We're training 'Mamas' and improving levels of care ...
...creating sustainability by registering nurseries ...
... and resourcing, equipping and extending settings.
  • We're training 'Mamas' and improving levels of care ...
  • ...creating sustainability by registering nurseries ...
  • ... and resourcing, equipping and extending settings.

What We're Doing Right Now

UNICEF estimate that 55% of South African children live in extreme poverty. 1 in 3 doesn’t always have enough to eat and 1 in 5 doesn’t go to school. South Africa has been through huge urbanization for years, causing many of the problems faced by most of her people.  Most South Africans are living in ‘townships’ – in shacks, often made of packing cases and corrugated iron. Some have a supply of water and electricity, but many lack these amenities and have open sewers and pit toilets - appalling living conditions with obvious health hazards, particularly for children.

An added problem is that the majority of people there are unemployed, and across South Africa it was estimated by UNICEF in 2007 that 55% of children lived in households (of typically 5 or 6 family members) living on under R800 per month, (£47 - equivalent to  £1.54 per day, or around 25p per person). The consequences of this poverty and other factors are that South Africa has huge challenges:
-    the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS anywhere in the world (with up to a quarter of its citizens known to be infected, many of them failing to get the treatment they need, and several hundred thousand dying each year)
-    one of the highest incidence of tuberculosis anywhere in the world, with many in the medical profession believing that this will become a bigger killer than HIV/AIDS
-    huge alcoholism and drugs problems
-    and widespread physical and sexual abuse of children (The Children’s Institute of Cape Town estimated in 2005 that between 400,000 and 500,000 children were sexually abused each year, and it’s likely that little has changed since).

And when families experience poverty, children become the first victims.

Auntie is focusing efforts on helping to create greater access to high quality ‘pre-schools’ in township communities. This is vital for a number of reasons….

-    nearly 80% of children are born into a single parent family, with a great many new Mum’s being teenagers. Incredibly, over 30% of girls have had a child by the age of 19. Most are still at school, and most have no other income provider in the household
-    this leaves a new Mum with the choice between staying at home to care for her child (and her family having no income and starving to death), or going out to work and leaving her child at home on their own or wandering the streets to be targeted by gangs or predators
-    children start school (those that go to school) at 7 years old. That’s the first 7 years of a child’s life that they can be wandering the streets in a township with no sanitation, at the mercy of gangs and exposed to abuse, with no education and no family at home all day
-    only 17% of infants and pre-school children currently have access to ‘pre-schools’; most are of very poor quality with very little equipment; and most are set up in the homes of ‘Mamas’ that care for these children. Amazingly, these ‘Mamas’ have turned their homes – nothing more than tin shacks – over to makeshift ‘pre-schools’ in order to meet the local need and care for these children, providing a safe haven, away from the dangers posed by their environments.

Our current activities therefore consist of 3 main projects…….

1.  Training and support for the ‘Mamas’ and practitioners running nearly 300 ‘pre-schools’.

In 2013 our partner, Ikamva, developed 2 training and support programmes. One for the ‘Mamas’ who run ‘pre-schools’ - that provides all of the knowledge, tools and leadership skills required to manage and run their ‘pre-schools’ effectively and to a high standard; and one for the practitioners that help the ‘Mamas’ to deliver quality care and education for the children.

Both programmes involve classroom based training alongside up to 2 years ‘field based’ support back in their ‘pre-schools’. These programmes have been carefully developed and piloted, with the on-going support back in their pre-schools a vital ingredient ensuring that the learning and development is both embedded and rolled out to other practitioners in those ‘pre-schools’. Much of the classroom work takes place in a ‘Model Pre-School’ run by an outstanding teaching professional, where practices can be modelled and leaned. Auntie helped to fund the building of this ‘Model Pre-School’ in 2012, and the training programmes run in 2012, 2013 and 2014/15 in which 50 Mamas and 135 practitioners were trained, and we are now raising funds to train more ‘Mamas’ and practitioners at a cost of £1500 each.

Frankly, we cannot imagine finding projects that could have a greater positive impact on the lives of many thousands of vulnerable children than training more professionals in this way, and we’d be grateful for any contribution towards this.

Raising this £54,000 to train and support a further 36 Mamas / practitioners during 2015/2016 is our biggest priority right now.

2.  Supporting ‘pre-schools’ through a Government registration process – creating guaranteed income, self-sufficiency and sustainability.

In 2012, the South African Government begun to enforce a requirement that all ‘pre-schools’ meet minimum standards. Whilst it is unrealistic to expect that the majority of ‘pre-schools’ in impoverished townships could meet these standards on their own (remembering that most are improvised from tiny tin shack homes), they have the potential to do so with a little financial help.

It is particularly important that they do so for 2 reasons:
1.    if they don’t, they are likely to be forced to close
2.    if registration standards can be met, and registration can be secured, then Government will make a small on-going financial contribution of 17 Rand (around £1) per day for each child being cared for. At present, Mums can only afford an average of 8 Rand (48p) per day, so this potential Government contribution will almost certainly make the difference between the ‘pre-school’ being loss making (and forever dependent on charitable support), and being financially viable and therefore self-reliant and sustainable.

The needs of each of the c.300 ‘pre-schools’ needing support in this way vary greatly. A few really only need help with the bureaucratic process involved. Most need financial support to renovate and equip. Auntie are treating this project as an important project and we would like to be able to invest to the extent that all 300 ‘pre-schools’ can be registered and made sustainable over the coming few years. By mid-2015, 35 have been registered, and a further 100 are currently being assisted.

3.  Renovating, equipping and extending ‘pre-schools’ - and building completely new ones.  

With just 17% of children able to access ‘pre-schools’, there is huge unmet demand. The Mamas running them are always having to make the agonising decision to turn children away, knowing the dangers and abuse that they face - but with no space available in what are often tiny converted shacks. The only solution to this awful dilemma is to take more and more children into that tiny space.

A number of opportunities exist to either extend established ‘pre-schools’ in order to accommodate more children, or build new ones. In 2013 for example, Ikamva built and equipped a new ‘pre-school’ for over 100 children for Mavis Ngongolo, a wonderful ‘Mama’ who had been caring for 65 children in her home – 2 rooms measuring around 12’ x 12’ each. Amazingly, this was accomplished for £15,000.

We have the chance to assist with more opportunities like this. Sometimes we need relatively small sums of money (under £1000) to renovate or re-roof a ‘pre-school’ in order to keep it open or safe. Often we have opportunities to assist with the extension of ‘pre-schools’ to accommodate more children and often this can be done for relatively small sums too (typically £1,500 - £3,000). And we have opportunities to build new ‘pre-schools’ on land already secured, that can typically be built and equipped for between £20,000 and £30,000 accommodating between 100 and 150 children.

Committing funding to these projects is always a juggling act for Ikamva. They have many priorities and funds are scarce. But if you can help with this ongoing project, in any way, please let us know. We can combine donations to complete a renovation or extension project, or work with you exclusively to build a new nursery. Just let us know how you’d like to help.

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