Rays of Sunshine

MAMA Angel went to White City in Soweto to deliver nappies, cleaning materials and soft toys to the tiny tots at the Sunshine Association.

MAMA Angel went to White City in Soweto to deliver nappies, cleaning materials and soft toys to the tiny tots at the Sunshine Association.

The daycare facility caters for children with special needs, though other children are also cared for. There are 55 children from the age of 18 months to seven years at the centre.

Sunshine gets referrals for children who need early intervention from Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Westbury.

"We take in normal children in an inclusion programme so that the other children can learn from them. This also helps to sensitise normal children to disabilities," said Sunshine operations director Thando Ntulwana.

"Children are not frightened of disabilities and help those who use walkers. They also play with the babies. They are not discriminatory," she said.

The centre has an outreach programme manned by a family support worker. She visits children under 18 months old and maps out a programme for their parents to follow.

The children in the home-based programme may then be accepted at the centre when they reach 18 months.

Mama Angel was given a tour of the premises and met some of the children. The facility is well run, beautifully decorated, with professional staff who are passionate about their work and charges. There are normal classrooms, stimulation rooms and a beautiful toy library.

The library is run by Tsidi Bennie. It is also used by Grade Rs from a nearby primary school.

Bennie has boards that children who cannot speak can use to communicate their needs to staff. It is also used to train them in basics such as toilet visits.

"What makes us successful is the dedication of our staff. Some of them have been here for more than 10 years. They started out as parents, volunteers and were then trained to look after the children," she said.

The backyard has been converted into a food garden. Volunteers and parents grow vegetables for the children.

Cecilia Rathebe runs a youth and siblings project that hosts workshops on disabilities, sexual education and socialisation.

"We also prepare food parcels over weekends and holidays for those parents who cannot afford to feed their children. We raise funds through jumble sales.

"Thanks a million, million times to Sowetan for all you have done for us," Ntulwana said.

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