Education is very important. If I didn’t go to school how could I upgrade my crèche? I’m still studying and I gain a lot, you can’t do anything if you don’t have someone to teach you the things you don’t know. I’m finishing level four and starting level 5 in July. Sometimes I complain ‘ooh my eyes I can’t see’, and the teacher at the college laughs at me and says ‘Vinolia this is not an old age home’ – she’s so nice, she says I’m very clever.

Vinolia’s story as told to Starting Chance

I was born in the Eastern Cape. My education was to Matric then I came to Cape Town to work. My first job was at the bank, I was a cleaner, and then they promoted me as an enquiry clerk, then I decided to get married. I met my husband at the gym. Then we went to Transkei to get married. You know the lobola story? It was five cows with R5000, and then I had two kids – boys – then twins and a girl. Thereafter, I worked at Sasol garage, I was a manager there. Actually I started as a cashier then they saw I was very clever and promoted me; I was a supervisor then a manager.

I was selling chips after I finished working at Sasol. Then, after that I dreamed while I was sleeping. My parents are passed away and my dad came to me and told me to be a sangoma, so I said OK daddy and then I woke up and I decided to do it. After you dream about being a sangoma, you must slaughter the goat. You make Xhosa beer and you call all your family because the ancestors talk to me only and tell me what to do. Then I’ve got the visions. I offer people help – if you say you didn’t sleep at night I can give you something, a bottle of medicine, then you can drink it and feel a difference.

After I finished doing my management in 2009 at Sasol, I became a secretary of a school. After the primary school where I was a secretary, I decided to open my own business because I could see I love the kids, I love the business. I started with five kids in my business of the crèche. It grew to 25, it grew to 55. I studied until now. And I love it, I still love it.

I wake up at five o’ clock. The first kids must come to me. I sing my Xhosa songs with them and they clap their hands and they call me ‘granny granny’. I also went for training so I can get more information about the ECD at North Link College and with Starting Chance. I’ve got four training certificates. I have 142 kids now, I love them and their parents.

I’m fine, I’m good, I’m healthy, that’s it. I’m looking forward for my crèche, and I’m looking forward for myself. During the day I’m at the crèche. During the weekends, I’m a sangoma. On the weekends, you can find me, we can go and dance. During the week don’t interrupt me, I’m very busy.

I don’t have material like mattresses, I don’t have tables. I keep fees low because you can see the environment where the families stay. You cannot overcharge people. I’m really struggling. I ask the parents to bring the mattresses the kids sleep on at home, but then they said at night what are they going to do?

Me and the other principals sit at my place and talk about how we can assist each other, our visions, how can we get to achieve our goal. We all put R500 into a stokvel and by doing this that money can help. Each month we contribute to a different teacher for whatever she needs. Even if you’re short on groceries for the kids, that can help.

We are the builders. I take the kids without money too. I take those kids in my crèche and I don’t ask for anything. Last week one child was picked up on the street; she was a girl, lost her mummy, and didn’t know where to find her. They bought her to me and I had to change her nappy, and I asked one of the teachers to wash and feed her. The parents came at 8 and fetched her and I told them off for being careless. I said, you must educate her and look after her. She was crying. I was looking for the family the whole day, I had the number of the police. I’ve had to call the police before when parents haven’t arrived to pick children up.

The community loves me because my hands are open. What can we do? Love the child as you love yourself. Respect the child. They have their own rights.