By Nadim Nyker
At the Lebone Centre, the children’s faces were lit up, compelled by Treiahn Chiwanza’s performance of Old McDonald. After he finished playing the song on his guitar, it was the kids’ turn. Haphazardly and happily, they tried strumming for themselves.
“It’s nice that they’re doing music because last term they studied different musical instruments for their project. So to see instruments up close and interact with them; it’s a treat,” said Sarah Williams, a helper at the centre and PGCE student at Rhodes University.
Rhodes students travelled to the Centre on Wednesday, 29 July, to run a workshop called “Guitar and using your body to communicate”. Treiahn Chiwanza and Sisesakhe Ntlabenzo headed the workshop with the children aged 5-13. Ntlabenzo focused on body movements and energy exercises that enhanced presentation and vocal ability, whilst Chiwanza taught guitar.
The children were motivated by Ntlabenzo’s spirit and spunk as he brought laughter and instilled confidence in the little ones. “The best part about it is always seeing the smiles come across their faces when they try something new,” he said
The Lebone Centre focuses on childhood development and runs an aftercare program devoted to improving maths and literacy skills. However, the Centre does more than merely providing academic help – it fosters social skills, hygiene and etiquette.
“We have identified different children in the area that are considered vulnerable. Some of them are referred to us by child welfare. Every afternoon they come here after school and they’re fed a hot meal. Sometimes they get extra little treats depending on what’s going on,” says Williams.
The development project, although successful, has been an uphill battle for house mother, Aunty Joy, and the rest of the staff. “With the children, and especially the community they come from, they deal with a lot of neglect and abuse. Since we care so much and try to do so much, it affects us a lot. We have to make difficult choices and that may not always be what they want, but it’s always in their best interests.”
The Lebone Centre opened in 2006 with their main sponsor being Kenrich Motors and the National Lottery. They cater for primary school children predominantly from the Joza community and have received continuous help from Kingswood College.