Eastridge educare closes its doors

The Eastridge Educare Centre in Leadwood Street closed its doors after 41 years. Pictured at the back is founder Beaty Roberts and the children who have attended the educare.

After 41 years of existence, Eastridge Educare in Leadwood Street has closed its doors.

Founder member, Beaty Roberts, 76, from Eastridge, affectionately known as Aunty Beaty, has led the Eastridge Educare for many years in office.

The space was initially known to be used by the Eastridge Civic Association, and some have passed on today, said Ms Roberts.

“I would teach the children at the educare. The teachers and I would also prepare the children for this so that they are in top shape with all the confidence they need to have. Former teacher Theresa Solomon (who is also a former Cape Town mayor) would always get the children ready for concerts,” said Ms Roberts.

When residents moved into the area 41 years ago, there was no educare available to the working parents, said Ms Roberts. Ms Roberts and her team got together to create the educare for the children of the area in Eastridge.

“My passion is working with children and the elderly. I am still serving children and elderly at 76; I love what I do,” said Ms Roberts.

The Eastridge Educare is closing as the property must be rezoned, said Ms Roberts. “At this age I cannot carry on. People have worked at the place previously, at the time I resigned. I always found myself back there, working and helping where I could. People trusted me,” said Ms Roberts.

Sub-council 12 chairperson Solomon Philander said the Eastridge Educare was established in the early 1980s to provide a crèche service to the community. During the years legislation changed and the Children’s Act regulated all care, protection and services to children in South Africa.

“The City in consultation with Ms Roberts and myself was in communication regarding the future of the City-owned property. Ms Roberts agreed to give the property back to the City as she was no longer able to operate the ECD,” said Mr Philander.

As part of the management of the facility they agreed that the property has to go to the next person on the housing database as two families will benefit from housing after waiting many years for a housing opportunity, said Mr Philander.

“We gave Ms Roberts and her committee the opportunity to remedy the situation to operate the ECD before the building was signed off. The situation became dire. In 2020 we had a temporary arrangement to allow U-Turn, an organisation which provided services to persons living on the street. This project terminated their services at the facility and moved closer to the Town Centre CBD,” he said.

“It is not about being capable or not. When a community organises themselves and takes ownership anything is possible. This unfortunately did not happen and the project could not take off without compliance of the Children’s Act hence the facility cannot be used for such activity,” said Mr Philander.

The City-owned building will be used for to provide two families a housing opportunity, said Mr Philander.

Mr Philander said Ms Roberts’ contribution to the facility and the community is appreciated. “She has been an excellent caretaker of the facility and of the people,” he said.

Ms Roberts said they are proud of the children who have come through the Eastridge Educare through the years.

Zaheer Galant, 11, who was previously at the educare, said he loved the porridge, taking naps, playing with his friends and eating “really good food”.

Kiano Cleophas, 13, said he loved running around the playground with his friends and the food that they served at the educare.

Bilqees Parker, 10, said she will miss her teachers, playing games with them and of course the food – which would always be the highlight.

Fayrooz Davids, 38, from Eastridge said she attended Eastridge Educare between 1985 and 1988.

“I remember teachers being hands-on with the children and the delicious food, this was the best part. Aunty Beaty has been a part of my life. The consistency of the teachers, always looking out for the children, you knew your children were taken care of and the educare making sure the children have a plate of food.

“The educare set a foundation for me and my future,” she said.

Ms Davids, who has completed her law degree, said educare is where the foundation is set for your life.

Ruggaya Abbass, 38, said her autistic son, Hamza Lakay, attended the educare before it closed.

“My son struggled to walk in his early years. The Red Cross Children’s Memorial Hospital recommended that he go to a daycare. The Eastridge Educare helped him walk and had daily activities. He comes from Aunty Beaty’s hands,” she said.

Former teacher at Eastridge Educare, Sumaya Peterson, also had a hand in helping Hamza walk.

There have been no bad complaints from any person, the children were prepared well and looked after, said Ms Abbass. “It was a safe haven with free play. We are all sad it is closing down. I looked forward to the future. It wasn’t only about money, but they cared for the children more than anything else.”