Blow as centre faces axe

Zandile Mbabela

A NELSON Mandela Bay daycare centre catering for children with physical and intellectual disabilities, run by the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD), faces closure as the non-governmental organisation’s coffers have run dry.

Staff and parents at the Motherwell centre were shocked to find out yesterday that in just over a month the school, which has been parents’ only hope for their children’s development, could close its doors forever.

The APD daycare centre, of which the annual running costs average R500000, is one of the association’s operations that could get the axe because of a crippling lack of funds.

At a board meeting yesterday morning, the minutes of which were handed to parents in the afternoon, it was revealed that of the APD’s total annual loss, 66% was a result of the centre.

Now APD staff are in a scramble to try to find another organisation that would take over the daycare centre in an attempt to save it. Non-profit organisations have, over the past two years, been hard hit as the financial climate has taken a turn for the worse.

APD executive director Brian Bezuidenhout conceded that the association was in financial trouble and that the daycare centre may close.

“We are trying our best [to save the centre] and only have its interests at heart,” he said yesterday. “We are meeting other organisations to see if any can take this over.”

Parents, many of whom are unemployed, were in a state yesterday after hearing that coffers had run dry and the créche could close around March 19.

Sinazo Skoloku, 26, of Motherwell’s NU12, whose son Asakhe, 6, has spina bifida, said she was gutted by the news.

“My son is due for a transfer to another special school after he gets his mid-year report and now I don’t know how this will affect his move,” she said.

“We did not see this coming.”

Nandipha Siko, 30, of Motherwell’s NU11, said she had no alternative for her son Lunathi, 4, as the other school that catered for children with cerebral palsy was too expensive.

“What will I do with him now? The other school that can accommodate him costs R1600 a month excluding transport and here we pay only R300 monthly and they get picked up and dropped off,” she said.

“I’m currently between jobs and even with a job, that is too much for me.”

Makhaya Kuzwayo, 44, whose daughter Yamkela, 8, also has cerebral palsy, said he feared she could have a setback after having made a great improvement since starting at the centre six years ago.

“We can’t take her to a normal school and affordable special schools are already hard to come by,” he said. “We can’t allow the centre’s closure. Here, they are cared for by specially trained staff who have produced such great developmental improvement that we, as parents, would not necessarily know how to encourage. And we spend most of our time looking for work.”

His partner, Pamela Dyantyi, 34, said she was praying for a miracle and that the centre would be spared the axe.

Staff said the probable closure not only meant no jobs for them but also that the children would be badly affected.

An employee, who would not be named, said working there was not just about the R1600 monthly salary she got, but the bond with the children.

“I’m worried about their future and that the parents may not be able to give them the special attention they need.”

Caregiver Nobambo Yani, 37, of New Brighton, said: “We considered these children our own and knew we were their parents’ only hope. I just pray a plan comes up because this whole process could be traumatic to the kids.”

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