Amidst shutdown CWD ensures creche opens


Catholic Welfare and Development (CWD) was forced to shut down late last year. Mismanagement had brought this life-giving welfare wing of the Catholic Church to collapse. This was a huge blow to many poor people across the Cape Flats. reported on the closure of CWD in March and April this year. The latest edition of Cape Town’s Archdiocesan News reports that, despite the shutdown of CWD, a much needed creche that was founded by CWD has been given new life. This is good news.

The Tafelsig Early Learning Centre (ELC) is a pre-primary school situated in the gang-ridden area of Mitchell’s Plain. Initially this crèche was founded under CWD in 2002. It is home to 85 children and has a soup kitchen feeding 150 people daily. Between breakfast and lunch, in excess of 300 meals are prepared per day.

With the closure of CWD late last year all staff were retrenched, which included the teachers of Tafelsig Early Learning Centre. Determined to find a solution to see the continuance of this school, the new Board of CWD and the Archdiocese of Cape Town set a goal to keep the doors open, but were still to find a solution when principal Bridgette George and her assistant Shireen Van Reenen, after the Christmas holidays, reopened the centre’s doors on 7 January 2019 using their retrenchment packages to fund operations.

On 10 October 2019 the school was gifted with two new classrooms. This came through a joint effort between CWD and Breadline who had worked on 47 similar projects in prior years. The funds for this project were raised through a bequest from Mrs Sheila Heath, CWD UK, The Vallely Family, St Anthony’s Parish in Dorset, and a donor who requested to remain anonymous.

Inside one of the new classrooms, Archdiocese of Cape Town

The construction of these two classrooms is the first stage of a three-year development project for the school. Funds still need to be raised for ablution facilities, a children’s playground, perimeter walls and an additional three classrooms.

Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David OMI, who blessed the classrooms, reminded those present of the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the Extraordinary Mission Month (October 2019): “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World”. He emphasized the important role of parents in the formation of their children and also noted that through the awareness of the needs of this Centre, other role players took on the responsibility of carrying out the Mission of Christ. The bishop lauded the efforts and the coming together of the various roles to enhance the lives of those in need. He concluded the blessing ritual by chatting with the children, praying with them and blessing them.

One of the new classrooms at Tafelsig Early Learning Centre, Cape Town Archdiocese

Tafelsig Early Learning Centre now has its own Management Board who will continue to support and raise funds for this much-needed Centre. Under the management of Bridgette and Shireen, the dream of providing a good learning foundation for the children may be a reality for these two hard-working and dedicated women. Tafelsig ELC is one of three crèches that CWD is helping to become independent before it finally shuts down.

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* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.


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Amidst shutdown CWD ensures creche opens