In 2008, as our work in an Eastern Cape village called Hamburg was coming to an end, an acquaintance led us to an even more rural area of the Eastern Cape north of the Kei River called Canzibe. After commissioning a household survey in the area to identify orphans and vulnerable children and assess their needs, 25:40 co-founder Alec Zacaroli landed on Canzibe Mission. Burdened by the needs of the 1,540 orphans and vulnerable children identified in the survey, he introduced himself to the new pastor on the mission, Wikus van der Walt and his wife Carina. They too had arrived in Canzibe with the calling to reach orphans, and we have partnered together ever since.
Spurred by the needs of the orphans and vulnerable children identified in the survey, 25:40 and Canzibe Mission launched an afterschool care program in June 2011. We work with the two local primary schools to help identify the OVC’s in most need. Each year, the Canzibe aftercare program typically serves 60 children. They come to the mission after school and receive a healthy meal, academic enrichment, health monitoring, life-skills training, and government advocacy. At the core of the program is teaching the Gospel.
The aftercare program gives these most vulnerable children a safe place to be after school and one-on-one nurturing they do not receive at school or at home.
To ensure our OVC database is up-to-date, 25:40 staff members conduct home visits several times a week throughout the Ngqeleni District. Each year, the staff visits hundreds of homes. We check up on the families of the students in our aftercare program and identify other orphans and vulnerable children.
We often come across families eligible for government services but are not getting them. We work with the government agencies to ensure these families obtain birth certificates and other identifying documents needed to receive the government services. During our home visits we sometimes find families in desperate need of food or clothes, and we offer emergency parcels in those circumstances.
If appropriate and welcome, 25:40 staff members also share the Gospel with those who do not know Jesus and pray with everyone. Being the hands and feet of Jesus is at the heart of our work.
25:40 also operates the Masonwabe Preschool on the mission, and over the years invested in the teachers so that they get professional training in early childhood development and we improved our curriculum, classroom management and reporting systems. In 2017, under the leadership of 25:40 Education Manager Kholiswa Masiso, we applied for and received accreditation from the South African Education Department as an approved early childhood development center.
The Masonwabe Preschool has 20 children in the 3-4 year-old class and 20 children in the Grade R class. We often hear from teachers at the two nearby government primary schools that the Masonwabe children are better prepared for learning than students who did not attend our preschool. Our former students also perform higher on exams in primary school.