Jireh Community Projects is more than a school; it’s a team seeking to change the future, and Mitchells Plain – the third most crime-ridden area in South Africa – could do with some hope.
In 1989, James Louw – a local minister – started the project, hoping to shield the young of Mitchells Plain from the evils that threatened them on every corner. Today, the centre cares for nearly 200 children who come from every kind of background; from the loved to the forgotten, the uplifted to the downtrodden.
What sets Jireh apart from other crèches and day-cares in the area is twofold: Firstly, they don’t only concern themselves with children. Rather, they see children for what they are: parts of family units, and therefore take an active interest in their students’ home lives. You take on a child, you take on a whole family, Manager and Owner Janice Erasmus will tell you. Social workers in the area have overflowing desks, which means that it is often up to Jireh to take on the role of active protector.
A second factor that sets Jireh wholly above the rest is that they aim to not only love and nurture, but entirely prepare children for school and eventual adulthood. Janice and her qualified team of 23 work to not only shield their students from their surroundings, but help them to build foundations so that they might one day transform them.
Though they are a non-profit organization, what Jireh offers closely resembles a private pre-school education. Their students, who are at the centre from 6:30 to 17:30 every day, are provided with three nutritious meals daily. These are interspersed with an array of activities and learning programs.
The team considers themselves lucky to not only have their own premises, but to have been given land from the City of Cape Town to expand their project. The dream is to build another school on these grounds (so as to not have to continue to turn prospective students away) but Janice admits that they are far from achieving this goal and will need additional funding for it to realise.
Educational toys and outside toys