GM: Innovative Green School Opens in Joe Slovo Township


Children from the Silindokuhle Crèche in the impoverished Joe Slovo Township today received a major boost towards their education in the form of a newly built school.

This project was initiated by the Love Story, the Port Elizabeth based non-government organisation (NGO) that runs community upliftment projects, education programmes and feeding schemes, who applied for initial seed funding to the General Motors (GM) ChildLife Foundation through the Williams Hunt Uitenhage dealership. The GM Childlife Foundation is an initiative of General Motors South Africa (GMSA), its dealer network and GMSA Financial Services.

When a proposal to build the school landed on the desk of Frikkie Venter, General Manager at Williams Hunt Uitenhage, he recognised the need to support the project. Venter said the GM ChildLife Foundation is committed to the learning and development of children in a safe environment. “This crèche gives peace of mind to working parents, knowing that their children are being taken care of in a place that is equipped to provide a better education. We are pleased to have partnered with Love Story to bring this project to fruition,” he said.

The original Silindokuhle Crèche was started in 2011 by Patricia Piyani who looked after ten children from her home. In 2012, as the need grew, Piyani managed to secure a public open space with the help of her local councilor, where she built an informal structure to accommodate the increasing number of children. However, this building was unsafe and underequipped to deal with the 82 children it currently houses.

Piyani expressed her gratitude and excitement for the new premises. “I am overwhelmed with so much joy. They built such a beautiful new school for my children. To go from a shack to this is such a blessing. “I cannot thank Love Story and all the role players enough for making this dream a reality,” said Piyani.

According to project manager, Kevin Kimwelle, an architect that volunteers for Love Story, the R100 000 seed funding put them on track to start preparation work for the first phase, the construction of an innovative “green” building.  Designed and built by young French architects from the French studio, SAGA, from 350 wooden pallets (donated by Coca-Cola), 1500 wine bottles, collected from restaurants in Richmond Hill and a number of other reusable materials, the eco-friendly school boasts new classrooms, a fully functional kitchen and flushable toilets.

Kimwelle explained that before erecting the structures, the prototype designs were tested with the help of Engineers Without Boarders at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

“We partnered with a number of companies who were only too eager to help once they saw what the project was all about. Materials which we did not get for free, we bought at discounted rates,” he said.