“I can’t wait to be watching the news one day, see an influential leader and tell my grandkids, ‘I taught that little boy or girl when they were just three years old’,” says Manding Gladys Ngubane, a SmartStarter from Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal. This is what motivates her.

Growing up, Manding had always wanted to become a teacher. She wanted to help South Africa’s young people have a better future. However, Manding’s parents passed on while she was still in high school. Her dream to become a teacher and work with children seemed almost impossible to achieve. That was, until years later, she found out about SmartStart.

Manding joined SmartStart in October 2016. Within the year, she had doubled the number of children in her programme. The community saw an immediate difference in their children and gave her their full support.

Manding now puts her whole heart and soul into the SmartStart programme. During the day, she works with children. In the evening, she does home visits to meet with parents and caregivers. During these visits, Manding teaches them how to continue early learning in the home.

“During winter, some of the children get flu and cannot come to the SmartStart programme,” she says. “So I go to their homes on my off days and check on them. Most of the children in my community live with their grannies, so I sometimes offer to take the child to the clinic when they are unable to,” adds Manding.

Because of Manding’s hard work and dedication, she is now a club leader. As one of the most promising SmartStarters in her area, she was selected by her Franchisor, LETCEE, to go to Cape Town, where she learnt about the importance of the first 1,000 days.

Manding’s goal is to increase the number of SmartStarters in her area. She wants to make sure that even more children have access to quality early learning and a smart start in life. She knows that the investments we make in our children will give us the biggest rewards and goes the extra mile for her playgroup. Manding looks forward to building a better tomorrow for our country, one child at a time.

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