Nocawe Mdoda, a young South African and the principal of an Early Learning Centre (ELC) in
Khayelitsha, Cape Town, is a role model and an inspiration to the youth in her community.
Mdoda is not only addressing the needs of early learners, but also seeking to inspire the lives of
young people who have little or no hope and who might be vulnerable to deadening this reality
with substance abuse, which then feeds the cycle of crime.
Mdoda is Principal of Ikhayalethu Educare in Khayelitsha. Together with a group of youth coleaders
she has assembled from the community of Khayelitsha, some of whom still attend school,
Mdoda meets on Saturday afternoons with 20 young people to inspire, motivate and guide them
to further their education and to work towards a future of hope rather than hopelessness. On
Mandela Day on 18 July 2016, Mdoda has a special event planned for them – but this is not all
that she plans to do.
Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network, in collaboration with AfriCAN Charity, has been
actively training Early Childhood Development (ECD) principals and practitioners from 15
community Early Learning Centres (ELCs) in Khayelitsha, Langa and Philippi East townships of
Cape Town since May 2015. To ensure sustainability of the training, support groups were
formed that meet regularly to journey alongside the practitioners, providing mentorship and
assistance. The practitioners have grown in confidence and skills, while the quality of the
service and learning programmes provided by the ELCs has been enhanced.
Mdoda, one of the principals who attended the training, has been a particular inspiration to the
other practitioners and has proved herself to be a leader. She assists in the facilitation of
workshops and in monitoring and evaluation processes. Mdoda has a Level 5 qualification in
Early Childhood Development and is currently studying Adult Basic Education and Training
(ABET) through the University of South Africa (UNISA).
Mandela Day 2015
The training that Mdoda received last year inspired her to give back to her community on
Mandela Day 2015 by providing an afternoon of fun and learning for the children in her
community. The training encouraged the ECD practitioners to use their creativity and resources
at hand, such as recyclable items, to enhance their ECDs. For the Mandela Day 2015 event,
Mdoda used only recycled resources and inspired the parents to interact with their children.
During the course of this year, 2016, Mdoda has been the victim of a number of attacks and
robberies whilst waiting for transport close to her home in Khayelitsha. This has highlighted for
her the fact that many youth in her community, who left the school system early with little or no
chance of employment, have joined gangs and are involved in drug-related activities.
Mandela Day 2016
Using her initiative and passion to work towards a safer community, Mdoda identified 20 young
people in her community between the ages of 16 and 20 and is planning an afternoon event for
them on Mandela Day 2016, to inspire them, bring them hope and help them to realise that there
is an alternative lifestyle to work towards.
The programme for her Mandela Day event will be motivational and will feature a variety of
speakers. One of them will be a youth from Mdoda’s community who will speak from the
experience of turning around his own life for the better. Now a lifeguard at the community
swimming pool in Philippi, he is motivating young people to stay at school and to realise their
Mdoda does not intend to stop at the Mandela Day event, but, using her ABET training, has plans
to open a centre in the evenings that will provide an opportunity for the 20 young people to strive
to further their education and to complete their matric qualifications, so igniting their hopes of
reaching their dreams.
The Mandela Day 2016 event will therefore be the start of a process whereby Mdoda hopes to
provide these first 20 young people with the opportunity of a new start. “HOPE is what inspires
and lights the dreams of young people. This is what Mdoda, with few resources, is passionately
striving for,” said Mhani Gingi Trustee and educationist, Joan Wright. “Let us acknowledge the
passion and drive of these young people and encourage others to take up the baton and follow
Growing up in poverty
“I’m 28 years of age and I love working with children all ages, gender and race. Growing up in
Khayelitsha has made me strong and I realised the importance of having my own Early
Childhood Development centre and starting a youth group called Sisonke (together),” said
Mdoda. “Growing up in poverty and a community that is exposed to many criminal
activities such as drugs, robbery and full of children dropping out of school and falling
pregnant has made me realise the need for an ECD of my own and a youth group to
motivate young people to change and achieve positive things.
“I’ve been a victim of crime three times in a year and I also had kids at an early age (of) 16 years
so I’ve realised that the youth of Khayelitsha is lost and have nowhere to go and find a
home to empower them for the future. They don’t deserve to be locked in jail or beaten
and killed but they need someone to help them for the journey of life and the challenges
that affect growing up.”
Nocawe’s passion for children started at an early age, when she was a dance teacher in
Khayelitsha. “I learnt how to communicate with children and became a ‘mother’ to many, young
as I was.
“As a result of this, I went back to study Early Childhood Development at Cape Town College. I
am currently studying ABET part-time through UNISA,” she said.
Building a strong foundation
Early Childhood Development (ECD) is a special focus of the Social Responsibility initiatives of
Mhani Gingi, in line with the organisation’s belief in building a strong foundation for
tomorrow’s society. In the 2015/2016 financial year, Mhani Gingi worked with 14 ECD centres
and 57 ECD practitioners in Nyanga, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Philippi, impacting on 600
children and their families.
Closing the gap through innovation and inclusivity
Many issues affecting the youth, including teen suicide, substance abuse, single parenting,
disability and mental health, will be explored when Mhani Gingi together with the 1.6 Million
Club South Africa and Akeso Specialised Psychiatric Clinics launch a series of Health Events in
Bonteheuwel, Cravenby Estate-Ravensmead, Nyanga-Philippi and Retreat communities of Cape
Town during July and August 2016. The theme of the Health Events will be “Closing the Health
Gap through Innovation and Inclusivity”.
The first of the Health Events will be a seminar to be hosted on 16 July 2016 by Akeso
Specialised Psychiatric Clinics for the eight ECD principals trained last year. The South African
Depression and Anxiety Group, SADAG, will provide speakers on health issues while The Light
and Healing Centre will supply two therapists to provide massages for the principals. African
Extracts, makers of rooibos skincare products, will donate gifts for them.
For further information please contact: Mhani Gingi Trustee, Joan Wright
Cell phone 072 040 3169. E-mail: