The big city life of Johannesburg can be somewhat distracting at times –  we get caught up with work and personal life and at times forget how fortunate we actually are to have a job and a roof over our heads.

To this end, we’d like to share our passion for a special local community by introducing you to The People for Ukajede Foundation – eight crèches situated in Johannesburg East that lie close to the heart of team Birchwood. Situated near to the hub of Ekurhuleni business, these crèches take care of the basic needs of the children (aged three months to six years) in the area’s informal settlements, who are orphans or whose parent(s) are struggling to stay afloat due to the difficult socio-economic factors many South Africans face.

When Birchwood first started in 2003, the UKAJEDE (an acronym for five informal settlements in the area) Foundation had no support from corporates, small businesses or the public. We visited these crèches, met the soulful and self-sacrificing women in charge and witnessed the long list of things that these communities desperately needed. We set ourselves the goal of providing these children with their basic human rights – the rights to basic nutrition, shelter, and a basic education.

So now, 14 years later, once a week, our Ukajede Foundation Coordinator, Tumi Phosa, orders and delivers groceries and other necessities to each crèche on behalf of the Birchwood team and checks for any other things that need to be urgently addressed.

“I love my job at Birchwood Hotel because it allows me to get involved in helping out in various areas of the community. My mission is to make things possible when they seem impossible for the community to achieve,” says Phosa.

Each crèche takes care of between 35 to 130 children and, with these numbers on the rise, the Foundation struggles to keep up with addressing their needs.

“We’d like to encourage more corporates to join us in supporting and driving awareness of this wonderful initiative,” says our director, Kevin Clarence.

Among the core concerns for these crèches are structural issues – leaking rooves and toilets and a desperate need for a fresh coat of paint on the walls. As these issues arise, with the help of the generous donations of various building and maintenance suppliers, we send in our internal maintenance team to fix these maintenance problems.

Education is a top priority and foundation phase children need to learn best through educational toys and books, which are in short supply. We encourage our staff and those passing through our hotel to drop off any educational supplies at our reception so that we can distribute these items equally among the crèches.

The Ukajede Foundation also helps older children, aged seven to teenagers, by funding their schooling at Balmoral College in Boksburg and aims to inspire them to pursue the career of their choice. The Foundation has identified 29 children in the community who need schooling, which we pay monthly fees for and encourage them do their best at school. There are many more children that still need to go to school in the area, and here we appeal to corporates and individuals to assist us with this worthwhile cause.

“There are at least 100 children in these communities that still need to go to school, we need additional sponsors who are willing to make this dream a reality,” says Phosa.

At Birchwood, we make a point of remembering how fortunate we are and would like to invite our larger community to join us in this worthwhile and inspiring cause. If your company or you as an individual would like to contribute to the health and development of these children, please get in touch with Tumi Phosa on (072) 109 0139 or tumi.phosa1@gmail.com. If you would like to know more about the Ukajede Foundation, visit the official website and like their Facebook page.

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