Picture a Better World

Marina Jacobs welcoming the children. Karen Dreyer (left) in background. Photos and video: Melkbos.net

They were wide-eyed and solemn. Really, nearly too good for children between the ages of 3-6 years old…

The group of 20 underprivileged children who attend the Little Beach House pre-school in Melkbosstrand had their first art class at the Beach House Gallery @ MJ’s in Melkbosstrand yesterday. Here, gallery owner and artist Marina Jacobs guided them through the process of painting two pictures: A peaceful landscape and a stick figure.

With art something good happens
The head of the Melkbosstrand Community Centre, Karen Dreyer, who organised the event with Jacobs, sat nearby, watching. “Marina has adopted the school,” Dreyer explained. “She plans to make this a regular event. In art something good happens.”  All of the children come from Olive Close. Some of them have parents who are illiterate. None of their parents had the opportunity to attend pre-school.

According to Dreyer some of the children have been traumatised; and as a result of living in cramped conditions they have no sense of personal space. “By attending pre-school they are already ahead of their parents.” The art classes will nurture them, and help them with all of this.

For Dreyer the children’s extreme youth is a plus. “At this stage you can shape them. We can’t distance ourselves from these underprivileged children. They will be in school with our children one day.”

Dreyer spent two years in negotiations with the City, planning for a pre-school in Olive Close, only to see the negotiations fail due to lack of funds. R1 million was needed for three prefab classrooms, bathroom, kitchen and sickbay.

Continues to dream on their behalf
Despite the let-down Dreyer continues to dream on behalf of the children. All in all there are 58 local children who can’t be accommodated in mainstream schools. What Dreyer needs is a venue outside the 5 km exclusion zone of Koeberg power station.

As the 20 children painted a picture of an idyllic green landscape yesterday Dreyer explained that the school gets its only funding from the sales at the Koop & Gee Winkel. It’s hard to comprehend that the little charity shop on the grounds of the NG Church manages to pay the salaries of the children’s three teachers.

For every six children there’s a teacher
The number three is important. Having three teachers means there’s a teacher for every six children at the Little Beach House school. According to Dreyer this ratio is the key to success with the children. One of the children attending yesterday’s art class was born with foetal alcohol syndrome, but thanks to the close supervision he gets at the Little Beach School he does not lag behind the others.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” Dreyer remarked while the children painted their pictures of a better world.
The Beach House Gallery @ MJ’s sponsors the art classes with the sale of paintings at the gallery.




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