It is really important to occasionally join the dots and see what we’ve achieved since we embarked on a collective mission, and our hope was that we’d achieve more with greater intension. We merged our projects, becoming more involved, assisting one another and at the same time we have taken some giant leaps.

June saw the departure of Mike Greeff as our Project Co-ordinator on the ground but we received him onto our Board and in July we welcomed Thobani Ndlovu, our new Head of School and Project Co-ordinator. Many changes but significant growth and support for which we are so grateful.

So, what might we have achieved in the past 10 months? We believe we are impacting the lives of more than 80 women and about 1000 children – 95% Black South Africans from previously disadvantaged communities.

Together – Khanyisela, Royal Drakensberg Primary and BabyBoost – this is Project amaZizi Reads. amaZizi Reads is a project where initiatives combine to provide educational experiences that ultimately promote literacy development. And so, we share some of our latest happenings…

50 ECD Practitioners

Upgraded Facilities

Security upgrades at Celokuhle, Sibusisiwe and Emseni have been completed. Avalon of Awesome Kitchens continues to assist with the more complicated projects and Mr Ronnie the smaller tasks. At each visit, Thobani updates the Maintenance & Wish Lists. Many smaller jobs are ongoing and we hope to complete tasks during the December holiday period.

Upgraded Facilities

Further facility upgrades have gone ahead at Emseni, Ekukhanyeni and Ntokozweni. We thank SORO for the new ceiling in the babies class at Emseni.

We are working in conjunction with the Development Plans which fall within the DGMT project. Currently we are working with these three schools and we are focusing on children 0-3 years. Assessments are currently being carried out by 2 RDPS teachers independently, a baseline level is agreed, observations and possible targets for improvement are developed and agreed in discussion with teachers in the school.

Upgraded Facilities

With the funding received from The Joan Bertha Salamette Norman Will Trust we have been fixing floors, upgrading lighting, providing shelving and helping to get better resources where needed. New display boards have been added and we will assist in creating posters which are in isiZulu to encourage mother-tongue instruction. Additional books have been bought to encourage daily story time and toy cupboards purchased to help stimulate play and make language development more meaningful.

Upgraded Facilities

These three schools have also received Sports Boxes with a selection of outdoor play equipment which include balancing beams, balls, bean bags, cones and other items to make play more engaging and fun. Our thanks extends to DENSO SA for their support of our work.

Kitchen areas are also being upgraded and schools, where possible, will be painted.

Upgraded Facilities

Porridge

Our monthly distribution into the schools continues. We were fortunate to have been assisted with 6 months of porridge from a South African organisation, Do More. This short-term initiative following Covid-19 has come to an end and we are now continuing to purchase porridge from Food for Africa. We are grateful to the Retford Rotary Club who continue to support the children. The “Bread Fund” has been an ongoing base of support from afar which has been a firm constant over many years.

Porridge

Knitwear

Knitwear

We are incredibly grateful to George & Gerti Rotter from Austria for the donation of knitwear to our community. Two enormous crates arrived in June! Thanks to Daph & Dave for assisting the team and distributing all the hundreds of donations! Such a wonderful gift in our winter season.


Jumble and Donations

Jumble, educational resources and books continue to be collected at The Cavern, Montusi Mountain Lodge & All Out Adventures. JumbleSales take place at Royal Drakensberg initially and then through to the community. All clothing is sold at very reasonable rates and funds generated go back into the projects. It’s a WIN-WIN!

All other resources, school uniforms, shoes and books are donated to schools in our community.


Teacher Mentoring and Training

Whilst facilities are vital, it is the learning that happens in the schools daily that really results in transformed futures. We are grateful for the sponsorship of training by Value Logistics which ensure formal qualifications for practitioners. Currently 2 KP practitioners are completing Level 4 at Midlands Community College.

We continue working with the teachers through our mentorship programmes. The inclusion of Development Plans sees us working with greater intention.

