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On a chilly Wednesday morning, the playground is alive with activity. Two children race past in a game of tag, there is a swoosh as another speeds down a slide, and an eruption of cheer as a group of girls make their way across the monkey bars. There are smiles and giggles everywhere, from the jungle gym to the sand pit to the classroom. It’s just another morning at Best Buddies Educare Centre in Hout Bay.

‘Best Buddies is a home away from home,’ explains Tasja White, principle and owner. ‘We work to create a safe space where children can learn and grow together. We focus on developmental skills, educational skills and overall school readiness, ensuring these precious young minds have a good foundation to life.’

As a well-known educentre, Best Buddies is a community institution with a 35-year history in Hout Bay. They currently care for 61 children, ranging from the ages of 3 months to 5 years, spread across five classes. The 15 teachers and staff offer a holistic full-day service, ensuring the children get the individual attention they need to thrive.

Since taking over in 2019, Tasja explains that she has focused on integration, ensuring their services are accessible to the children that need it most. In South Africa, approximately 75% of children do not have access to early childhood development and this is something Tasja wants to change.

‘We are currently sponsoring 20 children to attend the school that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. We’re trying to make a difference, to give these children the opportunity they deserve.’

‘We live in a beautiful, diverse and multi-cultural society and that’s what we’re trying to create at Best Buddies,’ continues Tasja. ‘We have children from all kinds of backgrounds – English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Spanish, German, Malawi. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, we can all learn and play together.’

As part of their full-day program, all the children receive a cooked breakfast and lunch, including snacks throughout the day. Since 2021, Love in a Bowl started supporting Best Buddies by providing a weekly community pot of fresh, organic vegetables to help support the school. The vegetables are used to provide balanced meals for the children, essential to promote their learning and development.

‘Love in a Bowl is wonderful,’ comments Tasja. ‘Not only do they help fulfil that basic need of providing food, but they do it with this incredible sense of community and love. It’s an amazing initiative and we’re thrilled to be part of it. At Best Buddies, we believe we have the opportunity to shape young minds for the better and by acting in love and teaching children how to share the love, this is how you change society.’

But the connection between Love in a Bowl and Best Buddies doesn’t just end with their weekly delivery. All the vegetables grown by Love in a Bowl are produced locally, grown on land donated by different Hout Bay residents. In May 2021, Tasja volunteered some of her land to become a new growing plot for Love in a Bowl vegetables.

‘We now have crop circles growing at our home, here in Hout Bay,’ comments Tasja. ‘It’s amazing to walk out into your garden and to know that you’re part of something, that you’re doing your part in some way. I think a lot of people want to get involved with building their community but they just don’t know how. Love in a Bowl is a great place to start – they know how to bring people together, and when you start with love, anything is possible.’

If you would like to support Best Buddies or help with their sponsorship program, contact Tasja White at 063-307-4121 or info@bestbuddies.co.za