The Bulelani Day Care Centre in Delft has risen from its humble beginnings, as two dilapidated shacks in the backyard of its principals' property, to a NGO registered Crèche with formal infrastructure and flooring. The ECHO for Children Foundation, with the help of their sponsors, undertook the task of painting the walls of Bulelani in order to brighten the overall atmosphere of the Crèche. The white, chromadeck panels provided the perfect blank canvas for local talented artist and social upliftment entrepreneur, Ricky Lee Gordon aka Freddy Sam of Write on Africa, to work his magic. This is not the first time that ECHO and Ricky have collaborated. They also joined forces in the collaboration of the adidas Originals 3 Stories, World Cup Campaign - which they went on to win a Silver Loerie Award for.
Delft is a dismal area. The streets are home to a community of stray dogs and piles of easily recyclable rubbish cover the pavements. The odd spaza shop pops up with a burst of faded colour but other than this occasional instance, the environment is bleak. The impact of one's environment on one's psychological state is undeniable. It was with this important fact in mind that The ECHO for Children Foundation, set out to make a positive impact on the lives of the Bulelani children.
Bulelani cares for 96 children, most of who are at the Crèche from 07h00 until 16h00 everyday. The ECHO for Children Foundation wanted to include all 96 children, who range in age from babies to older children of about 7 years old, in the creative process. Most of the morning and afternoon was spent painting. Ricky outlined the lettering of Bulelani on the main wall and the body of the big, bold letters were filled in solely by the children's artwork. Initially, most were quite hesitant to cooperate and did not quite know how to approach the paintbrushes and paint, however with a little bit of guidance, they could not get enough of expressing their inner Picasso's. "The mural is not a perfect work of art but that was never the idea. It's beautiful in a childlike, bright and meaningful way" said Gemma Spickernell of The ECHO for Children Foundation.
Although recently being accredited with NGO status after The ECHO for Children raised the necessary funds through their 2010 fundraiser, Bulelani relies solely on donations and provides the children with two meals per day- breakfast and lunch. The ECHO for Children Foundation approached Faircape Dairy to sponsor products for the children. Faircape exceeded all expectations and packed Kate Linder's, of The ECHO for Children Foundation, car with a huge variety of yoghurts and even chocolate milkshakes. Maria, the Bulelani Principal, and the children were ecstatic and eternally grateful to have received this donation. Thank you Fair Cape. The ECHO for Children Foundation donated a supply of peanut butter, jam, bread and long life milk. A couple of mom's from Micklefield Girls Primary School in Rondebosch were also kind enough to donate 4 black bags of clothing which were handed over to Maria to distribute amongst the Bulelani girls.
People were given the opportunity to sponsor a kiddie's handprint. Children had their palms painted and printed them onto one of the smaller walls. All the prints came together to form a heart, with Maria's, palm printed in the middle. Bulelani is the heart of the community. It is a symbol of hope and love which provides safety and security to many children many of whom receive none of these fundamental things at home.
The Brightening Bulelani Project has added an element of happiness and pride to the lives of those who rely so heavily on the Crèche- the community, the staff, parents and most importantly the children. On behalf of ECHO and The ECHO for Children Foundation, we are blessed to have played a part in this inspiring and uplifting social development project.