Joyful celebrations took place at Just Care Aftercare in Mount Pleasant last week to mark their third birthday. Several benefactors and supporters, including Just Care’s patron, Ald Nicolette Botha-Guthrie, attended the event at Just Care’s premises in Malva Street and were treated to a concert by groups of children who showed off their musical and dance talent.

The trustees wish to thank the dedicated staff of Just Care Aftercare for their dedication and hard work. At the back is sports coach Thomas Lebitsa, in the second row from the back are Freda Johannes (Gr 4 carer) and Ethel Visser (Gr 2 carer), in the third row from the back Dulsey Spandiel (Gr 3 & 5 carer) and Margo Lukas (Gr 6 & 7 carer), in the fourth row from the back Elenor May (Gr R carer), Matoka Matee (manager), Verna Spandiel (kitchen) and founder trustee Jacquie Rathfelder, with trustee Kathleen Sanders sitting in front.

It is heart-warming to see how the approximately 130 primary school children who find a refuge at Just Care are flourishing under the watchful eye of founder and trustee Jacquie Rathfelder, with the support of her staff and several volunteers.

The children are fetched from their schools and brought to the new double-storey Just Care building after school, where they receive a nutritious lunch and take part in structured activities during the afternoon. These include doing their homework under supervision, taking part in sports with volunteer coach Thomas Lebitsa from Abagold, and reading, art and knitting classes offered by volunteers.

Before construction of the centre was completed at the end of last year, Just Care Aftercare, founded in May 2015, had been operating from Mount Pleasant Primary School. They were in dire need of their own premises and were overjoyed to receive a generous donation of just under R500 000 from Lighthouse 2 Lighthouse as the 2017 Ladies Walk’s charity of choice. The new centre has a reception area, canteen, kitchen, bathrooms, library, classrooms and a small garden where the children can play. They employ seven staff members and several volunteers.

The need is so great, however, that the premises are already inadequate in accommodating all the children in need of care. Jacquie says it pains her to show parents away, but the centre is already stretched to the limit and many had to go on the waiting list.

Just Care Aftercare was founded by Jacquie and her mom, Claudine Rathfelder, in memory of her father, John, who had been a teacher for 25 years, and is a safe haven for the many children whose parents work full time and who were previously left to their own devices after school hours, without proper care, structured activities, guidance or supervision.

After lunch the Just Care children do their homework every afternoon under the supervision of their carers in the colourful classrooms before being allowed to play or take part in sports and other structured activities.

“Children require a nurturing touch in order to grow and prosper. Our team of staff and volunteers provide this care on a daily basis,” says Jacquie. “It is a huge undertaking and we often feel overwhelmed, but to see these children bloom makes it all worthwhile.”

To find out how you can assist this project by making a donation, taking part in their Buy a Brick Campaign or by sponsoring an underprivileged child for just R150 pm, visit www.justcare.co.za/donations

They are also in dire need of clothes, especially shoes and socks, toys, books, sport equipment, and chairs for the dining room and classrooms.

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