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The weather in Betty’s Bay over the last couple of weeks hasn’t been great. Winter is very much here and the rain has been bucketing down. The North-Wester has also been howling about our ears, rattling the roof and jarring the nerve-endings. On the glorious winter days that have punctuated Nature’s onslaught, it seemed mad to leave Betty’s Bay. The beach in the soft winter light was just too alluring.

Bringing the hope of a better life to the very young of our community. Together they run the Pikkewyntjie PrePrimary School in Mooiuitsig, “WHERE CREATIVITY MAKES LEARNING FUN”.

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They are, from left to right: CHRISTEN MALGAS [teacher], LOUISE PLAATJIES [cook], ZAAN CILLIERS [principal, teacher and bus driver] and SALLY TOBIN [assistant teacher].

[Important correction to this article — made September 2015 — We incorrectly reported that PIKKEWYNTJIES had a monthly funding shortfall of R1000. This was a gross understatement.

The monthly deficit is a whopping R600 per child. There are 30 kids at the school so the total monthly shortfall is a daunting R18,000. All the more reason to dig into the old wallet and make a monthly contribution. The project is too important for the future of Betty’s Bay to allow it to fail through lack of funds.]

Zaan describes theirs as a dream team. Each staff member is hard-working and intensely loyal to the school. And while each has designated responsibilities, all four lend a hand wherever help is needed. Together they keep the place spic and span, they tend the vegetable garden and they help with food preparation. But their main focus is on the needs and education of the kids. Every day, says Zaan, her staff goes the extra mile for the children and it is this dedication that lifts this little school way above the ordinary.

The community of Mooiuitsig began its existence in the very early seventies as a typical apartheid-era township. It was originally built to house Coloured municipal workers. As in so many such townships, the residents have remained poor. They have had few opportunities to improve their lives and the lives of their children because jobs in Betty’s Bay are scarce and education is difficult to access. There are the inevitable social problems that are found in such townships – unemployment, dire poverty, hunger, single parent families and, more recently, the scourge of tik, the cheap and devastating drug that is causing havoc in poorer communities throughout South Africa. Young township dwellers are easy meat to unscrupulous dealers as these youngsters have so little hope of a fulfilling future. They are trapped in a cycle of poverty and have few opportunities to make something of their lives.

Because of failing health, Joan was forced to leave her beloved Betty’s Bay home in March 2008. Determined to give Betty's Bay a final farewell, she participated actively in the Woman's World Day of Prayer that year, the day before she was hospitalised, after which she moved to her daughter in Pinelands.

Joan and her husband Maurice built their Cliff Road cottage overlooking Jock's Bay in the 1970s. They had fallen in love with Betty's Bay after spending many holidays at Norwood, the family home next door. After Maurice died in 1986, Joan moved permanently to Betty's Bay and involved herself wholeheartedly in the community. She was a founder member of the Anglican Church, before the chapelry of St. Francis was established. Together with Avril Nunn, she organized communion services in their homes for any Anglicans in Betty’s Bay and this led to our now thriving Anglican parish.