Dolphin Educare Centre turns 40

Teachers Gadija Parker, Cathy Tsoloane, Edwina Solomons, Patricia Botha, Maud Jacobs, principal, Ursula Jacobs, Sylvia Kameel, Fatima Abrahams and administrator, Charlene de Villiers.

Dolphin Educare Centre in Strandfontein is celebrating their 40-year anniversary and the children and teachers were delighted to share
their experiences with the Plainsman.

A favourite recollection is the visit they had from the late and former president Nelson Mandela on Monday June 9 in 1997. As a gift to the late president, the children diligently practised to sing Shosholoza to Madiba who was thrilled with their rendition of the song.

Kyle Davids, who they are still trying to locate, was the only one to wear a Springbok rugby T-shirt which won Madiba’s attention that day.

In a letter on meeting Madiba, the late and former principal, teacher and administrator, Enid Johnson, who passed away in January this year, said the children ran after Madiba when he left and sang to him again. “The charisma and humbleness of the president was so evident you could feel it. I will never forget that day,” she said in the letter.

The educare started back in 1979 and was the first daycare in the Strandfontein area.

It started out as a creche in the home of Sandra Petersen in Tunny Crescent. They moved to Strandfontein community centre in Cruiser Way in 1981, and finally to their present building in Salmon Way which was completed in 1985. With their very own nursery, they are one of the educares which take children as young as 3 months.

“This building is a home away from home,” said principal Ursula Jacobs from Strandfontein. “We look forward to new adventures, there is never a dull moment. My favourite part about being here is the family vibe at Dolphin Educare – we work together to make everyone’s job easier. Also, seeing new babies at the educare for the first time brightens my day,” said Ms Jacobs.

A former Dolphin, Gaynor Eccles, said she was too little to remember all the good times they had as children. However, she does remember their rides in the double-decker Golden Arrow bus to the then Tygerberg Zoo.

When she was older, her late parents Elizabeth and David Francis were on the educare’s committee and very involved.

“My dad passed away when I was 16. My mom told me at that time, to go and help at the educare and not be bored and aimless. They hold a very special place in our hearts, and have helped my sister, Berenice Francis, and I through tough times. Dolphin is more than just a daycare, I would like to help them get back to their former glory,” she said.

Dolphin Educare faces some challenges. They are not able to use the play area as the wood has become damaged, said Ms Jacobs. “The ceilings have also been damaged and the ground is dry. The weather plays a big part in whether we can play outside or not. We are sustained through funding,” she said.

Educareadministrator Charlene de Villiers, whose 5-year-old son Liam also attends the educare, said he can’t wait to come to the educare in the morning. He has been at Dolphin for the past three years. “Sometimes we don’t really see the work that our teachers are doing. They work extra hard. My son enjoys doing his homework because he is so excited to show his teachers, who prepare him for school,” said Ms De Villiers.

Maud Jacobs, 79, from Strandfontein, better known as Ma Maud, said with teary eyes she loves working with the little babies in the nursery. “I will never leave this place, this is my happy place.”

Paying tribute to the former and current staff, Ms Jacobs said: “We are where we are today because of them.”

Concurring, educare chairperson Gavin Thompson said people like
Ma Maud, the late Ms Johnson, Zurina Abrahams, Ms Petersen and, former principals – their legacy will live on. “They set a perfect example for everyone as they invested their whole lives. They were very passionate about the growth of their children. Two of my children came through their hands. Ma Maud loves the children and builds a relationship with them. She is a like a grandma to them. When graduation comes it’s very emotional for everyone as they then leave for big school,” said Mr Thompson.

Former and first chairman of the Dolphin Educare Executive Board, Stephen Arrow, said he sees the educare as the building blocks of the Strandfontein community. “It was in reaching out and interacting with our parents that we were unwittingly building our community. Dolphin is now deeply rooted in our community and I look forward to the next milestone in its history,” he said.

Former Dolphins have gone on to become lawyers, accountants, teachers, and more.

The educare will be having a karaoke this Friday May 31, at the Dolphin Educare in Salmon Way, Strandfontein, from 8pm till late. They will also have a reunion snack dance in October. The educare is calling on all alumni, parents, non-teaching staff or anyone who was involved with the educare to contact them at educarecentre1979@gmail.com or 021 393 3471