Higher education costs are often out of reach of the average South African matriculant; but David Sellar wants to help change this.
In 1 April 2001, he started the non-profit organisation Oliver’s House in Benoni in Gauteng to bring skills development, education, training, job creation and early childhood development assistance to poorer communities in the city.
“David is one of my friends and when I wanted to start an NGO (non-governmental organisation) he came to me with the idea that started our organisation,” said Terence Ferreira, chief executive officer at Oliver’s House.
“Our initiative is to help our students with improvements on mainly maths and science but we also look very closely into creative arts and farming,” said Ferreira.
Oliver’s House works with communities in Etwatwa, Wattville, Daveyton and along the East Rand.
A SELF-SUSTAINING COMMUNITY
“We have only two teachers at the moment and they have to go through our 90 students that come in for lessons,” said Ferreira, “however we are trying to improve our level of teaching and hopefully we will have more to give out to the students.”
The Oliver’s House education centre provides free assistance in maths and science for Grade 11 and Grade 12 students who’ve failed the grades and want to pass their supplementary exams.
“Each day we see the realities of educational inequity juxtaposed against the concrete evidence that when students in low-income communities are given the opportunities they deserve, they excel” said Ferreira.
“These students are the keepers of all South Africa’s potential and promise; we must work together to build the foundation of their success and provide them with the tools they will need to compete in tomorrow’s global economy,” he said.
The centre provides students with access to an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) programme, offering access to the internet and free computer skills courses for those students who don’t have access to the technology at home or at school. This improves their chances in the job market.
The centre also rewards pupils who excel: “Those who come out at the top of our class get to take home a computer,” says Ferreira. The education centre is led by Charles Mahlangu, who is also one of the teachers at the centre.
The Nomthandazo Children’s Care Centre is led by the founder Ndazi Mtshwene, with eight caregivers.
The Oliver’s House pre-school works with 210 children from the Zenzele informal settlement south east of Johannesburg and provides a safe, caring and loving learning environment.
“With a good foundation before starting school anyone can accomplish anything they desire and that is why we would love to help build inspiration from an early age” said Ferreira.
The organisation also runs a feeding scheme in Zenzele, providing free meals to children and families in the settlement. “Who can learn or work on an empty stomach?” asks Ferreira.
The organisation also has plans to build Oliver’s Village, with an HIV/Aids clinic, an organic farm and food forest, a children’s daycare facility, a community hall, a skills development village, children’s homes and an amphitheatre and learning centre.
The village will be environmentally friendly, using bio-gas, solar energy and an on-site generator for cooking and heating. The plot boasts a borehole producing 20 litres of high-quality water per second with additional rain and storm water harvesting systems, and grey water treatment systems.
The plot caters for two acres of grassland, two acres of food forest, one acre of food gardens, six acres for housing, the HIV/Aids clinic, classrooms, a playground and the amphitheatre.
“We would like to have more volunteers but mostly sponsors so that we can help create a country that works together; our journey to that idea is still taking its baby steps; we can make it if everyone works side by side.” said Ferreira.
PLAY YOUR PART