Elizabeth (Lizzy) Monyela is the founder of Thuthuzela Aid Community Centre. She worked as a child minder in various places from 1999 to 2004 the last of which was Acres of Love, a Place of Safety in Bryanston. By then Lizzy’s passion for taking care of abandoned and neglected children knew no boundaries. Coupled with the pain of seeing children being neglected in her community, she also carries the heartache of losing her son, Julius (who suffers from Down’s syndrome). Her deep need to make a difference inspired her to found Thuthuzela. Thus began Lizzy’s dream in 2005. To date she has faced many challenges keeping the home operational and trying to accommodate the children that are constantly brought to her care.
REALISING HER DREAM
The number of abused, needy, disabled and HIV/AIDS infected children in South Africa continues to grow everyday due to factors such as teenage pregnancy, poverty, crime etc. Awareness about HIV/AIDS is no longer the only issue; the high rate of teenage pregnancy leads to increased number of vulnerable and infected children.
In this context, Thuthuzela Aid Community Centre has opened its doors to Alexandra’s needy children. The centre operates as a Day Care as well as place of safety.
The Day Care facility is open to children from a few months old to six years of age. Most of these children come from financially disadvantaged families. Our staff is doing its best to give the children a basic foundation on education and the most undivided attention to the babies. At the moment there are forty-one children benefiting from the facility. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided every day.
Thuthuzela is still a work in progress. The building we occupy was initially meant to be a temporary shelter. Six years later we are still here sharing the place with other tenants. Twenty-five orphans are now sleeping in the same room, sharing only one bathroom. We are in urgent need of a new home with enough rooms and indoor / outdoor space.
Our day care, run within the same premises, is also affected by this lack of space. Presently, Forty-one children have to share the same garage area. We would love to have proper classrooms, toilet facilities and play areas.
The building is currently for sale and our greatest fear is that should the house be purchased by someone, we would be evicted. We cannot afford to buy it ourselves nor would it be possible for us to cover the heavy renovation costs required.
Transport for school children is also another challenge. We presently rely on taxis which is costly and in most cases unreliable. Going to clinics, Courts, governmental agencies, grocery shopping and donation collection is also problematic. Having our own transport would assist greatly in the accomplishment of all these tasks.
Last but not least we would like to hire more qualified staff. At the moment, we are struggling with a shortage of helpers and care givers as we are not able to pay them decently.