SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT: Heart FM visited Jolene Thompson’s ECD centre in the impoverished settlement of Mount Pleasant, close to Hermanus, which services poverty-stricken communities in surrounding townships. Picture: Heart FM
Cape Town - A small structure in the middle of a street showing visible signs of poverty is where you’ll find Care and Share Educare.

But don’t let squalid appearance fool you. You’re greeted by peals of children’s laughter, bright colours and the thuds of little feet on carpet.

Older children sit around a table concentrating on getting the crayon colours perfectly shaded within the lines.

The teachers are obviously doing something right here, the children are happy and learning and the limited space available has been used creatively.

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Care and Share Educare is an ECD centre in Mount Pleasant that endeavours to create a safe learning environment filled with love and learning.

Mount Pleasant, between Hermanus and Sandbaai, is a small town that although plagued by unemployment remains a hopeful community. It was inaugurated in 1930 as a coloured township, and neighbouring Zwelihle was later established to serve as a black township.

The area hasn’t seen much of a change in demographics although a lot of integration has taken place.

The early economy of this town was fishing but has over the years expanded to include wine farming and retail, boosting employment in the township areas.

Unemployment remains a major challenge, giving rise to a number of socio-economic issues such as food insecurity, drug abuse and small-scale poaching.

The people of Mount Pleasant are determined to make the most of what they have and cater to community needs.

It’s a close-knit community, outsiders are treated with courtesy and there is a pervading air of congeniality.

Local parents trust “Tannie Jo” to take care of their children while they work.

Jolene Thompson, 55, a mother of five, is the head of Care and Share Educare Centre and started this crèche due to a demand for centres where children could be safely taught, given nutrition and looked after.

Her dream was to build an environment where children from all walks of life could be brought to learn from each other and receive the education they deserved.

She began caring for four children, but word spread and she had a waiting list.

“I always tell my teachers that if you don’t have love and patience then you cannot work here. Anyone can open an ECD centre, but if there is no love and patience then it is useless,” she said.

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The centre has a staff of three teachers and 36 children. It opens at 7am after she collects the children from their homes and they are provided with breakfast

Where most communities living in squalor tend to fall into a mentality of defeatism, Mount Pleasant locals are determined to improve themselves.

Heart FM visited the centre on day 12 of its #16DaysForYouth and donated new mattresses, food parcels and a jungle gym, and installed new doors. Children were also treated to dental screenings courtesy of Dr Ryan Muller’s mobile dental service.

“I don’t believe the support we have seen today. I prayed and asked for a bit of help but this more than exceeds my expectations,” said a teary-eyed Thompson.