My journey at Play Africa started when I was hired to be a Play and Learning Facilitator through the FirstRand Ltd First Job Programme, with Rand Merchant Bank. Working at Play Africa was my very first job. At first it was humbling. I had to put my ego aside. I had to learn how to talk to kids, and how to work at their level. I had to also learn to think outside the box. Each day I was having to do things that I had never done before in my life. My experience at Play Africa taught me to become a teacher, how to become a storyteller, and how to lead.
Play Africa is closed now due to the COVID-19 crisis. I am staying in Dobsonville, Soweto, with my Mom and Dad and my six sisters, a baby brother, and my nephew.
Before the lockdown, at first everyone was scared about what was going to happen. Definitely the children don’t understand why they should stay inside. We have an aluminum fence, and through that they can see people outside. It’s not the normal life that they are living. But my family, I guess we saw the brighter side to it — that we would be close. It’s not in our hands, so it is nothing to stress about for us. For other families it might be different, and it might be stressful for them.
We’ve always been a united family. This has actually made us stronger. I’ve seen everyone come up with different kinds of games. My younger siblings love playing cars and Xbox, or running around the house and making noise. They also play “House, House” under the table. They are happy – as long as they are not sitting still and can run around the house. That helps them not think about the fact that they can’t see their friends.
We are always in the living room all together, which makes my Mom happy, because that’s what she wants. It takes us away from technology. We do a lot of reading. The children need to read and study. The adults are upskilling ourselves as well, because when this is over, everything is going to be fast-tracked and we need to keep up with the times. We’ve set up time tables to make sure that nobody falls behind. It’s been a wonderful journey. The benefit is that we can all be together, in one living room, and we can see who each other is as a family.
The secret to our closeness would be the foundation of love, and treating everyone the same irrespective of the age. At the end of the day, my parents believe that we are all capable of doing more and at the same level as them. In the spiritual area, we depend a lot on God. My Dad is a pastor. Even though there is no church, we gather together as a family due to social distancing. We read the Bible every night and on Sunday we have a devotion to uplift our spirits. We pray, just to stay encouraged. You wake up at midnight and you hear my Mom praying for each and every one of the kids, and it gives you the power to go forward.
We need your help to provide children with the play environments and learning tools they need and deserve.