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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Helping the special ones...

This young man not only crept into our hearts with his project but he is also such a soft spoken, big hearted child that became one of our best recipients of the Young Community Shapers Awards. Since he won the competition a while ago he has gone from strength to strength. Let me explain.

This is a young man with a heart as big as life itself. I met Lesego in a far-off rural area about 500 km from Johannesburg. In this rural village people, and especially children with special needs are left behind. Lesego has a sister that was born with brain injuries and as she was growing up he saw how poorly the community was equipped to deal with these kinds of people.

Lesego and his mother have no help from any official department and rely solely on donations from the very poor community. A local school made a small two-room building available in witch the day care center function. Lesego and his mom are currently looking after about twenty children with special needs.

Since they started the project an old couple joined the staff and cares for the children as well. They have been married for over 45 years I was told.

Apart from teaching and playing with the children these caretakers also feed the children one warm meal a day. With no kitchen available in the facility this all takes place outside on an open fire. Toys to stimulate the children are not plentiful and the special equipment that is needed to stimulate them are expensive. This does not stop Lesego and he continues to care and love each child in his care.

After the Gala Event where Lesego won the competition and was awarded the prize money I asked him on what he was going to spend the money first? He said without thinking that he would build a ramp for the wheelchairs to get into his care center!

Since then things have really improved for him and his care center.
After the exposure through our competition a French company got involved with them, he moved his care center to the nearby town where they can serve more children with better facilities.
Lesego himself went to France where he was taught special skills to help the children in his day care center!

All and all this have proven to be a huge learning curve for Lesego and we are glad to say he grabbed the opportunity with both hands!

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