About Pinocchio Crèche

Here are some of the milestones achieved by owner, Mrs Maggie Oewies Shongwe, over a period of about three decades:

Domestic Workers’ Association in South Africa (1974)

In 1974 the Domestic Workers’ Association in South Africa was founded by Maggie Shongwe. It was a labour organisation fighting for the rights of low-income earners, including domestic workers, casual labourers and gardeners. In 2001 the organisation was re-launched under the Domestic Workers’ Association Educational Trust.

Pinocchio Crèche (1984)

Maggie Shongwe has always been steadfast in her conviction that labour and politics should never mix, because - in her opinion - objectivity and accountability are often lost in the process. Therefore, in 1984, with the support of her late husband, Lewis Shongwe, she redirected her focus to launching Pinocchio Crèche, a project branch of the Domestic Workers’ Association.

“When Pinocchio Crèche first opened its doors in 1984, we anticipated only seven children would enroll, but we were met by 27 eager little faces at the gate that morning!” gushes Maggie Shongwe.

The then Social Welfare laws limited to seven the amount of children that could be accommodated in an unregistered facility. So, Maggie registered Pinocchio Crèche with the Department of Child Welfare to permit a bigger quota of children at this local daycare facility.

Pinocchio Crèche, which was built from humble beginnings, is today an inspiring community-based facility providing daycare for babies and pre-school children, as well as after-care facilities for junior school learners.

Pinocchio Crèche, which was built from humble beginnings, is today an inspiring community-based facility providing child care for toddlers and pre-school children between the ages of 2yrs to 6yrs.

The crèche, situated in the Cape Town CBD, provides a safe place of care and learning for the children of working parents. In 1998, after thirteen years, the Pinocchio Crèche premises were moved from Fritzonnenberg Road in Green Point, Cape Town to 50 Main Road, Green Point. This was done to accommodate the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Maggie’s daughter, Helen, an active member of staff at Pinocchio Crèche, was also one of the first children enrolled at the crèche. It’s essentially where she grew up.

Helen’s accolades

  • the Lion Derek Livesey Memorial Award, for her community work at the age of 14.
  • the 2007 Reebok Human Rights Award by the University Of Toronto Faculty Of Law
  • three provincial awards by the Department of Social Development.
  • three Certificates of Appreciation from the Western Cape Department of Social Development – in recognition of her invaluable contribution to the Atlantic Seaboard/Cape Town Early Childhood Development Principals Forum, assuming the roles of Chairperson and Secretary.
  • an award in participation with the ECD Program Development Registration Workshops.
“I grew up within this nurturing environment that greatly contributed to the fundamental growth of each child at the crèche; and today I admire the efforts of those parents who prioritise the welfare of their children, despite financial limitations,” says Helen.

Multi-racial Multi-cultural model C Schools in South Africa (1991)

After three years of campaigning, Maggie Shongwe was instrumental in convincing the Department of Education to open Model C schools to all races in 1991. This historical event was covered in international and local media. And her daughter, Helen was one of the first non-white pupils to attend Ellerton Primary School, a Model C school in Sea Point.

The DWA Educational Trust in 2010

Pinocchio Crèche launched an International Service Learning South Africa program with Howard University School of Social Work. This program has grown over the years, seeing additional organisations coming onboard to emulate the South African approach to societal needs ranging from drug rehabilitation, mental health, abuse, correctional services and community upliftment to early childhood development. The program has proven to be invaluable.

the pinocchio team

The Pinocchio team

Pinocchio Crèche is a project branch of the Domestic Workers’ Association Educational Trust - a non-profit organisation - run by founder, Mrs Maggie Oewies Shongwe, her daughter Helen Shongwe, and a team of committed caregivers. Having worked as a domestic worker and child minder herself, from the age of nine, Maggie Shongwe is acutely aware of the inequalities in formal labor market protection and disparities commonly experienced by non-white men and women who worked as housekeepers, cooks, caregivers, caretakers and gardeners. Resolute campaigning by Maggie Shongwe achieved the desired result of recognition for low-income earners as mainstream human resources. However, the arrival of other labour organisations in the early 1980s introduced a political focus on labour matters, a mix that conflicted with Maggie’s aspirations. This is when she redirected her focus toward the labourers’ childcare needs – resulting in Pinocchio Crèche, founded in 1984.

Well-rounded learning opportunities:

At Pinocchio Crèche our children are encouraged to develop and expand their appreciation and understanding of themselves, of others and of the world around them. Children learn through interaction with their environment, and we subscribe to the philosophy that children learn best through play.

We also offer our children organic vegetable gardening and violin lessons as extra programs. These two programs have proven to be instrumental in the development of our children.

School Readiness:

The school readiness program includes tools to equip parents to gradually help their children achieve self-sustained independence. Importantly, it encourages parents to review previously achieved tasks, to help maintain their child’s proficiency. Absenteeism in pre-school is strongly discouraged, as it is a deterrent to the development of these young minds. We strive to help each child develop to their fullest potential in all seven of the major developmental areas: mental, spiritual, cognitive, emotional, social, creative and physical.

Amongst the skills and values that our children learn through our specially designed activities are social skills, a good sense of self-esteem, problem solving skills, creativity and a spiritual foundation.


Learn more about our programs