Westlake residents cannot miss Amazing Grace Upliftment Centre with its new mural.
The not-for-profit centre, which was painted on Mandela Day by staff from the Constantia-based Glen Avon Lodge Boutique Hotel, cares for about 46 children, especially those who have never attended school or have learning disabilities.
It all began when Lydia Ingpen, of Noordhoek, was struck with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Ms Ingpen has always been passionate about children and working with them. Bedridden for a long time and unable to work, she had lots of time to think about how she felt about people in the same position as she, who faced circumstances they were unprepared for.
She did some research which led to her and husband, Hugh, buying the house in Westlake as a base for Amazing Grace. That was two years ago. Not long afterwards, Ms Ingpen met Portia Dlakadla and Somi Mboya in workshops at the Westlake United Church Trust (WUCT).
These two women joined them and later Veronica Pahlana.
They do not earn a salary but are paid whenever there are funds available, which is not often. In fact the Ingpens have been funding the centre through a catering business they own, but, in order to formalise the centre, the non-profit organisation they set up needs to take over ownership of the
This is part of their big dream to expand the house on the corner of Lynx Way and Heron Close. Rotary Constantia is helping to draw up plans for this.
Ms Ingpen wants Amazing Grace to include space for a counsellor, occupational therapist, physiotherapist and speech therapist.
Ms Dlakadla said the centre also needed a vehicle to ferry the children to and fro.
She said they worked with children aged 5 to 12 who were struggling in the school system where classes could be as big as 50 with no teacher assistant.
“But, most importantly, we show them love and attention as many have had lots of trauma and trust is absent in many homes.
“We also give them confidence. Many say they can’t do something. We tell them they can. And we see how their lives change as they learn to read or do a puzzle,” she said.
Meanwhile the staff continue to attend courses to learn more about working with children.
When the Bulletin visited, the children were playing with large Lego blocks. Ms Ingpen said the staff had done a course on using the blocks to make it easier to teach children colours, numbers and shapes.
Later, the Ingpens’ daughter, Angelina, arrived from Reddam where she is a Grade 7 pupil.
She read to children, while Ms Dlakadla, Ms Pahlana and Ms Mboya made lunch for the children.
Mr Ingpen has supported his wife throughout and continues to do so.
“Lydia’s energy, body and spirit have connected and her recovery blows my mind. She’s intuitive and knows how to get the children to do things when they get out of hand,” he said.
Ms Ingpen said the community had seen that Amazing Grace was in the community to stay.
“We’re involved in broad upliftment projects including Women’s Day events and Kid’s Club at WUCT and giving food for a soup kitchen,” she said.
Wendy Drummond, of Glen Avon, said they had chosen Amazing Grace for their Mandela Day project because they had seen the walls needed painting, and branding.
“Our Mandela Day will be an ongoing project at Amazing Grace, and we will be continually involved in supporting the upliftment of the children and the community that surrounds them,” said Ms Drummond.
Geoff von Klemperer, of Constantia Rotary, said Amazing Grace was identified by them as a pro-
ject among about 100 preschools in Westlake. So
far they had paid for plans for the centre’s expansion.