Our Team

Meet Our Team

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ANNA-MARIE KAARS SIJPESTEIJN-GARSCHAGEN FOUNDER AND CEO OF LITTLE BRIDGE

It is difficult to describe Anna-Marie besides that she walks the talk, is incredibly direct and painfully honest and most certainly is not known for her diplomacy!

20 years of NGO Education in townships, 2 charities under her belt, fostering of many children, this philanthropist is difficult to work with/for as she expects 2000% commitment from the team. Saying this, she is open to constructive criticism, new ideas but should they contain any element of computer involvement, this dinosaur, closes her ears and eyes…….

Anna-Marie being a Dutch citizenthus a non South African, is totally a-political and therefore is not afraid to comment, challenge any force or human being that will in any way touch her team or her children.  For the last 15 years, both her and her husband have fostered children who needed guidance, or protection or motivation to achieve their dreams and goals. To this day, they are still not only fostering children but are sponsoring those who deserve a chance irrespective of colour or creed.

She is married for 38 years, has one daughter and too many animals to count. Both her and her husband, stay very much out of the limelight and plod on quietly hoping to successfully change a few lives.

DILLON THOMAS FOX

FINANCIAL DIRECTOR, PROJECT LEADER, ENGLISH TEACHER, AND FOSTER PARENT

Dillon, a young 23 yr old single man, has taken on the mammoth task of being Financial Director, Project Leader and beyond this, fostering 3 sadly neglected and abused 3-6 yr old children plus a 19 yr old young man. In between all of this, he is studying online “Project Management”:  a juggling of tasks not enviable considering South Africa’s appalling electricity situation, known as loadshedding.

Should Dillon possibly think that he has a minute to spare, he is totally incorrect:  his TEFL diploma is used daily to teach the 4-5 yr olds and Gr R English, making us the only bilingual ECD in this area.

Unfortunately, Dillon has had to stop his one big passion due to time constraints:  coaching the local high school rugby teams, which under his guidance and motivation, have had huge successes.

HELENE JOUBERT

OUR IN-HOUSE LAWYER AND CHAIRPERSON OF THE TRUSTEE COMMITTEE

Another new resident to Prince Albert, relocating from Cape Town where she still has a flourishing legal practice. 

Helene, Afrikaans speaking, holds weekly a pro bono legal clinic at Little Bridge, assisting the community with their, sometimes insurmountable, problems. Her incredible service is a rip-roaring success; her honesty and no-nonsense policy has gained her great admiration.

Her continual support and advise for Anna-Marie, fighting for the survival of children in great need, makes her an irreplaceable asset:  all of this in her free time.

Elize Fox: Grade RRR 3-4 year olds

Hello – I am Elize Fox, a mother of 2 grown independent boys and teaching the 3-4 yr olds.

I never dreamt that I would, and could, obtain an ECD diploma at “middle age” and be “surrogate” mom to so many little people!

My intense love for stimulating and assisting children became apparent when I was running my sister’s shop in the heart of the Noordeind township: every afternoon and during the school holidays, the local children would flock to the shop, not to purchase, but for me to read to them and listen to their dreams and hopes, assisting them with their homework in a calm and peaceful manner.

This experience made me realize that I am not too old to follow my dream: study for the Early Childhood Diploma, which |I successfully completed in 2020 whilst working at Little Bridge full time.

This is my “favorite age group, as I believe strongly in the saying: ‘Bend the tree while it’s still young’.
Every day is a challenge and a revelation bringing me incredible joy – I have found my “calling”!!
Let me be an inspriation to all other middle-age women” follow your dreams : where there’s a will, there is a way”

Sheroldene Heyns: Grade RR 4-5 years old

My name is Sheroldene Samentha Heyns, 26 years old, single and fostering my “orphaned” 11 year old brother.

I grew up as a scarred child, but the scars made me strong. I learnt never to give up, work hard and move forward. My scars from my youth, have not held me back but have given me the strength to refuse to become a victim: that is why I am a qualified ECD teacher, working with the boisterous 4-5 yr olds.

It’s not just about teaching the children academics, but to encourage respect for themselves whilst ensuring them a safe place in which to develop (and me)!

I am a caring, loving, honest and dedicated teacher .I donʾt pretend to be someone I am not and have learnt to ask for assistance when needed – we all need to grow and improve. My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better myself through the children.

I truly enjoy my profession and it gives me a fulfilment, which is difficult to put into words.

What a challenge I was given last year, to take over as principal. With great trepidation, honour, I dove into the deep end and am still swimming!

MELONY-ODETTE MAANS

PRINCIPAL & GRADE R TEACHER

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NICOLE FULLER ,

TRUSTEE, OUR IN-HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER AND FACEBOOK FUNDI

Nicole, a recently “newby” in Prince Albert is a qualified junior school teacher, married with 1 daughter, ardent gardener and animal lover.

Coming from the big city, Johannesburg, she has been confronted on her doorstep with the immense need for assistance in our poverty stricken Noordeind Township.  Finding the reality of the real South African “norm” hard to absorb with all her compassion, she has decided to stop teaching and assist us in other ways:  as a Trustee, in house photographer and the much-needed assistance with facebook.  Using her talents in this way, helps Little Bridge tremendously without having to outsource the expertise at great costs.

Maureen Deelman: Running the financial and administration departments

Being the in-situ financial authority, is not an easy task amongst the chattering, laughing, and crying of the children in such a small workplace.

She frequently rumbles on that the same column of figures have been attempted to add up at least 4 times but when she hears a child in distress, her automatic motherly reaction is to jump up and assist the little distressed child due to his/her having dropped his/her lunchbox, displaying the meagre contents on the floor.

Maureen has the enviable task of keeping the school afloat; making sure that all our legal paperwork is up to date; the distressing task of trying to convince the parents to please pay their monthly school stipend.

She keeps on assuring us, that she has the best of both worlds: working with figures and children though the 2 are often difficult at month end.
Dolla, (unfortunately short of an” r” = dollar) is Maureen’s pet name: she is the mother of a little son, in a stable and loving relationship, living in Noordend.
Dolla’s ambition is to study business management and integrate our school into today’s modern technology – a necessity long overdue but unaffordable for us……

Karen MANEWELL:

COOK “DELIGHT’, CHAIR OF SCHOOL GOVERNING BODY

Despite life’s many curve balls, this 31 year old, married mother of 2 young children, was determined to obtain her matric and succeeded in doing so!

Karen has been thrown into a position, which is the nucleus of not only every school, but every home:  the kitchen.  With no prior experience but a determination to succeed, learn to budget, become a valuable team player, she has within the 10 months of being at Little Bridge, been chosen as the Chair of the School Governing Body – not a mean achievement!

Karen is a hard worker, flexible, independent and open to challenges which she accomplishes with great intelligence and delight:  watch this space……..