complete her studies in financial management.
This 25-year-old teacher at Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre feels grateful that she's volunteering because it's hard to get employment these days. Rhandzu is a resident of White City village who studied her primary school level education at N'wa-Matsingela Primary school and did her secondary school level at Munghena High School. She went on to further her studies at Barberton TVET College located in Nelspruit, where she successfully completed her National Diploma in Public Management. She understands that working with children is very hard and knows the perfect way of handling them, which is through patience and perseverance. Her strong belief is that one day they'll also have monthly salaries since they are receiving none at the moment.
She is a 30-year-old mother of three who volunteers as a cleaner and a cooker. She said she saw Xitsundzuxo cleaning the school yard and she decided to help her.
These are childhood friends who went to Andova Primary school together and Moses Mnisi High School together, although in different grades. Everything they did and everywhere they went, they were together. Given Ngomane is a 32-year-old father of one and a builder. His co-worker is Surprise Mona, a 31-year-old father of three. Given wanted to be a lawyer and Surprise wanted to be a police officer. But those dreams didn't come true because of poverty. They were excited to be part of the Plenty Canada project at Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre because it proves to them that they are doing important work. They are also appreciated by Xitsundzuxo Nyango.
For Troy Sibuyi, plumbing is his passion. He is so in love with it and he does it perfectly and with pride. A 41-year-old married father of three, he is not just a plumber, but an experienced professional plumber. He studied plumbing at Indlela Training Centre in Benoni in Gauteng. He explained how much he loves his job and the reason he chose it is because he loves travelling.
He believes that being an entrepreneur runs in his family blood since his father was also an entrepreneur. He plans to pass on his plumbing skills to his son so that when he grows up, he'll know the channels of making money rather than having to look for employment.
Even though his schedule was tight, Troy managed to be part of the Plenty Canada project. He installed all the pipes to the water tank and the toilet pipe drains, which made him excited because he was doing it for the betterment of Tsundzukani Bright Eye's Day Care Centre.
— Antoinette Mhlanga is a 33-year-old Shangaan writer and mother of three boys living in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. She earned a three-year Human Resources Diploma from Ehlanzeni TVET College in Acornhoek.