Ditshego was registered as a non-profit organization in 2007. Ditshego serves the community of Mooiplaas, an informal settlement of 20,000 people situated in Centurion and is a ministry of West View Methodist Church. The settlement was formed around 15 years ago around one of the major household refuse dumping sites in Centurion. The community has, to this day, no access to the basic services like running water, electricity, sanitation or health care. Unemployment is at very high levels and many eke out an existence by finding value in what other people discarded on the dump.
The primary focus of Ditshego centers on the Ditshego Pre-School whose aim is to create an early childhood development environment for the children from the Mooiplaas community – unlocking their full potential and giving them the same start as their more privileged peers. There are currently 140 children between the ages of 3 and 6 that attend the pre-school in a formalized class environment that spans Grade 000, Grade 00 and Grade R. The children receive a nutritional breakfast and a cooked lunch on a daily basis. A significant and ongoing effort is going into raising the level of teaching and organizational skills of the teachers and the principal.
While the mental developmental and nutritional needs of the children are being attended to in the school, there is a dire need for even the most basic of primary healthcare interventions in an environment that is decidedly unhealthy to live in.
While parents do contribute to the funding of the operating expenses through a monthly school fee the school is largely donor funded through donations and volunteering.
The preschool also provides a base from which various Community Empowerment Projects are launched under the auspices of Ditshego. An after care centre was also recently launched for 70 primary school children. This creates a safe and supervised environment for the children to do their homework as well as receive a nutritional meal.
The socio-economic situation in the community leads to several instances of child abuse and neglect. Ditshego – House of Laughter was created to provide care for up to eight vulnerable, orphaned and abandoned children in a safe home environment.”
Isabels journey with Ditshego
I qualified as a Social Worker in 1984. My first experience in an Informal Settlement was in 1996. I worked in an area where you could see taxis being burnt next to the road but at the same time I experienced kind assistance when I had a flat tire or was in need.
I realised how limited the resources for counselling and other assistance were in some communities that were dealing with many difficulties.
My journey with Ditshego started in 2007 when I had the privilege to place 3 children in the Place of Safety who were in need of care.
Did I know that they will grow from 3 to 350 children? Definitely not.
Did I think I could be instrumental in the growth? Never.
I was called but not equipped and I had to learn about every aspect of the projects, regulations, funding possibilities etc. It was a difficult but rewarding journey.
Every year when more children and projects were added it was daunting. The responsibility and financial burden became more but with my Faith and the support of many volunteers and sponsors that have helped me to continue, we are so grateful.
I have seen so many miracles, so many children and adults lifes being changed in the past 10 years and it has been absolute Grace.
I wish every skilled person will just spend 3 hours a month teaching someone else their skills.
We can change the world one person at a time.