Sibongile; Sinoxolo boo Mama

2016-02-18 06:00
 Members of Sinoxolo UCCSA Gugulethu visited the Sibongile Educare Centre

Members of Sinoxolo UCCSA Gugulethu visited the Sibongile Educare Centre

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Sinoxolo United Congregational Church of Southern Africa members visited the Sibongile Educare Centre last Saturday bearing gifts.

The centre caters for disabled children, many of whom have cerebral palsy.

Noxolo Mnweba, chairperson of Sinoxolo women’s manyano, said they visited the children because they heard about the “wonderful work” carried out at the centre.

“We were touched when some of youth leaders visited the place last year and we decided to pay them also a visit and spend time with the staff and the children,” Mnweba said.

Church secretary Buyiswa Ndevu said they “collected donations from the congregation” in order to buy groceries for the centre.

“It’s a small gesture but it comes from deep within our hearts and we continue to pray for this centre to prosper,” said Ndevu.

Centre founder Nomasango Xabanisa was smiling from ear to ear, as the women sang church hymns whilst playing with the children.

Xabanisa started and named the centre after he late daughter, Sibongile, who had cerebral palsy.

Sibongile died of pneumonia when she was just 15 years old.

But her name has been immortalized in the day and night care centre, which her mother opened in Phakamisa in Khayelitsha.

“She was the one who inspired me to open the centre. I looked after her on my own, I struggled to feed her and to buy nappies. Transport to hospital was also very difficult. I couldn’t even afford to pay someone to look after her while I was at work,” said Xabanisa.

Opened in 2005, Sibongile Centre aims to provide quality care to children with cerebral palsy and other severe disabilities in the Khayelitsha community. With just 12 children in 2006, the centre now cares for about 52 children between the ages of two and 18 years. There are also three residential homes for children.

“I wanted to pass on the message to other parents who have children living with disabilities that there is support in the community for them, they are not alone.”

Xabanisa first operated from two shipping containers which were donated to her. There was no electricity or running water, little space, and very little money for food, clothing or nappies. But people noticed the work that Xabanisa was doing in the community, and she attracted funders and donors.

The day care centre now operates from Monday to Friday, from 7.30am to 4pm and the homes, situated in Khayelitsha’s Ilitha Park, run 24 hours a day for seven days a week.

The centre also caters for children with disabilities such as developmental delay, Down’s syndrome and autism.

“We have a support group programme where parents interact and advise each other on how to deal with disabilities and its challenges. Because the stigma of disability is there, most children are being neglected because of the difficulties parents go through,” said Xabanisa.

Xabanisa said she was grateful to the church for visiting the centre. “This really means a lot to us and we are always delighted when people pop in, some of these children don’t get any visits and this is heartwarming,” she said. Mnweba said they would spread the word about “selfless and dedicated people like Xabanisa.”

“They are doing a very good work.”

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