11 April 2018 Photo Oteng Mpete
UFS medical students improve life for kids at Lethabo Daycare Centre
UFS medical students donate furniture for the Lethabo Daycare Centre at the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. From left front are: Anda Gxolo, Tshepo Ntoule, the daycare centre principal Selina Keta, Andrea Bailey and Yenziwe Mbambo. Back from left: Ilyas Moola Malibongwe Jiyane, and Yusuf Moola Umar Kajee

There is strong evidence to suggest that improving a caregiver’s knowledge has an impact on a child’s development. This is according to the Human Sciences Research Council. With this in mind, medical students from the University of the Free State (UFS) decided to work with a children’s daycare centre in order to improve the quality of care.

The students, from the School of Clinical Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences, were encouraged to assist NGOs in and around Bloemfontein, as part of their community service curriculum. They needed to look at hygiene, sanitation, cognitive development, physical development, vaccinations, prevention of diseases, nutritional status, socio-economic status, as well as the children’s environment. Moreover, they needed to highlight how a deficit from one factor could affect the other factors.
Through a meta-analysis study of 67 interventions regarding the above points, the students found most interventions to be generally effective in improving the children’s lives in one way or the other.
Selina Keta, the principal of Lethabo Daycare Centre in Mangaung, provided a list of problems she faced and ways in which the students could help to improve the conditions at the centre. She noted that the kitchen needed fixing because it did not meet the specifications required by the Department of Education for registration. The main issue was that the gas bottle for the stove was inside the kitchen and had to be moved out. The kitchen also needed steel counters, a sink, and running water. The students moved the gas bottle outside, and provided a fire extinguisher and first aid kit. They also provided a teacher at the centre with first-aid training from St John in Bloemfontein.

The students made sure there was running water and donated cupboards and microwaves to the centre. They also helped build two new classrooms, and there are plans for a third one to cater for different age groups.
As a final gift, the students painted the playground walls and arranged for the teachers to attend skills development workshops. They are also building a toy library for the centre.

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