Family centre is spreading hope

Special needs school
The Walvis Bay Child and Family Centre caters for over 100 children and youth living with disabilities.
Nikanor Nangolo
The Walvis Bay Child and Family Centre, also known as Sunshine Centre, is a non-profit welfare organisation that caters for over 100 children with disabilities in the harbour town.

Established in 1996, the centre has four broad programs namely special needs and education, therapy, job creation and skill strengthening as well as physio-social support.

It accommodates different disabilities such as physical disabilities and intellectual and mental disabilities. The centre caters for 112 children and youth, and 20 workers with disabilities, who with everyone else at the centre make up a total of 150 people. The centre is also home to an urban gardening program, bakery and an industrial kitchen.

The Sunshine Centre has eight special needs classes namely early child development (three to six years); grade R (inclusive class, 80% children with disabilities); special autism; physiotherapy also known as the “unicorns” (children with cerebral palsy or require physical therapy); special needs (for children with intellectual disabilities); youth (with youth and young adults with Down syndrome); needlework (girls with a mixture of different disabilities); and a wood work skills training program (young men also with a mixture of different disabilities).

According to the centre’s executive director, Luzelle Lestrade, the centre relies heavily on donor funding but also tries to generate its own funds through the bakery, catering and gardening sales.

“We are not yet at the point where we can be independent, so we rely mostly on institutions and individuals who support us to do the work that we do.”

Enrollment

Lestrade pointed out that the enrollment process will open at the end of September.

“We already have a waiting list for children who applied. For those parents who are interested in enrolling their children, we have an application process and parents can contact our office for the enrollment forms and we will look at whether we are able to accommodate the type of disability the child has.”

Garden and bakery sales

According to Lestrade there are a lot of individuals who buy from the centre’s garden.

“We sell our spinach, green beans and a few other things depending on what is available at the time. We sell to the public as well as businesses and we are very grateful for the partnerships.

“As for the bakery, we are still looking at how we can expand the service to make it available to individuals to buy from us. The bakery currently only bakes in bulk and we are grateful to our partner Promise Land who buys bread from us and use it for their school feeding programs.”

Supporting the centre

Lestrade invites individuals and businesses to visit the centre in order to gain knowledge on what happens at the centre.

“We rely very much on the partnership and support of businesses and individuals, so they are welcome to contact us for visits or discussions on how they can support the work that we do, we would really appreciate that.”

“There have been so many things happening at Sunshine Centre such as a recent concert we hosted. With all of these events, the purpose is to give our children all the experiences and opportunities that any other would get.

“It is important for the development and confidence of the children and also help them to integrate into the society,” she said.