A Brief History
It was on 5th February 1939 that the Tongaat branch of the Natal Indian Congress established a separate committee to cater for the welfare needs of its community, especially the children. It did not take long for the officials to realize that this committee needed to operate autonomously. Thus was born the Tongaat Child Welfare Society and Community Centre on 2nd February 1941.
As the juristic boundary of Verulam [Inanda] only extended to the Tongaat River, the population in the north, Maidstone Barracks, Fairbreeze, Sandfields and Block Barracks were being serviced by the Magistrate of Stanger [ Lower Tugela] for this reason, a second Society viz Fairbreeze Child Welfare Society , with people like the late Mr Sheik Mohideen, O M Khan and S S Pillay , at the helm ,served the needs of the community in the north.
Fortunately, after operating side by side for a few years, both societies merged. Some of the earliest officials were the late Mrs F Choonoo [ first Chairperson]and Mr E V Naidoo[ first Secretary]. Some of the other persons were Messrs K P Desai, G Hurbans, S Bala and Mrs Kassie.
The earliest premises occupied, according to records available, was a single room at the old Gandhi and Co building. With the election of the late Dr E R Naidoo as Chairman in 1947, the Society moved its offices to the Tongaat Health Centre. This move was no doubt influenced by Mr B P Pillay, the Secretary, who was then employed as an Assistant at this Clinic. Gradually, the services of the Society were conducted from the rooms of the late Dr E R Naidoo.
Around this time was another organization, namely the Tongaat and Districts Community Centre. They operated from Club Harmony, a small Hall situated between Tongaat NLC offices and the Railway Station. The aims and objects of the Community Centre were very similar to that of the Welfare Society. After negotiations these two organizations merged with the amended name of Tongaat Indian Child Welfare society and Community Centre.
With rapid growth, the Society was in need of proper offices. The late Mr S A Govender came to its rescue by providing free accommodation, calling it his contribution to the community. Therefore, in 1968, with a view to streamlining its operation from a single office, the Society moved to Luxmi Court. For the first time proper offices and reception areas were available for use by staff and clients.
Mr Laloo was employed as an administrative clerk and Mr Robert Pillay acted as a Social Worker.
In October 1969, Mrs Meera Arbee, who remains a loyal staff member, was employed as a clerk after Mr Laloo’s resignation.
The Society was shortly thereafter, on the resignation of Mr Robert Pillay, the proud employers of its first qualified Social Worker, namely Mrs D Nadaraju. By now, the membership had grown to such an extent that in order to accommodate everyone, meetings were held at the offices of the Tongaat Town Board. It may be worth mentioning that the Honorary Auditor of the Society’s books was Mr Danhauser, the Town’s Treasurer. Around this time, the Society operated from an office in Arbee’s building. In its fight against malnutrition of children, the Society established several milk clubs. People behind this scheme included the late Mrs V V Naidoo and Mrs E R Naidoo. This school was the forerunner to the introduction of crèches and pre-schools.
For the next part of its formative years, the organization was led by the late Dr E R Naidoo[ 1947-1971] who is regarded as the doyen of Tongaat Child Welfare Society. We shall remain grateful for his astute leadership and high standards he set for others to follow.
The Tongaat Jaycees, as its project, built and handed over the Shrimati Anandben Desai building in Flamingo Heights to this Society on 31st October 1981.
With the development in the Tongaat South Area in the mid seventies, services were decentralized using the basement at Gordon Mitchell Hall in Buffelsdale.
In the early 90’sthe opportunity arose for us to occupy the old Station Building in High Street. Our stay here did not last long. Our move, once again, was prompted by the poor state of the building and high volume of traffic noise. We than moved to Foresum Centre in the heart of the CBD. In 1997, negotiations were started with Tongaat Hulett Group for its Tesco Club property. Assisting the Society were our local Councillors, in particular Cllr Logie Naidoo and the Mayor, Cllr Sanele Nxumalo. Pleading our case were Mr J B Magaza and MR Noah Naidoo of the Tongaat Hulett Group.