Lonwabo Special Care Day Centre

Introducing Lonwabo Special Care Day Centre

Lonwabo Special Care Day Centre in Mfuleni is managed by Principal Thandeka Mafila.

Thandeka embarked on her calling to care for, and educate, children with profound and severe physical and mental disabilities after hearing an inspirational interview on the radio in 2008 by Lindela in Khayelitsha. Her plea for someone to reach out and help special needs children in Mfuleni touched Thandeka’s heart – it was her defining moment. Read more about Thandeka here.

From these humble beginnings, Lonwabo Special Care Day Centre grew into a facility that at one point lovingly catered for 38 children between 0 and 18 years of age. Sadly, as regulations have become more stringent the Department of Social Development and the Health Department have progressively reduced the registered capacity down to 28 children.

Lonwabo is the only centre of its kind in Mfuleni and the poverty-stricken communities surrounding Mfuleni. As a result, the demand for places remains very high.

The Impact of Covid-19

Covid has not been kind to Thandeka – in July 2019 Thembasile, her husband, passed away. It has been a tough journey. Covid regulations have now reduced the capacity to 12 children.
For the parents of those who can no longer attend this is a devastating blow as they struggle to return to work or seek new employment opportunities. For Lonwabo it has further eroded the financial viability, making the delivery of the new facility even more urgent. The future depends on it!

Preparing the Lonwabo Team

Starting Chance began implementing a specifically designed training and development programme for the Lonwabo team in February 2019, shortly before Covid-19 struck. The initial sessions went very well, and people were excited to be learning new skills. In March, when the national Lockdown was imposed everything came to an abrupt end. Covid-permitting, we are hoping to resume the programme early in 2021.

Purchasing the Land and Finalising the Design

After several months delay due to the Covid-19 Lockdown the purchase of erf 11410 in Mfuleni by the Starting Chance Trust was concluded at the end of November 2020. The acquisition of the land together with the provision of utility connections will add approximately R1Million to the project cost.
The design has therefore been further optimised to reduce the cost of construction whilst ensuring the facility will be fit-for-purpose and that regulations for registration will be met.

HAGS Donation Gets 2021 off To a Great Start

As we ready ourselves for a final push to obtain planning approval and begin construction we are delighted to announce that HAGS, one of the world’s leading outdoor play manufacturers, has donated specially designed equipment for Lonwabo to promote inclusive play. This is a most exciting development as children using it will benefit greatly from a developmental perspective whilst having lots of fun.

Funds Still Needed and How You Can Help

During 2019 and 2020 a number of new donors decided to contribute to the Lonwabo Project, which meant that we reached the target required to initiate construction of part of the planned Lonwabo facility with capacity for 40 to 45 children.

Fortunately we were able to secure the construction cost prior to the end of 2020.

Unfortunately the City of Cape Town has applied an escalation clause to the delay in transfer caused by the Covid-19 Lockdown when the Deeds Office was closed. Consequently this increased the cost of the land by R77 764.

Land invasions during the pandemic also left us no choice but to secure the property with 24/7 security patrols prior to construction commencing.

As a result of the above, together with extraordinary increases in the cost of steel that South Africa is experiencing, Starting Chance now needs to raise approximately R300 000 in order to cover these unplanned expenditures. It is anticipated that utility connections will cost a further R100 000.

During the last quarter of 2020 a team led by an occupational therapist put an inventory of equipment together that will be needed to equip the new Lonwabo facility. Although pricing the items is difficult due to the customised nature of the various devices, it is estimated that the provision of the basics will require approximately R100 000.
If you would like to contribute to making the Lonwabo Special Needs Day Care Centre a reality please click here https://startingchance.org.za/take-action/ to donate.