When it comes to social duty, you won’t find a better definition than that of Nelisiwe Khuluse. Realising that the appalling decline in developing skills of young children in her local community, was chiefly because their mothers couldn’t afford the average day care centre fees – the mother of two took it upon herself to find a constructive solution that benefits all.
“I could no longer endure seeing these young kids in my community roam the streets unattended during the day and had to do something,” she says. The 61-year-old’s unyielding efforts to help give KwaMashu’s children food, shelter and education has not gone unnoticed thanks to the Bring it Home with BB Bakeries campaign. Running over ten weeks, the campaign aims to recognise inspirational innovators, pioneers, and community leaders who, despite facing extraordinary challenges, have exemplified the old saying of “izandla ziyagezana” (one hand washes the other) and demonstrated “Ubuntu babo” (their humanity).
Mrs Khuluse worked with young children in a creche for 13 years. “I have always loved children and with my childcare experience, I decided to transform my modest home for the greater good of the community and accommodate the kids in need during the day to ensure that they are safe and able to start learning at an early age,” she adds.
Lethuxolo is a fully operational Early Childhood Development Centre that was launched in 2021. Her garage space is used to look after kids between zero years and three, while a newly built shed in the garden houses older kids, between four and five.
Even more remarkable is the fact that Mrs Khuluse does everything from cooking and providing meals for the kids during the day to helping with their learning, reading, and writing.
Most of the parents of the 50 children she currently looks after, are themselves young teenagers who still need to go to school. It means her free childcare operation is a full time offering requiring constant overseeing and very little respite. Doors at Lethuxolo are open from 6 am right through to 7 pm every day during the week and sometimes even on the weekends to cater for those parents attending Saturday classes. Regardless of the long hours, Mrs Khuluse remains as passionate and determined as ever to help change the fortunes of the next generation.
The Bring it Home with BB Bakeries campaign launched in September 2022, after the local bread manufacturer wanted to celebrate the phenomenal community activism seen in the KwaMashu and Umlazi communities during the pandemic, and corresponding floods as well as the devastating riots. During those difficult times, unsung heroines like Mrs Khuluse have played an instrumental role, working behind the scenes to feed, protect, support, and serve others in their community, but until now, their triumphs have fallen off the radar.