Three teachers have been identified to mentor in the greater amaZizi Village:

Sibononelo Dlamini from Royal Drakensberg
Mantombi Khoza from Sibusisiwe
Fikile Nene from Hlelokuhle

Schools they are responsible for are displayed in this table:

SiboneleloManthombiFikile
EkukhanyeniEmseniSamkelokuhle
SibusisiweHlelokuhleNtokozweni
VusenaniGugulethuLittle Flowers
ZamokuhleSivuleleniCelokuhle
BonokuhleSiqalakahleMpumelelo
VukaniVumelani
Teacher Training

Workshops have been hosted at Royal Drakensberg in 2022. We share ideas, open discussions and look at creative ways to teach skills using natural resources where possible. Two workshops have focused on planning. This is a difficult concept for many ladies but through group presentation and collaborating in a safe space there certainly is continued learning. Thobani has also been doing follow-ups and this led to another workshop being held this past month. This followed a request to assist with planning for themes as required by the Department of Education and we thank our teachers for coming together and creating a fabulous morning where the ideas flowed!


BabyBoost

BabyBoost is a group programme where carers and their babies (approximately 4-18 months) meet with trained members of their community to learn about the importance of 6 key interactions:

  • talk to your baby
  • cuddle your baby
  • read to your baby
  • respond to your baby
  • sing to your baby
  • play with your baby

BabyBoost was developed by Dr Marysia Nash and comprises 5 information workshops, 10 playgroups and a few home visits. Here we are focusing on the first 1000 days and we’re helping mothers and carers to stimulate their babies so that the important brain pathways are developed and this makes learning later easier.

We are grateful to OxEd and Assessment Ltd for sponsoring our new BabyBoost manual which will help our local facilitators deliver the course content appropriately and competently.

This year we scheduled 3 new BabyBoost sessions. Two, Sibusisiwe and Siqalakahle, have been completed and a third at Little Flowers is underway. Our thanks to N3TC for the support and assisting with stipends for local facilitators.

It is through our own learning in BabyBoost that we will also be establishing Baby Boxes and Baby Cupboards in the ECD centres that have young ones. These will be equipped with appropriate toys and books and will also share messages about the importance of play, reading, talking and cuddling your baby through a series of posters developed by Dr Marysia Nash and her artist friend, Carol Baines.


Book Sharing and Community Reading

Our partnership with Book Dash enables us to distribute books into the homes of the children. Book Dash’s aim is for every child to own 100 books before they turn 5. These books help parents and children read aloud for 15 minutes per day. This valuable story time not only promotes literacy but it creates “magic” where family’s bond. See more www.bookdash.org We mention the Rivonia Rotary Anns and thank them for their generous donation which has allowed us to purchase more stories.

We have taken book sharing a step further and introduced Community Reading. On Wednesday afternoons the teachers from Royal Drakensberg head into the community to read to the children. These afternoons have been a treat for the children and we are working hard to establish a love of books and a love of reading. Books are chosen in isiZulu and English and many afternoons are finished off with some singing and dancing. These groups have started small but, on each occasion, have grown in numbers and as we finish up and move into a new area the resident ECD teachers have continued to read! It is so exciting! Our September group had more than 250 eager children! The enthusiasm is evident and we are exploring ways of extending this once the RDPS teachers move to a new community.


A Final Word From Teacher Thoba

The impact that the Khanyisela Project has on the community is one that reverberates throughout the entire valley. I can hardly return from porridge delivery without requests from schools and other community members for some sort of support. This is because the reputation of the project is one that precedes me. I consider myself to be very fortunate as am always welcomed by cheerful greetings from the children in the creches and the hope in the faces of their carers. This makes me feel like I am in a special position, as a mediator, between the giver and the beneficiaries. It is a humbling experience to see such gratitude, I always wish that I could package it and bring it back to those who make our work possible.

Book Sharing

Going out to the community ECD Centres has been an experience that cannot be compared to any other. Our position as supporters to these centres is a very sensitive one as we gently guide the beneficiaries whilst also learning from them on how what could be considered “help” differs from creche to creche. The negotiation of what we may consider as priority to what the centre leaders consider as a priority is an interesting balance.

It has been my goal to create relationships with the ladies that teach and lead the centres so that I am able to determine the appropriate ways of supporting them and therefore maximising the impact of our school. Due to the attempts at having a balanced relationship, it becomes challenging at determining the educational development of the creches. I noticed this on a short survey that I did on my previous porridge delivery, where I was checking if and how the plans, we had developed on our previous workshop were being implemented. The feedback received from the ladies informed the area of focus in our last Khanyisela workshop.

Though seeming slow for now, we are making progress in this area as we work with the creches to find the best possible solutions to their challenges. This means that we need to be more intentional with the data that we collect yet careful in having non-invasive methods when wanting to track progress of the different interventions implemented.

With our best wishes,

Teacher Thoba, Megan & Loretta

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