“We are not victims.” Taking responsibility for the futures of 20 000 children
Martha Makhura has tenderness written into the lines of her palms. At her crèche in Gugulethu, there are 160 children in her charge. Entering as tiny toddlers, they flourish under her watchful eye until they’re ready for primary school. The quality of care a child receives in the early stages of their life has a profound impact on their cognitive development. But not every child has equal access to learning resources. “Foundation Phase education is one of the main challenges in South Africa,” Makhura says. With building blocks and colourful books, she’s ending the crisis.
“When I started coming here, there were no crèches,” Makhura says. “The children were just roaming around.” She couldn’t let her three little ones face the same fate. “I knew I had to do something,” Makhura says. After completing a diploma in Early Childhood Development, she established a crèche from a shack. Makhura began with 10 children, but word soon spread of her dedication and positive impact. The number of learners under her wing kept increasing. So Makhura took over an abandoned church to house her ever-growing family.
Makhura’s pre-school has now been running for over two decades. With the help of donors and several caretakers, more than 20 000 children have passed through her doors. Affectionately called Mama Martha, she provides children in her community with the chance to reach their potential. “We are not victims,” Makhura asserts. Helping others thrive starts by following your heart.