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South Africa: Acacia Tree Nursery School

The Acacia Tree Nursery School is a small Waldorf nursery in the village of Chintsa-West on the east coast of South Africa. A total of 20 children between 3 and 6 years are cared for. The children are from very poor circumstances. In the Waldorf kindergarten they find a loving place where they can blossom and be simply a child.

The Acacia Tree Nursery School was first established in January 2009 by Barbara Müller, a retired Waldorf teacher from the Michealmount Waldorf School in Johannesburg. The kindergarten started with a small group of eight children housed in a room in her house. Except for one little Xhosa boy, all the children came from English speaking families.

Now, some years later, the kindergarten is no longer housed in her bedroom, but in a large tin house. More than twenty little Xhosa children who arrive by taxi each day, are fed breakfast of porridge and then, with great enthusiasm – the day begins!

The three Xhosa ladies who now run the kindergarten and who had an in-training over the years have created a beautiful environment where these little boys and girls can be safe and are loved and cared for.

The children come from two villages where life is hard – no running water, no electricity in most homes, service delivery almost non-existent with often overflowing garbage bins, pigs snuffling through the mess and rubbish blown along the streets. Wooden shacks stand precariously at the side of rough roads and in the evenings and weekends the noise from the shebeens (drinking houses) is intense. Unemployment is high and many of the children come from single parent homes with the mother often the sole bread winner and working as a domestic helper.

 In the last years more people from the villages, who know our teachers and who get to hear about the kindergarten, want to send the children to Acacia Tree. They see how the children have blossomed and who those who have gone on to primary school have managed and developed.

Dominic, the little boy who walked through the door on that very first day is just such a child. He now goes to the African Angels Independent School and is a wonderful Class 6 pupil. The two years Dominic spent at Acacia Tree gave him the foundation he needed and opportunity for a quality primary school education at the African Angels school, as he travels the road to reaching his full potential.

The sad part is however that many of the parents are unable to pay the fees that keep the kindergarten doors open. As a non-profit organization we rely solely on donations and whatever fees parents can pay. This obviously leads to uncertainty as to whether the kindergarten will be able to continue in the year to come, sometimes even the next term.

September 2017

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