Over the past year the Aids Resource Centre has continued to forge ahead with its involvement in the Samora Machel and Kosovo communities with the goal to seek to understand and find solutions recognising the significance of investing in early childhood development.
ASSISTING CHAMPIONS WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE WEBER WENTZEL PLATTEKLIP CHARITY CHALLENGE
During the latter half of 2010 it became apparent that the Masikhulisane ECD Centre ,whom we had supported for 4 years, had realised its goal of registration with Social Development providing them with a monthly grant to cover costs. This achievement enabled us to focus our efforts fully on the other unregistered creches/ECD Centres in Samora Machel and Kosovo and assist the creche ‘champions’ to not only grow a small ‘business’ for themselves, but provide the best start to the children attending, as well as provide community-based safety nets for the vulnerable children.
Working closely with the ECD assistants and local social services office we conducted a needs analysis and identified approximately 25 unregistered ECD centres in this area servicing 600+ children. Then, with the threat by Social Development to close down ECD centres should they not have applied to be registered by July 2011, we knew we needed to assist, motivate and resource where we could in an effort toward them becoming registered and self-reliant.
While these creche owners tended to focus their need requests on equipment including cot matresses, blankets, tables and chairs and potties, our visits and evaluations showed that a large majority of these centres were overcrowded, that the creche workers were often untrained and did not know how to ‘teach’ the children and that they lacked basic educational resources. We identified an NGO offering training in artwork using waste materials creatively and invited 13 creche workers to attend and at the end of the week-long training supplied them with a kit of resources. We disbuted tables and chairs, matresses, potties, scissors, crayons and other supplies to most of the creches in an effort to provide a basic start.
During this process we identified 4 ECD Centres servicing 200 children, and made a decision to provide a holistic solution to these. These included Forever Educare, Masikhule Educare and Ithemba Educare in Samora Machel and Vukuzeenzele Educare in Kosovo with Masikhule Educare and Ndamase Educare in Kosovo also receiving assistance. Partnership agreements were drawn up and collectively we: built 3 new galvanised-zinc classrooms with concrete laminated/carpeted floors, provided partitioning and fire-resistent fibre cement painted walls and toilet blocks; installed 4 jungle gyms; supplied kitchen equipment, safety equipment, first aid equipment and training, shelving and storage as well as a full supply of educational and art resources. (See below for list as well as creche pictures).
SURVEY OF NEED
While it is clearly evident that poverty is the problem underlying the majority of social ills besetting this community, we needed to clarify the need for a Women and Children’s Support Centre providing educare for the poorest of the poor and embarked on a community survey. 112 households with children of creche going ages who were not in creches, were interviewed. The results of the survey showed that approximately 60% of the respondent households were living on R250 or less per month. It also reavealed an over-arching genuine fear and concern by parents and creche owners about the state of their children in the community! The results not only confirmed the need for a free educare centre, but also exposed a number of other social issues needing urgent attention including, a high level of child sexual abuse, child neglect, child rape, teenage pregnancies and surmounting number of young mothers who had no idea how to raise a child being children themselves! The distinct absence of social workers in the area to attend to immediate problems was clearly evident with caregivers saying they needed to travel a distance to Mitchells Plein social services office for help. Children themselves had nowhere to turn to for support whether emergency or other.
HOLISTIC SUPPORT CENTRE
The survey confirmed that our model for a Children’s Support Centre was on track, emphasising the need to focus on both the wellbeing and future of the children and to develop the capacity of mothers to care for their vulnerable children.
Our 2 year diligent pursuit for the 2500sq/m plot of land bordering the Weltevreden Clinic in Samora Machel persisted and was brought to the attention of Premier Helen Zille and Patricia de Lille in January 2011, giving the importance of this project added impetus. It was decided that should this land acquisition come to fruition, it would be do so under the Ubomi umbrella (a Life Church project), providing long-term support to the community.
During the year we continued to identify and understand the needs of the community by networking with community leaders and locals and provided educational assistance to orphans who were identified in an effort to uplift their lives.
Donations to creches over the past year included:
• Classrooms and toilet blocks built
• Carpeting and laminated flooring
• Jungle gyms
• Zinc sheeting for leaking roofs
• Kitchen equipments including 2-plates and dishes
• Fire extinguishers
• First-aid kits and training to use the kits
• Creative art training with supply kits
• Plastic tables and chairs
• Storage boxes, books shelves and paint and toy cupboards
• Educational toys including shape sorter buckts, stacking cups, pegboards, puzzles
• Manipulative and construction equipment including blocks, thtreading etc
• Educational games including memory, shapes and colours
• Numeracy equipment including abbacus, number games, buckets of beads etc.
• Art supplies including scissors, glues, play dough and cutters, staplers and staples, hole punch, etc.
• Fantasy play equipment including cots, ironing boards and irons, wooden stoves and pots, car carpet and cars, farm animals etc.
• Co-ordination equipment including bean bags, hoops, skipping ropes etc.