I love to see the preschool children graduating to go to school. Some of the children that we are teaching are now working or are in the universities. Some of the schools phoned us when our children started Grade R to thank us for the good job we’re doing – they said the children are brilliant. You become very excited when you get a call like that telling you you’re doing a good job. That makes you strong and anxious to do more, you know? To be trained and to love the children more because you know you are building the future of this child by developing this child holistically. It is the future of the child you’re building.

Marjory’s story (as told in an interview with Starting Chance)

I was born in Cape Town in 1959, but in 1963 my parents went back to the Eastern Cape, behind Umtata because it was the beginning of the Apartheid. They were forced to move from Retreat; others were placed in Langa and Gugulethu, but my mother decided to go straight home to East London – my father stayed in Langa. We went home and I went to school in Umtata from Sub A to Standard 6. Due to financial problems, my mother sent me to my father in Cape Town and I started doing my Matric in a high school at a boarding school in 1976. In 1979, I went to Johannesburg to look for work.

I found it very difficult. I passed my Matric and I did typing, but work was difficult because of Apartheid. I was qualified but I didn’t have the documents that were needed in those days. I suffered a lot. I decided to go to look for work in the kitchens. It was difficult. If you were looking for work and you were hired the policemen would come and ask for your documents. It was a travel document for me because I didn’t have the dompas. When they noticed that you have this travel document they chased you out of the place where you were working, even if it was a kitchen.

Luckily for me I did get a job in a kitchen. Then my father decided to make an ID for me. So I got the ID and started to look for work. I worked as a secretary in Johannesburg. It was 1991. Earlier, I got married; I met my husband in Cape Town while I was a student. I left Cape Town and left him there. But because we’re meant to be together, we met up in Joburg and he proposed.

My firstborn was born in 1982. All together, I had two girls and three boys. Then we moved to Cape Town and I started looking for work – it was still difficult. I decided to start studying ECD. I first worked as a volunteer at a crèche then I started my Level One, Two and Three qualifications at Grass Roots, while I was volunteering. I started working with children and realised how much I love them. Then we went back to Queenstown for seven years; my husband was a pastor there. Then in 2006 we came back. And when I came here there was this building where we have our crèche now. It was a voting station that was given to us by the City of Cape Town. That’s when I started to work at my school.

It was difficult in the beginning; I started with five children and one teacher. We were both teaching; I was helping with the older children and she was dealing with the babies. And I was also cooking. That lady left me in 2007, and I was alone looking after 25 kids. I woke up very early in the morning to go to the school, cook porridge and teach them.

Parents don’t want to pay fees if they don’t have money. They just take the child out the school and take her to another preschool. Even though some of them get grants they don’t want to pay for their children’s education, so their children stay home and they use the money for other things.  It’s very sad. You’ll go passed the house and the child is sitting there alone. The mother is at work; she’s getting a social grant for that child but she doesn’t want to pay. So often I’ll go to that parent and say please bring the child even if you don’t have money.  We are facing the challenge of looking after the children whose parents are sometimes not working or single – it’s difficult for these parents to pay. So we ask them to bring the children anyway because our concern is the development of the child, and the future of the child.

My dream is to build a new centre and enrol grade 1 to 5 students. My dream is to have a private school, and to start with grade 1 and 2 and then see how things happen. That’s why I’m carrying on studying – I’m doing a diploma now at False Bay College.  Another dream is to train other teachers. What I’ve noticed is how the preschool teachers are teaching the children. They don’t have the foundational basics of ECD. I’ve noticed they need more education; more knowledge about the child. I want to study and then after I’ve passed I want to go to the Eastern Cape to train the ladies there so they can lay a solid foundation for children. Loving only, while not developing the child means nothing. So you must be educated for the sake of their future.

I advise women to go to school to further their education, because you can’t open any door without education; education is the key to opening all doors.