Creating a Culture of Caring
Why are we getting involved?
Whenever I travel to local Venda villages to collect baobab fruit, I notice how the women are constantly busy with their every-day tasks: growing crops, trading in small goods, wild-harvesting foods and collecting firewood and water. Often, their work takes them away from the village and it’s not always practical or safe to keep their very young children with them. It therefore becomes the task of one or two other village women to care for young children and so informal pre-schools are set up.
These very small children require good food, a warm, clean and cosy place to nap, toys and safe play areas – but the reality is many of these pre-schools are little more than hard concrete floors surrounded by dusty unfenced grounds and at best, an old car tyre to play with.
In addition, the women who are the carers do not have a background in early childhood development and therefore the young children are not properly prepared by the time they get to school-going age.
This is what we’re doing
I began the Baobab Pre-school Programme as an initiative which identifies under-resourced pre-schools in the areas where baobab harvesters live. The support that is given to the pre-schools is determined by the individual needs of each and includes the following:
- Training the carers (teachers) in early childhood development.
- Providing educational toys, jungle gyms and swings.
- Helping improve the infrastructure of the premises.
- Supplying nutritional non-perishable food.
EcoProducts Foundation has now partnered with the Sumbandila Trust who has been involved in educating rural children in under-privileged schools since 2007. They have extended their educational programmes to include early childhood development (ECD). Sumbandila will provide a mentor to the carers (teachers) of each of the pre-schools.
“It’s about creating a culture of caring for the future, for our communities and for our earth”
Early Childhood Development has been identified as a means of breaking the poverty cycle. Children who do not receive a strong foundation in their early development are found to be stunted academically. By focusing on the correct development areas and adequate nutrition before school-going age, children are given a boost that will help them for the rest of their lives.
How it works
Our aim is to help four pre-schools per year with these core actions:
Pre-school centres are visited and a needs-assessment is done.
Teachers are enrolled into a one-year ECD mentorship program with Sumbandila Trust.
Jungle gyms and swings are built and educational toys are sourced.
Providing on-going support for maintenance and infrastructural improvements during the course of the year.
2014: the Bonga Foundation helped the Zigodini Pre-school with educational toys, swings, a jungle gym, food and infrastructural improvements.
2015: a further 3 schools were identified to receive this support. Together with the Zigodini Pre-school they have enrolled in the ECD mentorship program.
How can you get involved?
The EcoProducts Foundation would be grateful for any donations, big or small to this programme to help provide equipment and pay for maintenance and building improvements. We need approximately R100 000 per year to cover the basic requirements of 4 pre-schools.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to find out more or contribute by becoming a sponsor.
Dr Sarah Venter