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‘For many years, I used to look out the window at the children playing and dream of having my own day care. I wanted a place where children could learn, where I could help them develop their potential. That dream finally came true in Hout Bay.’

When Sophia Morris started Jelly Tots in 2008, a day care in Imizamo Yethu, she wanted to make a difference for the children in her community. She had spent most of her life in education, working as a day mother, an au pair and a teacher, and she knew that early childhood education was essential to giving children a good grounding to life. With nothing other than her determination, Jelly Tots began.

In 2021, Jelly Tots is now a full-functioning school with six teachers and 54 pupils. There are four classes based on age, and the children range from 2-5 years old.

‘Our main purpose is to prepare children for school. We teach them important educational skills like reading the alphabet, counting numbers, how to hold a pencil and write their name. But we also teach them social skills like how to work together, how to share, how to listen and help each other. We try to prepare the children as best as possible.’

Sophia explains that early learning is essential to growth but life in Imizamo Yethu is hard and many people lack the resources to provide quality education for their children. One of her goals is to provide a community service that is affordable, accessible and meets the needs of the community.

‘Things got really difficult during COVID-19,’ comments Sophia. ‘A lot of children were eating cheap, unhealthy food and we saw a direct impact on their learning – they struggled to concentrate, to pay attention. Love in a Bowl came at just the right time.’

Sophia explains that since the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, Love in a Bowl started supporting Jelly Tots by providing a weekly community pot of fresh, organic vegetables to help feed the children. With these vegetables, the children now receive a hearty meal five times a week. Sophia has noticed a significant difference in the children – they are more active, more excited to learn, and healthier all round.

‘Love in a Bowl is so important in the community,’ says Sophia. ‘They’re not just helping schools, they’re helping all those in need, all those who don’t have a meal to go home to at night. We need to hold hands in times of difficulty and stand together. This is how you build a community – by spreading the love.’

Jelly Tots is always trying to provide a better learning environment for their children. If you would like to support them, contact Sophia Morris at 078-318-5419

Words and images by Kiara Worth