On Mandela Day, teams from different companies will join forces to paint eight shipping containers, which will become a much-needed crèche in the informal settlement, Woodlane Village – commonly referred to as Plastic View – in Moreleta Park, Pretoria.
Big Box Containers, a South African company that specialises in container sales, rentals and conversions, is partnering with SA Cares for Life, GROOTfm and other sponsors to help build this Early Development Centre for pre-schoolers.
The settlement began in 2007, when a group of people living in a nearby field came together to build on the land. Despite on-going legal battles over occupation of the land, the settlement continued to grow.
By 2016, it included 3000 registered residents and 865 shacks – and today, it’s estimated that more than 7000 residents are living on the eight hectares of land.
The community includes hundreds of children below the ages of six. Due to poverty and lack of formal infrastructure, many of these children lack proper nutrition, healthcare, schooling and even access to basic sanitation.
Sanet Fagan, managing director of SA Cares for Life, says the activities on Mandela Day will mark the beginning of a school that will provide the children of Plastic View with education, food, safety, water and sanitation. Crime is a major concern for people living in the village and the surrounding communities, she says. “Studies have shown that children who don’t receive an education between three and four are more likely to be involved in criminal activity. By giving these children an education, we empower them to make better moral decisions.”
With ongoing discussion about possible relocation of the village, using containers to build the school makes sense. If a final decision to move the people of Woodlane Village is made, the school can be moved too, says GROOTfm project manager, Lindie Strydom.
Willie Mouton, a director of Big Box Containers, says the company got involved after he was approached by GROOTfm’s marketing manager, Luané Janse Van Rensburg. “I was driving in a Big Box branded bakkie and this woman came running after me. I was quite concerned as I thought she’d been injured, so I immediately stopped. It was then that she handed me a business card and told me they needed a sponsor for the containers.”
The eight containers, valued at R282 000, have already been converted by Big Box Containers. To be suitable for use as a school, however, they need to be insulated, which is expensive. Two other sponsors, SSG Consulting and ATTBuild, have donated R100 000 each to cover the costs.
Other companies have also joined the initiative, with sponsorship from Nancefield Auto Paints, Ecsponent Limited, VDT Attorneys and SPAR Northrand. Altogether, eight teams will meet on Mandela Day to colour in outlined drawings on the containers, kicking off an initiative in keeping with this year’s Mandela Day theme, #ActionAgainstPoverty.
However, this is only the first phase.
“We still need to equip the school with furniture, as well as items such as mattresses, cups, plates and educational material,” says Fagan. Sufficient funding to cover operational costs, including salaries for teachers, is also needed.
The project aims to create several jobs for women living in Plastic View. SA Cares for Life has prepared a shortlist of women it would like to train as educators and care-givers. “This way the project changes the destiny of not only the children, but the women who are employed at the school,” says Fagan.
The aim is to deliver the containers to Plastic View by August, with official set-up of the school in September or October. Training for the women workers is planned for November to December.
However, reaching these targets depends on whether all building and operational budget requirements are met, says Fagan.
Companies that want to help with donations can contact Fagan at SA Cares for Life.