“One Hand Must Wash the Other”

“One hand must wash the other” – Marky Mark


With the completion of last year’s project, the Little Paradise crèche in Flamingo Heights was constructed and opened in February 2015. There were about 25 consistent children enrolled, with a principal, one full time teacher and two part time volunteers. Although the crèche has provided a number of children with ECD opportunities, the crèche still faced numerous challenges. Working with the community leaders of Flamingo Heights and with the help of the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD), our team aimed to assist the crèche to register formally with the provincial government and develop a sustainable fundraising strategy.


Cast of Characters:

CECD- Sarah Atmore

WPI Flamingo Team- John, Kim, Mike, Maggie

Advisors- Scott and Nicola

Community Members- Cathy, Elizabeth, Mark



Flamingo Heights

 As we walked into the crèche for the first time, there was a lot to take in. Children were doing different activities like playing with blocks, play dough, or sitting in a circle. There was only one teacher going back and forth between them as Cathy, the principal, came to greet us. She looked exhausted, but genuinely happy to see us. The inside of the crèche is one big room so our team, Cathy, Sarah, Scott and Nicola gathered in a back corner to have our first meeting.

Cathy jumped right into all of the challenges she has been facing since the crèche has opened such as inadequate staffing, parents not paying fees, not enough funding, and paperwork for registration not getting completed. We talked about scheduling a meeting to bring together all the members of the governing body, Scott, Nicola, Sarah (CECD), Melanie and Terrance (Informal Settlement Network), and ourselves. We would go over the process of the three types of registration that the crèche needs to go through (to formalize the crèche, for government funding, and for non-profit status).

The next day we met with Cathy and two of the governing body members, Elizabeth and Mark, for a tour of the Flamingo Heights. Lodged between a bustling industrial neighborhood of Lansdowne, structures lined either side of the thin roads of the football field sized community. The first corner we came too featured a pile of dirt with an overturned shopping cart resting at the top. The corner was a disorganized mess. A torn mattress and various other junk items prompted Cathy to speak about her disappointment with how quickly after the reblocking efforts the community has neglected to keep it clean. “If we had the money, we could pay someone to clean these roads, and create a job of it, but we can’t,” she remarked. As we walked through the rest of Flamingo Heights, Cathy pointed to a septic tank leak running through the middle of the front road of the community. She mentioned she had called the city about it a few days ago but no one had come to tend to it.


After the tour of the community, we convened in front of Little Paradise as Cathy, Elizabeth, and Mark told us some of the problems they saw throughout the community and ways they believed the community members could get more involved. Each of the members discussed how the reblocking and construction of the crèche benefitted the children substantially. Before, they used to roam the streets and get into serious trouble. They also spoke of a heart wrenching story about a fire that spread through their community, killing two people including a two-year-old, which occurred only a little while before reblocking occurred.

Mark opened up and told us of how his childhood was extremely challenging and heavily involved in drinking and drugs. This lead him to steal, stab, and vandalize. He worked to get his life back on track through Rastafari. He now wants his two sons to have a safer and better upbringing. Mark played a large role in the construction of the crèche, which gave us a feeling he will play a primary role in connecting with many members in the community to encourage their involvement.

We spent the remainder of this conversation hearing about the challenges faced by the Flamingo Heights. Lack of motivation and lack of opportunity for employment was recognized as prevalent throughout the community. Surrounding companies refused to employ members from Flamingo Heights because of negative past experiences. Another large difficultly was gambling. Many parents give their child R5 and send them to win more. Some children skip out of school early and hit the streets to gamble and give the money they win to their parents. The Child Support Grant was another topic discussed. Cathy told us that there are parents currently receiving this grant. However, the money is often not spent to send their children to crèche. As Cathy explain she had asked a mother where her Child Support Grant money was going (because the child was not enrolled in the crèche) her response was “I don’t know.”



Regarding the crèche, the children were very happy, playful, and enthusiastic. It was great to see how well they responded to questions like their name and age and things they liked to do. From the tour, the desolation and dirtiness that permeated the community was humbling to onehandmustwashtheother2see, as it was a reflection of the many problems affecting the residents. There was a distinct lack of hope showing through the outer conditions of the housing. Cathy, Elizabeth, and Mark believed that with our help, they could make a difference and positive change in the way the community looks after itself.