“Centre of Excellence” opens in Alexandra Township
A modern sports indoor sports hall with an Astroturf playing surface - the first of its kind in Alexandra township – is one of the key features of a modern, two-storey community centre that was officially opened in the township in March.
A joint MaAfrika Tikkun and Phutaditjaba project, the new Ronnie and Rhona Lubner Child Youth Centre, is a “Centre of Excellence” which also houses a modern Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre for 200 children and a Child and Youth programme offering access to online information to ensure first world learning opportunities, as well as access to sport and recreation activities.
The organisation even caters for children with learning difficulties, offering specialised education and a well-equipped toy library.
Funding for the R10-million project was provided by the following parties: businessman Ronnie Lubner and his wife Rhona who are now based in the UK; the National Lotteries Distribution Trust; the Gauteng Department of Social Development; and the international Belron® Group - the world’s largest vehicle glass repair and replacement business, run by Gary Lubner. The Lubner family under the Chairmanship of Bertie Lubner and CEO Marc Lubner are actively involved in running MaAfrika Tikkun.
Other sponsors – from large corporates to schools - have assisted in equipping the facility with everything from computers and internet connectivity to toys.
The Ronnie and Rhona Lubner Child Youth Centre was built alongside Alex’s landmark Phutaditjaba Centre which was established in the 1970s by Annie Twala, the mother of the Rev. Linda Twala, to care for the aged and disabled in the impoverished area.
MaAfrika Tikkun initially became involved with Rev Twala and Phutaditjaba in 1998 when floods in the township resulted in many people who had lost their homes turning to the Centre for shelter. MaAfrika Tikkun offered emergency disaster relief through to elderly care – and the relationship subsequently flourished.
This was formalised in 2004 when MaAfrika Tikkun worked with Phutaditjaba to extend its services to caring for the youth and their caregivers. A feeding programme was established which today provides daily meals and sandwiches to over 400 people every week day; the training and monitoring of 15 community caregivers and 10 Youth Interns; and the introduction of a formal Youth Development programme.
All staff are employed from the local community in line with MaAfrika Tikkun’s policy of providing employment and skills development in all six under-resourced communities in which it operates.
The original Phutaditjaba facilities were cramped and unsuited to the effective implementation of MaAfrika Tikkun’s Holistic Circle of Care Model which is aimed at empowering children in deprived communities to grow up into well-rounded, productive adults. There was, for example, no space to offer an effective Early Childhood Development programme.
A decision was taken to expand the Community Centre in 2007 and fund raising commenced in earnest in 2008.
The new Ronnie and Rhona Lubner Child Youth Centre’s ECD facility now caters for 200 children aged between two and six while the formal after-school “Child and Youth Development” programme has some 200 primary and high school participants. This number is to grow to over 400 youth participants who are able to access the services offered at the centre to complement to their formal schooling.
The focus of Child and Youth Development programme is to support a fun-filled set of activities – sport, dance, art etc – that promote discipline and encourage personal growth; and offer life skills training including career guidance as well as a variety of ‘soft-skills’ learning experiences.
A total of 100 people who are local Alex residents are to be employed at the Centre. The Centre manager is Patricia Ledwaba who grew up in the township.
Marc Lubner, CEO of MaAfrika Tikkun said the Ronnie and Rhona Lubner Child Youth Centre’s is a sustainable gift to the entire Alex community as it is not just another building, but a place of stimulation and progression for the children and youth of Alexandra.
“This building doesn’t belong to MaAfrika Tikkun. It belongs to the people of Alex. Our ECD and toy library facilities, for example, will be available to other pre-schools in the township, while the sports hall and multimedia centre could also be used by other organisations in the township,” he added.