Lesedi Day Care Centre
Madikwe Game Reserve is the home of Madikwe Hills and is managed by North-West Parks Board (NWPB), an organisation operating under provincial government’s guidance. This reserve was established with the aim to promote economic and social upliftment of the community as well as protection, conservation and propagation of indigenous wild animals and indigenous plants. Due to this vision, Madikwe Hills is focusing on Lesedi Day Care Centre as our community project, as per the agreement to form a joint mission with the game reserve.
Lesedi Day Care Centre is located in Rietpan, a village about 82km southwest of Madikwe Hills. It takes about 1 hour and 45min to drive from the lodge to the village.
Rietpan is home to five of our staff members. Although most of our staff members are from closer surrounding villages, we chose Rietpan as the other Madikwe lodges are supporting the nearby villages like Supingstad (Tuningi Safari Lodge, our sister lodge, is supporting the primary school there) and Molatedi. Also, Lekgophung village has their own community lodge in Madikwe Reserve, Buffalo Ridge, and so does Molatedi village, Thakadu River Camp.
Lesedi Day Care Centre is owned by Regina Senna, a Motswana lady who was born and raised in Borakalalo village, 22km south of Rietpan. As a young adult, Regina spent some time assisting her aunt at a creche in Klerksdorp. This, as well as her love for children, has inspired Regina to open her own creche. Lesedi Day Care Centre started in 1995 but had to close due to financial difficulties. However, due to Regina’s passion and determination, Lesedi Day Care Centre was officially reopened again in 2005. Regina manages her establishment with no funding or support from any other organisations. The cost per child to be minded from 07:45 until 17:00 is R150 per month. Some of the parents can not even afford R150 per month per child, but she tends to those kids even though the parents are not paying.
With the money she receives from parents, Regina employs 3 other ladies to assist her with the daily activities, plus she feeds the kids a simple but nutritious meal every day. At present there are a total of 18 kids between the ages of 3 months and 5 years old in her daily care. The establishment currently has one building with two rooms, a classroom and a utility room. There is one dry/waterless toilet (long-drop) about 30m from the building. Regina is proceeding with expansion of the facility by building a kitchen and office as funding becomes available.
Madikwe Hills recognized the timeless efforts Regina has already put in to make her dream work and therefore decided to support her in her mission to care for children as they are, in fact, the future of our country. Madikwe Hills has established a team to lead the project: Kega and Irene Gaopelo are the project managers and Ezelle van Dyk is the administrator. Together they have investigated the situation at the Lesedi Day Care Centre and brainstormed ideas to put into action.
The daily challenges come down to basic infrastructure and needs: Security, water, electricity, funding, and food. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time… We accepted this long-term project as a whole and divided it into separate phases. Phase 1 kicked off on 3 February 2022 – securing the property by fencing off the perimeter. The fencing is almost complete as of today, 8 March 2022, whereby we will be continuing with securing the buildings through installing locks, burglar bars and safety gates. Slowly but surely phase 2 – water supply – will integrate with phase 1 in order to speed up the whole process of establishing infrastructure.
Recently the village of Rietpan has been supplied with a water system whereby water pipes have been laid down the streets. It is up to each individual home or business owner to connect to the water at their own expense. Regina has looked into drilling a borehole in the past, however, due to layers of dolomite rocks this is not possible. The plan is for Madikwe Hills to assist Regina by connecting to the water supply of the village as well as installing a harvesting tank to collect rainwater in the summer. Once the tanks have been installed the plumbing in the building will be attended to, as well as a bathroom for kids and staff with flushing toilets and basins for washing hands.
Phase 3 will play an integral part with the installation of water tanks as pumping water requires energy, either from the national electricity supply or solar. Once we have established a sustainable infrastructure, the plan is to commence with the growing of fresh produce to alleviate the cost of monthly shopping, to generate income by selling to the local villagers and assist with feeding the old and homeless. With regards to generating income, Madikwe Hills is also planning to partner with a local entrepreneur who has his own transfer business in order to offer day trips to guests to Rietpan. With these day trips the plan is to educate guests on the Tswana culture by visiting the Lesedi Day Care Centre, a local tavern and meeting a traditional healer to inform them firsthand on the natural remedies found in the bush.
This community project will also strongly rely on donations, either money or items which are used daily, for example: tinned food or nappies and, as the gardening phase approaches, gardening tools and seeds. Therefore, Madikwe Hills is raising awareness and calling upon the public to contribute in whichever way possible.
The objective of this project is for Madikwe Hills to assist in such a way that Regina will be able to manage her business independently and sustainably. Once the “training wheels” come off, Madikwe Hills will find another project to support and lead to successful independence and sustainability.