I got a call three weeks ago from an old Facebook friend of mine, Estelle Opperman. She is the principal at a nursery school in Krugersdorp. Mug and Tree. She told me something that I didn’t know was possible.
Mug and Tree Nursery School’s children comes from the very poorest of households.
She told me that the kids in her nursery school’s parents are so poor…they don’t even have any photographs of their own children! She asked me if I would be willing to take some photos of the children to give to their parents. I agreed, and went to visit the school and soup kitchen that provides 200 free meals a day from donations to people that can’t afford to buy food. This soup kitchen is a registered NPO and was started by Trudie Naude 4 years ago.
What a humbling and touching experience this was for me.
Trudie saw the need for a nursery school and after school care unit and kicked off with Mug and Tree Nursery School in January 2013. There is currently 27 kids in the nursery school and 30 in the after school care.
Nobody working at the school gets a salary, there is just not any funds for that. They have one qualified teacher Estelle Opperman and Alicia Jansen van Vuuren, 20 years old, she has matric and is prepared to work for free to teach these kids because she also come from the same disadvantaged community and realise that these kids needs to learn that there is something better out there and that they can get to the top. Estelle and Trudie is trying to organise that the government sponsor Alicia to go and learn to become a nursery school teacher
Then there is the ladies working in the kitchen to prepare meals for 200 hungry mouths every day…their deed of love, they don’t get paid to do it.
There is Mara, Salamina, Johanna and Lydia preparing the meals and Florance that cleans the place every day…for free.
Most of these kids’s parents are illiterate, they are thus not in a position to really teach their kids anything. They can’t help their children with homework…because they can’t read themselves! Most parents can’t get jobs because although they can work, people don’t want to employ them because they haven’t got papers or they simply don’t look good enough to be employed. Trudie told me about some parents that collects plastic bottles the whole day to earn money. They haven’t got a vehicle to drive around to pick up the bottles, they pull a big bag around. If you collect something like a bakkie load of bottles you get about R10-00 (1,25 USD) for it.It take them a day or two to collect that many bottles.
Some parents are just not there for their children any more. One grandmother walked her grandchildren to the nursery school while I was there. She looks after 7 of her grandchildren, on her own, with virtually no income.
Every kid at the school gets a box of cereal every week to take home, that is sometimes all that they and their parents have to eat in the evening. The kids get fed at the school, meals differ every day…depending on what gets donated that day. Trudie also make sure that they get soap, toothpaste and shampoo to take home.
Trudie say some kids come to school on a Monday and eat two to three plates of porridge…because there was no food in their house the whole weekend. One such story that touched my heart was of two little sisters that was in the nursery school earlier this year, Estelle say they were like David and Jonathan. The one didn’t even go to the bathroom without the other one…until the welfare took them both away because they visited their house over a weekend and there was no food in the house. The two little girls are now with foster parents in two different provinces, they don’t even know when and if they will see each other again.
Things that we take for granted has to be provided by Trudie, like to make sure each child has at least one blanket to sleep under. Some of these kids live in houses where 8 families stay, the house has two rooms! Some kids has to sleep two together in one bed, some of them sleep in the bath because there is not a bed to sleep in!
Trudie told me about this one little guy that is in their after school care. He only had one pair of clothes, and that was an old worn out pair of school pants and a washed out school T shirt donated to them. When he gets home in the evenings he has to take the pants and T shirt off to be washed for school the next day, he then has to put his pyjamas on because he doesn’t own any other clothes. Weekends he wears his one pair of school pants and School T shirt.
One of the little girls in these photos are incredibly clever and talented, yet, she lives in a coal room next to their house that’s been enlarged to make space for her to sleep in.
The one little guy’s dad drank out the little money that he earned, he then told his son he can’t get a christmas gift because he was naughty! The little boy was crying at the nursery school, he was trying his best not to be naughty so that he could get a Christmas gift this year.
Although these kids have nothing, Trudie and Estelle teaches them to reach out to other people. Just the other day they took 5 of these kids to an old age home to sing Happy birthday to an old lady of 81. Trudie say the old lady broke out in tears afterwards, she said it was the best birthday gift she ever got!
At the moment Mug and Tree is run out of a hall in Krugersdorp that they rent. Somebody donated a house to them though, and they are now trying to find the money to repair this house so that the nursery school and soup kitchen can be run from there.
If you have ANYTHING that you can donate it will be welcome, old clothes, blankets, food, chipped plates…ANYTHING that you don’t use. Please contact Trudie and tell her that you have read this article, that it has touched your heart and that you want to help. What is worthless to you and just lying around in your garage will be like gold to these people.
Even just one bottle of cold drink will help, when I was there it was tea time for the kids…Alicia carried out a lot of cups…and a big jug of water! There was no cold drink or hot coffee for them that day.
If you want to make a donation you can deposit the money into the following bank account. Remember they are a registered non profit organisation.
Mug and Tree Soup Kitchen
FNB Cheque account
Acc nr: 62231158694
Bank Code: 250655
She also has an Adopt a Child programme, ask her about it.
The only way we can REALLY help these little kids is if enough people read this. Even if your only donation is to forward the link of this blogpost to a couple of your friends so that they can read it that will already be appreciated a lot and it might just make a big difference in their lives and what they become one day. They are normal little kids just like yours and mine, they just don’t have the same chances to become something like our kids do. Here is the link to this blogpost that you can copy and paste when you forward it to your friends. http://www.jccrafford.com/mug-
Thanks for reading this and thanks for caring
A sincere thanks to Q Photo Parkview who sponsored the printing of all the photos that the kids will get and will give to their mothers for Mothers Day. You can contact them on 012 998 0134 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks Q Photo. Click here to read more about Q Photo