Yesterday, day 14 of the 16 Days for Youth initiative, highlighted the plight of the Ethembeni Edu-care facility in Khayelitsha, and the state of its premises. The Heart FM team went out to the township to lend a helping hand, with the help of corporate sponsors and listeners who donated much needed food and every day consumables.

Lindiwe Dlakane runs the educare centre in Khayelitsha out of a small building, from which she and her team look after 70 children aged between 18 months to 6 years. Dlakane, a grade R teacher, started Ethembeni Edu-care in January 2014 and has seen it grow exponentially since opening.

Parents have nowhere to place their children and need a safe place to leave them for the day while they seek employment or work in the City. Most of the parents are unable to meet the monthly fee of between R180 – R300 per month but the school cannot show anyone away. Financially it’s tough and often the carers dig deep into their own pockets to see that the children have at least two meals a day, decent educational toys and a safe, living environment.

Lindiwe was whisked off by the Heart FM team to the local retailer armed with a “blank cheque” and a shopping list. The elated principal could shop for non-perishables and food that would last them up to 3 months.

Lindiwe comments, “God himself is here today”, she continues, “I’m just a poor girl from a small village, I can’t believe this is happening to us”.

The home from which they operate is underwhelming and cannot actually accommodate the number of children it takes care of. The Heart FM team have committed to extending the kitchen space as well as build an additional room onto the existing house.

Now in its fourth year, 16 Days for Youth launched in 2016 by Heart FM. The aim of the initiative is to share the stories of ordinary people making an extraordinary difference in the lives of the youth in their respective communities. Each year the station identifies a number of these [projects] throughout the Western Cape that offer support in different ways; from feeding schemes to day care facilities, safehouses, sports and recreation. What they all have in common is the fact that they offer not only a haven for the youth in the area, but create opportunities to make a sustainable difference in their lives, either through education, coaching, feeding or empowerment projects.

The entire station shuts down from 01 – 16 June and broadcasts every day from 6am to 6pm from each location. While the station aims to fill these gaps itself over the 16 days, it also offers a platform for listeners to support these initiatives, either in their private or corporate capacities through either cash donations or volunteering their time for building, painting, feeding and entertaining the youth.

The project ends tomorrow, 16 June in Phillipi where the team will join Play Sport for Life, a non-profit organization which aims to improve the lives and well-being of our disadvantaged communities by providing athletic opportunities and using sports as a vehicle for a healthier lifestyle.

For more information about the initiative and the organisations involved in this year’s initiative, go to http://16daysforyouth.com/

Follow the journey on social media @heart104.9fm  or @16DaysForYouth

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