Once upon a time in my “previous life” I used to be a Pediatric Red Cross Nursing Sister.
I studied for 3 years at the highly specialized University Hospital for Children in Kiel, North Germany. My plans were to work in a christian mission field or join the “Deutsche Entwicklungsdienst” who sends out people with different qualifications into 3rd world or under developed countries. And I thought by myself that I could use the pediatrics on my own children - and if all fails and I find no husband and have no children of my own, then I could become a “SOS Kinderdorf” mother, someone who “mothers” up to 10 children in a special village for orphans.
My life went a completely different course as I had planned: I became a farmer’s wife in South Africa instead and found myself “married to my mission field”. With of course the women and children closest to my heart.
I watched for example how these babies were lying under the vineyard sticks during the harvest, in closest range of tractor wheels and thought that it would be much better if there was a crèche on the farm, where the kids could be looked after in safety.
The chance came in 1987, when my husband bought a “make-shift-school” with 12 classrooms. He set up 8 of these as housing for our people and 4 of them were made into a large party hall and a Kindergarten.
At the same time the German Kindergarten in Bellville, up to then housed within the German church building, decided to move into a brand new Kindertarden building and furnish it with new furniture, toys, games etc. Being a Kindertarten-parent with both our kids attending over a period of years, I was at the right place at the right time and managed to persuade them to let me have all the old tables and chairs, toys, dolls, cars and games that were going to be replaced, plus quite a few swings, a slide and a climbing frame for our new farm Kindergarten.
One woman from our farm community volunteered to be trained as Kindergarten teacher, but when she wanted to start, the other mothers did not want to send her their children for various reasons. Another lady from the community seemed more popular as Kindergarten teacher, but by the time she was trained and wanted to start, we had the same problem: no children were being sent by the parents.
So we had a fully furnished Kindergarten that stayed locked for 10 years without being of any benefit to our farm children.
In 1997 a highly upset white lady arrived on the farm, barely able to suppress her tears. She introduced herself as a Kindergarten teacher from Hazendal, who had just been kicked out of the building with all her children and her farm animals and was in desperate immediate need of new accommodation. She could not believe her eyes, when I showed her our Kindergarten, complete with camps to accommodate her donkey and rabbits etc.
We arranged that she would move in with all her white children from town completely free of charge, but would in the afternoons teach our farm children for free as well.
In the following 2 years we had a wonderful Kindertarden with happy children who were taught in the afternoons and integrated into the white group in the mornings as soon as they had developed to the same level.
Unfortunately our teacher moved away for personal reasons and then began a period, when I tried to let our farm mothers take turns to look after our children for one week at a time. Eventually one young mother discovered she quite liked the job, but during the following years it was more a crêche where the kids were being looked after rather than taught and prepared for school and when she moved away the Kindergarten stood empty again. Quite literally, as all the tables, chairs & toys inside as well as the swings outside were either broken or had disappeared over the years.
In 2008 I was approached by the charity organisation “Pebbles”, who do wonderful social work on farms. They offered to help us get the Kindergarten going again by sponsoring all the new furniture and toys and games and by taking over the responsibility of training and monitoring 2 young ladies from the midst of our own community as new Kindergarten teachers. We in turn revamped and painted the whole building and the kids were able to move into a brand new, colourful Kindergarten in August 2008.