Celebrate Good Times, Come On! It’s A Celebration!


The United Nations established November 20th as Universal Children’s Day in 1954. This date marks the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Universal Children’s Day is seen as a global recognition of children’s rights. Eric proposed this idea of planning a celebration with the Flamingo Heights Community for their children. With many days of planning and collaboration with the governing body, the CECD, SASDI Alliance, other WPI project groups, and local businesses, it was a day to celebrate not only the children themselves, but the wider community’s commitment to giving the children the best opportunities they can.


Cast of Characters:

Community Members- A Majority of the Flamingo Community Members and Children

WPI Flamingo Team

Advisor- Nicola

CECD- The entire office

SASDI- Melanie, Terrance

Lansdowne Post Office Representatives

Social Services- Child Welfare Workers

Lumka- works along with the CECD and with Flamingo



Flamingo Heights Playground Area and Little Paradise Crèche

Before heading into the community, we stopped by the bakery, a short walk down the road from Flamingo Heights, to get the cookies we had ordered the previous day when shopping with Mark. The owner generously gave us an extra box of cookies “for the children. When we entered the community and headed to the community hall, we saw a tall man wearing a cap and Elizabeth next to a dumpster filled with bags of trash. The area was clean and looked so much nicer compared to the previous day. Elizabeth said she and the man were working all morning to pick up the trash and get the area cleaned up.

With a positive and proud start, we worked to set up the party to make the community proud in return. When Merelda headed to the butcher to get the meat and rolls, we sought out coal for the grill at a local convenience store with Mark. We came back and hung the banner we had made that displayed the children’s handprints, we arranged the tables that the CECD brought over for us, and then made signs for face painting and food. As it got closer to party time, we noticed the children who had been playing in the area and helping us set up had suddenly disappeared. A little while later, they returned cleaned up and with their “party” clothes on.

We brought out hula-hoops and jump ropes for the kids to play. They were ecstatic with the toys and started playing and dancing to the music. Kim and Maggie brought the face paint out and a swarm of children surrounded the table as they started choosing what they wanted to be painted. Soon the kids from the crèche also came out to join the others. Community members started to draw into the party from the sound of the music and laughter of the children. Other guests like the employees from the CECD, Melanie and Terrance from the SASDI alliance, WPI teams and co-researchers in other projects, our bus driver Hendrick, and people from the local post office started to arrive. We brought out big sunglasses and feather boas for kids to play around and take silly childrensday1pictures with. As all of the students, children, and some community members were playing, dancing, and face-painting; Sarah and Aziza from the CECD were helping Mark to cook the boerewors (South African sausage).

With the first half hour of party done, we gathered the kids in a circle and quieted the crowd. To take a moment and to recognise this day was truly for the children, we asked Cathy to say a few words and to thank everyone for helping out with the governing body by her side. Melanie then said a short prayer to bless the day, the children, and the food. Lumka, an older woman who works with the CECD and has been involved with the Flamingo Heights community for a long time, turned the spotlight to the children as they performed songs for everyone. After childrensday2the children were done singing, boerewors rolls were handed out to all of the children along with cups of juice. Several community members were seated around the area of the party observing and spread the word to others that there was food. When all the boerewors rolls were made, we passed them out to the rest of the community members, who looked very pleased to be getting fed. A few people asked for more, which was a bit uncomfortable to say no to, but we explained that we had enough for everyone to get one roll and then let the governing body handle distributing the rest.

A light sprinkle of rain started to fall as it neared 1:30pm, and people started slowly leaving. Several community members helped take down signs, put chairs and tables back, throw all the garbage away, and sweep the area so it was as clean as it was before everyone showed up. With their help, we were done cleaning and packing up in thirty minutes.

As we said goodbye to the governing body, as well as Melanie, Terrance, and Cathy, we all shared huge hugs. Everyone was happy and as pleased with the outcome of the day as were we. As we walked out of the settlement, all of community members were waving goodbye with smiles across their faces. As our team settled in the van, we all had a sigh of relief. We were feeling pretty exhausted from the day but satisfied and overjoyed with the celebration.



Walking into the community, we were unsure of what to expect with the cleanliness of the party area. When last we left, the area was a mess of garbage, glass, dirt, and condom wrappers. To our surprise and actually more relief, the area was almost spotless. This showed our team that when the community works together, and really commits to an idea, that idea or that task is going to get accomplished. This directly relates to the community’s efforts in the past with the CTPC. First, with the reblocking process in 2013 and then again with the construction of the creche in 2014, and now again in 2015 with this celebration.

The party really seemed to get the whole community together in order to celebrate the children. Everyone appeared to be having a good time, helping out and playing with the children. The most important part was that the children were having fun as this day was all about them.

It was a wave of accomplishment that rolled over us as Eric took the time to come around to each of us saying how great of a job we all did in planning the event and making it happen. With all of the hard work the CECD does for ECD efforts in South Africa as a whole, we were humbled to provide them with the opportunity to get away from their office and enjoy celebrating the lives of those they are most influencing.

What was most evident for our team at the end of the day was how quickly and easily people will come and work together for the sake of the children. This motivation has come up in talking to the governing body many times, but to actually see it in action was amazing. From the little things like passing around the invitations, to Merelda getting the food, Elizabeth making sure the area was clean, Mark making sure that all of our supplies we bought were protected as a we stored them overnight, and everyone helping out the entire day making sure things were running smoothly, showed us that the governing body does care about the children and doing remarkable things for them.

Although the party was for celebrating the children, our team recognises this celebration as the positive energy the governing body possibly needed to keep going with all of their hard work. The lengthy and substantial task of registering the crèche and becoming an effective governing body is draining. Like Terrance said, day was a positive event for the whole community to come together..