What is Aitsa?
On the 15th of January 2014 the Dwarsriver Valley Initiative opened an after care centre in the small village of Kylemore just outside Stellenbosch for 25 children. This year the Aitsa! After Care centre caters for 105 children, ages 5 to 8, every weekday afternoon from 1pm to 5pm. The centre provides food, educational stimulation, fun, sport and life skills activities. We create a safe place where children feel loved, nurtured and stimulated to develop and grow as best they can.
When was it launched and by who?
Marietjie Steyn, an educational psychologist, moved into the Banhoek Valley in 2012 and offered her services at the local primary school as a counselor. In the months that followed, she became aware of the desperate situation that some children found themselves in: parents working long hours, poverty and substance abuse led to many children roaming the streets – hungry, bored and often feeling unloved and unwanted.
Marietjie approached the Imbali Western Cape Organisation, an established NGO in the Kylemore area, to incorporate the after care centre as part of their projects. After 15 months of being part of the Imbali Western Cape NGO, the aftercare team decided to spread their wings and start their own NPO called the Dwarsriver Valley Initiative or Aitsa!
Story time with some volunteers
What is the goal of the programme?
The ultimate goal is for them to develop into socially responsible and well-rounded individuals who can play a positive role in their communities.
To achieve this vision the following is our plan of action:
- To provide a safe and nurturing environment after school.
- To provide quality educational stimulation and parental support.
- To provide an opportunity for different sport and art activities.
Who facilitates the activities?
We are supported by some amazing individuals and organisations including Anthon Wittenberg who teaches the students chess, the Maties Child Kinetics who has adopted Aitsa After Care centre as their outreach project. Project Isizwe, an NGO that promotes free WiFi and have adopted us as part of their community projects and have installed a WIFI connection and Readings Eggs. We are also supported by Tracey Prowse from Physifun and Renie Nel Editor of Bazoo Educational Magazine.
Petra Children College in De Doorns supplies training for our staff annually. They cover topics like connecting with a child through play, discipline, how to handle large groups and creative storytelling techniques, while Stellenbosch Primary School – Advertising our need for items for our second hand market as well as our quarterly newsletter, in their communicator. The children are given ball skills and fitness lessons weekly by Rise Tennis Academy and ATKV supports our reading programme and training teachers and teacher’s aids.
Lastly we’ve been given devices loaded with educational apps from Xander for the children to learn about using technology in their home language, Afrikaans.
Grade R Student enjoying a singalong session
How can people get involved?
- Sponsor a child, teacher or social worker on a monthly basis
- Once-off donations or specific donations (fruit, books, educational toys etc.)
- Donate your second hand goods and support our second-hand stall
- Give of your time and expertise