Located at Rooibank next to the Kuiseb river, the !Khuiseb Arise and Shine Kindergarten is testament to one teacher’s dedication to the children of her community,
Gertrude Bull and her family relocated to the Rooibank area in 2011 and as a teacher she immediately recognised the need for pre-school education in the local Topnaar community. “I could see that early childhood development and pre-school education for school-readiness was sorely lacking. When I heard about the Amos Meerkat programme on radio and the success those farm workers had with creating their own pre-schools, I knew I had to do something similar for our children. So we started presenting the Amos Meerkat curriculum in a small shack” she said.
As more children started attending the classes the Bull family built a small building from waste material and had signed up some 17 children aged 3 to 6. Many of the children live up to 3km away, so, said Gertrude, “We also provide meals for the children because they walk so far. We have approached various institutions for assistance, but very little help was forthcoming.”
The Amos Meerkat pre-school project was created by Amos Namibia, a ministry focussing on the Namibia farming community, and the Namibia LifeChange Centres Foundation, a non-profit organisation that provides support to charities involved in poverty reduction and community upliftment. This project is also supported by First National Bank.
According to the Managing Director of the LifeChange Centres Foundation, Schalk Walters, the goal of the Amos Meerkat project is to equip informal pre-schools that do not have access to any curriculum or formally trained teachers, with the necessary tools and assistance. “In this way we can ensure that the learners are educationally ready when they enter Grade 1.”
Gertrude’s kindergarten is named after the !Khuiseb Arise and Shine Centre where the most needy Rooibankers are assisted with nourishment for the elderly and for vulnerable children, as well as the establishment of prayer groups and literacy classes.
As part of its assistance to the centre, the foundation partnered with NamGreenwood, a Swakopmund producer of wood and plastic composite building material, to construct a formal classroom. NamGreenwood supplied the building material for the walls and roof as well as the labour to erect the classroom on the centre’s premises, while financial services provider Simonis Storm Securities sponsored pavers for the floor. Another hardware dealer, Betcrete contributed windows and doorframes.
The new school building was officially handed over to the pre-school last month in a small ceremony where the overjoyed children stunned the visiting delegation with a prefect rendition of the National and AU anthems. During the ceremony Walters expressed his appreciation to the Bull family for their determination to provide pre-school education to their community. He also thanked the sponsors for their contribution in creating a better equipped classroom. “We are deeply touched by your contribution, and we are especially proud of the courage and determination Gertrude and her family have shown in creating an oasis for learning and in turn helping to uplift the Topnaar community,” Walters noted.