About us

Because we can, because we care

Who are we?

Vision & Mission

Ithemba staff


Who are we?

Ithemba is a special daycare centre where mentally, and often physically, disabled children, aged between of 6-18 years, can go to. The intention of a special daycare centre like this is to give disabled children the attention and support they need (knowledge, time and means are usually insufficient in townships). Next to education and attention, Ithemba includes the teaching of basic life skills. In this way more independency is created. This is a very useful and positive development (especially for disabled children) as they can maintain themselves better in society. Furthermore, Ithemba tries to include parents in the program to expand their knowledge of different disabilities and how to cope with them.

This website will mainly provide information on Ithemba’s origin, vision & mission, and the attainment of future goals.


In September 1988, Jill Gardener, a social worker, Fezi Quma and Boniswa Gege (volunteers at that time and currently facilitators at Ithemba) were discussing the fact that mentally disabled children didn’t have the opportunity to educate and develop themselves because there was no special daycare centre. To examine the real need for such a centre they enumerated the level of demand within the townships. Especially parents of mentally disabled children were asked for their opinion. Apparently, the parents encountered a lot of problems which they were unable to tackle themselves. The biggest problems, appointed by the teachers, were lack of attention, lack of tools, stalled development and no independency. The early founders of Ithemba concluded, that the existing level of demand for a special daycare centre was huge and proceeded tot put the original idea into reality.

They started a centre for disabled township children that at first was run from an empty ward at Dora Nginza Hospital. As more parents heard about the centre the numbers of children attending increased. The ward became too crowded and the founders of Ithemba realized the need to build their own centre.

Land was purchased from municipality without any reduction in price ( such reductions were commonly given to sports clubs). Therefore, a brick- making project was started where mentally disabled adults were taught how to make bricks. These bricks were then used to build the centre. Emtonjeni Training Centre gave building courses- and in such a manner not only the new Ithemba centre came into being, but also many adults with intellectual disabilities got trained.

Daily programme at Ithemba

8h30-9h20 Arrival group 1- Going to the toilet/bathroom and individual work
9h20-9h30 Arrival group 2
9h30-10h00 Morning greeting, exercises, prayers (everyone is involved)
10h00-10h30 Breakfast- helping children that struggle with feeding
10h20-10h30 Cleaning toilets-assistants
10h30-11h00 Lesson of the day-including numeracy/colours/theme of the month
11h00-11h30 Creative-garden multi sensory-domestic work (help of volunteers and assistants)
11h30-12h00 Outdoor sports, games, singing, organized plays (mostly supported by volunteers)
12h00-12h25 Sounds and communications-words-story time
12h30-13h00 Lunch – supported by volunteers and assistants
12h45-13h00 Teeth brushing
13h30 Departure group 1 (volunteers take charge of group 2 until their departure)
14h30 Departure group 2