Special Care Day Centre
Introducing Lonwabo Special Needs Centre
Lonwabo Special Care Day Centre in Mfuleni is managed by Principal Thandeka Mafila.
Thandeka embarked on her calling to care for, and educate, children with profound and severe physical and mental disabilities after hearing an inspirational interview on the radio in 2008 by Lindela in Khayelitsha. Her plea for someone to reach out and help special needs children in Mfuleni touched Thandeka’s heart – it was her defining moment. Read more about Thandeka here.
From these humble beginnings, Lonwabo Special Care Centre has grown into a facility that lovingly caters for 38 children between 0 and 18 years of age.
It is the only centre of its kind in Mfuleni, providing essential support to parents with special needs children living in the poverty-stricken communities surrounding Mfuleni as well. As a result, the demand for places is very high.
The Challenges Lonwabo Faces
The day starts early at Lonwabo – Thandeka’s husband, Thembasile, is on the road as early as 0530h on his way to collect children who attend the centre from surrounding communities. A larger bus specifically equipped to transport children in wheelchairs, for example, will be required when the new centre comes in to operation.
The last 18 months have been tough – increasingly stringent health regulations cannot be met by the existing facility. Consequently, Lonwabo is currently threatened by closure. Such a loss would be a devastating loss for parents who need to know their children are well cared for while they are either at work or actively seeking employment. It would also be a catastrophe in the light of progress being made at the centre in providing a more stimulating environment for learners there to flourish.
Designing the New Lonwabo Centre & Preparing the Team to Operate It
The aim with the new centre is to underpin its financial sustainability by ensuring that access to subsidies is optimised by designing it to meet the registration and licensing requirements. This also has the added advantage of improving access to healthcare and therapy support.
Good design will need to be balanced by good management of the facility for this strategy to succeed.
Thandeka and her team will need specialised training and ongoing support from the team of Starting Chance fieldworkers to not only successfully make the transition to the new facility but also meet the expectation of parents who will send their children there.
Planning is essential, and Starting Chance has created an advisory team of specialists to support the process.
The Funds Still Needed for Lonwabo & How You Can Help
Our goal is to raise sufficient funds to construct all of the facilities on the campus in one phase of development, thereby avoiding ongoing disruption on the site. However, our top priority is to be in a position to complete the new Lonwabo Centre and bring it in to operation.
Starting Chance has received R1.5million from the HomeChoice Development Trust toward the construction of the Lonwabo Special Care Day Centre.
In the 2 years since Starting Chance first applied to purchase land for the centre, construction costs have risen by almost 20%. Constructing a centre of this kind is also more demanding because many specialised fittings have to be provided to ensure that children are safe and that those who are mobile are properly supported to do so.