The dozens of students attending Masizakhe Pre-School spent their days in several small shacks which had been deemed so unsafe and uninhabitable they did not qualify for a rehabilitation project. The school was declared a fire hazard by the fire and safety department and could not possibly qualify for essential government subsidies and benefits under the current circumstance. 


The government has become increasingly strict regarding the registration and subsidization of schools especially when  it comes to the physical safety of the children. Because school "buildings", especially for the youngest children,  are often corrugated tin or wooden shacks in deplorable condition, more and more of them can no longer be registered. This has lead to an increased and critical need for the construction of structurally safe classroom buildings.  

2019 UPDATE:

Masizakhe's 4 teachers and 96 students are thriving with the addition of our two-classroom building, renovation of the bathrooms, kitchen, and teacher's office plus a new covered, concrete play area.  This fall our partner constructed a senior club center on the same plot of land adjacent to the school and installed fencing, which has greatly relieved the school staff as they are located in an extremely high crime area.  Gary's Fund recently provided funding for teacher training and educational materials. We look forward to future updates.

2018:  Gary's Fund is proud to announce the completion of our largest school project to date, the Masizakhe Pre-School, located in the Western Cape Region of South Africa.  During the summer of 2017, we accepted a proposal from our partner in South Africa, Ikamva Labantu, and made a donation of $20,000  to fund the construction of a two-classroom building to house 45 students. It became possible to stretch this project adding:​

  • A complete renovation of the bathrooms and kitchen which were in deplorable condition

  • The construction of a covered, concrete play area.

  • The renovation of the teacher's office.

The school now meets the safety and fire standards required to register as a government school.  The entire community is thrilled and delighted with our project.  



Masizakhe Pre-school is run by a dedicated Mama Angelina who has done everything she can to make the school a happy and productive environment for her young students under exceptionally difficult circumstances.  

However, the corrugated tin roofs covering the overcrowded shacks were barely supported and leaked so badly the floors and walls were buckling and covered in mold.  The children spend long days at school in order to be cared for while their parents are away at work. They eat and sleep there. The mattresses they used were falling apart and needed replacing as did other furnishings and supplies.


Located about 12 miles from Cape Town, Gugulenthu Township was established in 1958. The name loosely translates into "Our Pride" in the Xhosa language which is spoken by about 90% of the population. During the Apartheid period black South Africans were barred from residing in cities such as Cape Town and were forced to relocate into townships such as Gugulenthu.


The township has one of the highest crime rates in the Western Cape. The crime is fueled by gang activity, overcrowding, poverty, and a serious problem with substance abuse. Unsupervised children are especially vulnerable. They tend to be cared for by dedicated "mama's" who will crowd them into little shacks for daycare and, when possible, some educational activities.



Masizahke Pre-School was founded by a "wonderful mama" Angelina Zenani who is "an exemplary leader and activist in her community."  In addition to running the pre-school she has established a sewing group for vulnerable adult women in the community, developed a food garden and seniors and youth groups. She also provides space for dance classes serving 15-20 older children.  Masizakhe can be loosely translated from Xhosa as “Let’s Build Ourselves."  For decades, Mama Angelina has been devoted to her community and is described by our partner as "an extraordinary woman, a  true community activist, leader and a caregiver who is remarkably deserving of support so that she can further build her community project and continue making a sustainable change every day."   


All photos provided by Ikamva Labantu with the exception of the photo of Gugulenthu Township from alamy stock photo (A1C63B.jpg).




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