Ritchie centre best in SA

2016-06-01 06:00
KRISTIEN BAHUMI of the Kagisho Day-care Centre in Ritchie won the Best Early Childhood Development Programme for children and babies with disabilities. From the left are Bahumi, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu (deputy minister of Social Development), Mashila Matlala (National Development Agency board member) and Thokozani Magwaza (acting deputy general: Department of Social Development). Photo: Supplied

KRISTIEN BAHUMI of the Kagisho Day-care Centre in Ritchie won the Best Early Childhood Development Programme for children and babies with disabilities. From the left are Bahumi, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu (deputy minister of Social Development), Mashila Matlala (National Development Agency board member) and Thokozani Magwaza (acting deputy general: Department of Social Development). Photo: Supplied

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KRISTIEN BAHUMI cannot stop raving about how the arrival of the minister of Public Enterprise, Lynne Brown, to deliver the promised brand-new building, brought good luck to her centre, the Kagisho Day-care Centre in Ritchie.

“That day (31 March) turned out to be a blessing throughout,” she said with emotion.

On that day, delegates of the National Development Agency (NDA) also arrived to assess her as a finalist for a national award for the Best Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme for children and babies with disabilities.

A few weeks later, the centre was crowned the overall winner.

This took place during the South African ECD Awards gala dinner held in Cape Town on Wednesday, 4 May.

Bahumi has been managing the centre, which was her brainchild, since its inception.

The programme at her centre accommodates children with intellectual and physical disabilities such as deaf children.

Bahumi’s centre has 28 children from birth to seven years.

“I can dedicate all my gratitude to God for fulfilling my purpose of finding a way to make the lives of the disabled children and their parents easier,” Bahumi said.

“Everyone has a purpose in life, and God has sent me to this one. I was not discou-raged when I heard the people asking how I would survive for so long with a salary of R1 600 per month.”

Announcing that she was also the Community Builder of the year in 2010, Bahumi says she keeps on telling everyone that she gives all her thanks to God, “as there is a reason why He has chosen this direction for me”.

Recalling the events of the day when she was assessed by the NDA, Bahumi described how hectic the day had been, as she was supposed to be hosting the minister at the same time.

“I remember how I felt a lump in my throat at the thought of not giving the minister the attention she deserved.

“I continued to be distracted and lost track during the assessment, but my interviewees kept on calming me down.

“I would at times ask out loud why this has to happen to me and how I can ask the minister for forgiveness – and the friendly ladies just laughed it off.”

She explained that she would use the prize money of R30 000 to buy much-needed learning material and to improve the centre.

“We were already planning on adding another temporary structure to the centre to make more space for the current number of children we have.

“There are supposed to be five children in a class in order for every child to get enough attention. They are special children and some need to be fed and changed.

“Some of them can take at least an hour to feed.”

The centre profile includes, amongst others, 11 children who progressed to high-functioning special schools for further stimulation in 2015.

The programme also runs a young athletes programme by the Special Olympics, including a parental support programme, especially for young parents, on how to stimulate a child with special needs.

The ECD Awards is in its 12th year and is reported to have awarded a total of R545 000 worth of prizes to the winners.

A total of 34 finalists from all nine provinces attended the gala dinner.

The minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, is the national custodian of the awards.

Among the 34 finalists were those who won the provincial phase of the awards in the categories of Best ECD Centre and Best ECD Practitioner.

The NDA, in partnership with the Department of Social Development, the South Africa Social Security Agency, the Department of Basic Education and Health, the South African Congress for ECD and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef), championed the awards for the second time.

The awards seek to develop and empo-wer the ECD sector by recognising excellence, innovation, best practice, dedication and participation throughout South Africa.

The aim is also to promote the ECD sector and emphasise the importance of investing in early learning.

“It is important that, as we develop the ECD sector in South Africa and make it professional, that we also develop the women who have always been at the forefront of developing the South African child,” said Dlamini.

“They must also benefit from the growth in the sector. No woman should be left behind in our process of moving the sector forward.”

Amongst Bahumi’s highlights as a finalist of the awards was the way in which she was treated like a queen over the weekend. To her it felt like she was on a long overdue holiday.

“We were treated so well. We were given shopping vouchers, transported to wherever we needed to go, given massages from head to toe, including facials.

“That showed me that my hard work really paid off and was indeed recognised.

“It also encouraged me to continue to make a difference,” said the proud Bahumi.

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