Heart FM crew Lee-wade Castle, Kim-lee Schuller and Dylan Majavie hard at work at Vriendelike Voëltjies in Caledon. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - Day four of the annual Heart FM initiative, 16 Days for Youth and the core team of presenters and volunteers have left their mark at Vriendelike Voëltjies, a pre-school in Caledon. The team spent the day making improvements to the educare centre, both aesthetic and structural, which will now open doors for consideration for government funding.

16 Days for Youth is an initiative that aims to highlight those who  make a difference in their communities, often out of the generosity of their own hearts, taking care of those in need by digging deep in their own pockets and offering their time or resources.

Cathy Baadjies is one such individual. Five years ago she identified the need for an educare facility for the impoverished in Caledon. What started as a crèche she ran from home soon became too small to accommodate the number of children who needed daycare. Today, Baadjies rents four classrooms from the local primary school, which she often pays for out of her own pocket.

The non-profit organisation (NPO) sector is characterised by two types of organisations, the first being service driven and the second being organisations that focus on human rights, advocacy and monitoring. The former fulfils the role of providing much-needed social services to the  underprivileged. 

At present, South Africa has an extensive non-governmental sector consisting of about 100 000 registered NPOs and an estimated 50 000 unregistered ones.

Funding is a major obstacle. Donations, particularly from individual and private donors, have fallen substantially. The recession has also seen corporate social investment budgets cut, and as a result of reduced private and corporate donor funding, many non-profits have sought more funding from the government to keep afloat, increasing the competition for funds. 

Then there are compliance requirements, which are crucial to the issuing of certificates, therefore allowing for grants, which is a conundrum for most establishments that are privately run

Vriendelike Voëltjies is no different. Apart from the monthly rent, financial commitments include staff salaries, maintenance, toys, educational training and development. The minimal school fee charged is unreliable due to the low-income households that these children come from.

Heart FM rallied its resources and came to visit with building supplies, hardware, colourful paint and equipment to upgrade the playground and ablution facilities. A local team of handymen and plumbers were hired to refurbish the toilets and install a new geyser. The upgrade means that Baadjies can call the health inspector back almost immediately and apply for a grant.

“We have been given a second chance! This opportunity has been a true blessing – a gift from above. Timing is everything, and I was about to give up hope. Now we have a renewed sense of hope and pray we are finally that much closer to financial aid,” she said.

Ancillary services that have come on this year’s 16 Days for Youth initiative include a feeding scheme, oral hygiene and a barber. Tannie Magda from Paarl, a 2016 recipient of the project, is now able to give back by helping to feed those in the communities each day. 

Dentist Ryan Muller is providing free toothbrushes and toothpaste after educating the children about oral hygiene.

After being involved last year, he was approached by Colgate to run a mobile unit, which enables him to conduct outreach programmes in rural areas. This year, listener Warren Theunis approached the station to offer his services to those who can’t afford basic grooming such as a barber.

Heart FM Breakfast Show host Aden Thomas said: “This initiative is about more than just coming for a day and returning to our normal lives. It’s about making a real difference, creating sustainable solutions and leaving a legacy.  

"Through creating a platform we enable listeners, partners and clients to be involved with and make a difference in communities by becoming agents of change.”

* For more information about the initiative, go to http://16daysforyouth.com/
** Follow the journey on social media @Heart1049FM or @16DaysForYouth - #16DaysForYouth.

Cape Argus