Lonwabo Centre for children with special needs, officially opened on Tuesday in Mfuleni. The centre that will cater for a bigger number of children from Mfuleni, Khayelitsha and other nearby areas. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Lonwabo Centre for children with special needs, officially opened on Tuesday in Mfuleni. The centre that will cater for a bigger number of children from Mfuleni, Khayelitsha and other nearby areas. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Joy as special needs school opens in Mfuleni

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Oct 14, 2021

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Cape Town - There were scenes of jubilation at Lonwabo Special Care Centre in Mfuleni on Tuesday, as parents celebrated the opening of a brand-new school for children living with disabilities.

The Lonwabo Special Care Centre is the first of its kind in Mfuleni and forms part of a Campus Development project for the non-profit organisation, Starting Chance.

It will include a centre for early childhood, space for specialised community projects and interactive outdoor play.

Thandeka Mfila, who started the centre at her home in Mfuleni in 2008 when she saw the need to care for children with special needs, said it was a dream come true.

"That's what the new building means to us after 13 years of struggle with space. We now can further our service by accommodating more children at Lonwabo and serving our children, their families, and our community in a top-class facility," said Mfila.

Thandeka Mafila, the founder of Lonwabo Centre for children with special needs, officially opened the centre. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Lonwabo Centre for children with special needs, officially opened on Tuesday in Mfuleni. The centre that will cater for a bigger number of children from Mfuleni, Khayelitsha and other nearby areas. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

She said those children were called the hidden children.

"I want to change that. The playground with practical resources will encourage children to play, and a lot of development will happen while playing. Big classrooms will enable different daily activities to help us cater to the children's abilities."

Thembakazi Tsoni, a parent of one of the children in the centre, said when her son started four years ago at the centre, he could not communicate and socialise with other children.

Starting Chance co-founder Ian Corbett said it was all about giving back, which was an incredible thing to be able to do right now, with so many lives impacted by Covid-19.

"Our disabled children are some of South Africa's most vulnerable young people. They frequently have no access to any early childhood development centres or support," said Corbett.

He said they were working hard to change that. "Your donation can change lives forever.”

He said the new Lonwabo Special Care Centre was the culmination of a partnership. Construction began in April, and despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the build is complete.

The centre has an initial capacity for 40 to 45 children from zero to 18 years of age. Corbett said through the generosity of donors, the school, equipped with specialised equipment, includes a custom-designed outside area.

Lonwabo Centre for children with special needs, officially opened on Tuesday in Mfuleni. The centre that will cater for a bigger number of children from Mfuleni, Khayelitsha and other nearby areas. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Ian Corbett the Chairperson of Starting Chance Board of Trustees addressing guest when officially opening the Lonwabo Care Centre for children with special needs. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

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