Bonginkosi Preschool

Preschool for children from extremely deprived families

The high prevalence of AIDS in South Africa has left many children as orphans, living in households where the head of the house is a child themselves – or an aged grandparent with no means of support. Traditional family and wider community structures are failing, leaving children with little or no adult support systems. The exact number of these children is unknown and estimates vary considerably but tend towards “holocaust” proportions. One estimate of the number of children already orphaned in the Pietermaritzburg area alone is up to 15,000, with 250,000 in KwaZulu-Natal. Although the SA government does what it can, the needs are simply overwhelming.


Bonginkosi Preschool
The Bonginkosi Preschool is situated in Edendale near Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal – a particularly impoverished region. The children who attend are, mostly from poverty-stricken parents or orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Parents or grandparents are required to contribute about £5 per month, which covers some of its operational costs; some cannot afford even this and where possible sponsors are found for these children.

The children at Bonginkosi are provided with two hot meals in a day - breakfast and lunch. Many of them really look forward to these meals as things are so difficult at home and there is little food there.Bonginkosi

The preschool had been using a dilapidated building which had been condemned by the health authorities, but following an application made by Thembisa, Kennington Overseas Aid adopted Bonginkosi as their charity for 2006. They raised an amazing £21,220 for Bonginkosi, towards the building of a new school.

It took quite some time before building could commence, as there were difficulties over the ownership of the land. These difficulties were eventually resolved. During the waiting time African Enterprise, under whose auspices Bonginkosi is run, was able to get voluntary help from a firm of architects. They also appointed Paul Passaro, an American, as building project manager.

Paul and his wife were able to raise additional funding in the US. This made it possible to build a much bigger structure that would not only cater for the children attending the Preschool, but also the community at large. The hope is to do things like provide skills training for the many school leavers who cannot afford to go on to tertiary education, a drop-in centre, etc. These projects however will not be started just yet, as additional finances will be needed. A wonderful new building containing several classrooms and a proper kitchen and ablution facilities was officially opened in May 2009.