Even Ground

Even Ground strives to help families and communities break the cycles of poverty and inequality by providing support to community-based programs that offer high-quality education and care to young people in Africa. We envision communities where all young people, regardless of their economic background, are given high-quality education and care to ensure a fair start in life and set them on the path towards a brighter future. UNAIDS estimates that to date, a staggering 14 million children have been orphaned by AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV in the world and by 2025, it is estimated that 40% of South African adults will have died of t...
May 27, 2015

Early Childhood Education - Opportunity for All

Children at Siyabonga
Children at Siyabonga

Dear Friends of Thembanathi,

This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the Head Start program in the United States, an early childhood education program created to fight the harmful effects of poverty on children’s lives. Head Start, President Obama reminded us in his public address, was “founded on the idea that every child -- no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they grow up -- deserves the chance to reach their full potential.” 

On this day, President Obama took the opportunity to remind us all of the importance of early childhood education. “Supporting our children in their earliest years with high-quality care and education is one of the best investments we can make as a Nation,” he proclaimed. “During a critical period in a child's life,” President Obama went on, “Head Start sets our Nation's young people on the path to success. We know that investments in early childhood education boost graduation rates, increase earnings, and reduce violent crime. And 3- and 4-year-olds who attend high-quality preschool are less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to need special education, and more likely to graduate from high school. This head start in life leaves a lasting impact on our students and fuels their curiosity, helping them to grow up with a passion for learning, a fair shot at good-paying jobs, and a more secure future.”

The critical need for and positive impacts of early childhood education and care are universal. A growing body of evidence from countries around the world shows that appropriate investment in early childhood development can have a positive effect on national health, education, and socio-economic outcomes, especially in less developed countries. A strong foundation in early childhood lays the groundwork for responsible citizenship, economic prosperity, healthy communities, and successful parenting of the next generation. This is why organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, and The World Bank have emphasized its importance.

Children who acquire learning deficits in their early years fail to catch up during formal schooling. Rather, these deficits continue to grow over time until they become insurmountable. Reports on educational achievement in South Africa demonstrate that far too many of school-going children are performing below minimal standards, often failing to acquire functional numeracy and literacy skills. Research shows that children who participate in quality early childhood development programs, by contrast, are more ready to learn when they begin school and are less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school.

While the need for quality early childhood education is clearly recognized in South Africa, as it is in the United States, many areas of the country--especially the more rural, impoverished regions--struggle to provide these programs. That is why we at Thembanathi have dedicated ourselves to supporting and helping to build early childhood programs in northern KwaZulu Natal. As many of you know, we began working with Holy Cross in 2003, helping them to expand their early childhood program from an informal care center in a one-car garage to a center of excellence able to accommodate 120 children in need. In addition, we have supported their expansion into the more remote areas surrounding the main center through the construction of four satellite centers. Over the last few years, we’ve also helped open a new center of learning in another area, and hope to continue to grow our support programs to offer assistance to even more children in need.

While we know you all understand and support early childhood education, we want to take this moment--the anniversary of a program that has transformed the lives of many young people in America--to reflect on the importance of early childhood education and care for all children in need and to recommit ourselves to doing our part to ensure that children faced with historical and economic disadvantages are given the head start they need to allow them the chance for a bright future. We hope that you will do the same.

 Thank you.

Children at Siyabonga Enjoying Breakfast
Children at Siyabonga Enjoying Breakfast
Lindsey, Thembanathi Director, Visits Siyabonga
Lindsey, Thembanathi Director, Visits Siyabonga
Thanks for Your Commitment to Siyabonga
Thanks for Your Commitment to Siyabonga
May 11, 2015

Say hello to our little friends...

Our new friends
Our new friends
Have you heard about the most recent additions to our Community Centre? Thanks to your support, we've now got pigs! Funds from this project helped us to purchase 6 pigs that recently gave birth to 7 piglets with more on the way. The piglets will live in our newly built piggery at our Community Centre and, once they've matured, be sold to local farmers as part of an income-generating project for our educational and agricultural programmes. 
 
Every day, children in our ECD Programme walk down to our pig pen to count the piglets, talk about what colors they see, and what noises pigs make. Our Grades R-7 learners interact with the pigs and start to develop an appreciation for the environment, while our high school learners focus on the tactical and strategic side of starting a piggery business.
 
These learning opportunities would not have been possible without you! Thank you for your continued support with this project. 
Piglets in our brand new piggery
Piglets in our brand new piggery
Counting the pigs!
Counting the pigs!
Apr 21, 2015

Moving into the New Year

EG AT WORK
EG AT WORK

Dear Friends of Even Ground,
 
Thank you for your support as part of our end of year campaign. As a result of your generosity, Even Ground has been able to assist our projects in taking new exciting steps. For example, Mukono (formerly Uganda) will start a new cohort ofsix scholarship for high school students. In addition, we are able to expand the community gardens project at Thanda which will positively impact another 250 community membersDukathole recently sent off 10 scholars to top boarding schools in Johannesburg. Thembanathi is bringing in a new class of 60 young learners to its Siyabonga early development center. 

2015 will be an exciting year for Even Ground. We are poised to grow by increasing the scope and impact of our current projects and adding new projects to our family. We are looking forward to empowering more young dynamic social entrepreneurs as they tackle persistent development challenges in Africa in the fields of education, health, nutrition, and economic empowerment.

To keep you abreast of our latest activities, every newsletter we will feature one of our projects. This month we will look at Thanda After School, located in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. 

THANDA AFTER SCHOOL

Thanda is a non-profit organization that provides support, education, and agriculture training for children in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa through after-school programs. We believe knowledge really is the best weapon to change the world, and that our future begins with our youth. By partnering directly with the local community, we are building a better future together.

Located in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Thanda partners with rural communities to create long term solutions for sustainable development. Through Thanda, we believe that by using small, powerful actions we can achieve big changes. 2014 was a great year for Thanda and we continue to find new innovative ways to partner with rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal, helping people learn how to create long-term change.

Everyday Thanda reaches over 450 children in grades K-11. Through its programs, Thanda achieves the following:

  • 45% increase in literacy rates
  • Teenage pregnancy is 5X lower
  • 95% of youth started own sustainable gardens
  • serve almost 90,000 meals during the year to malnourished children

Even Ground has been a strategic partner to Thanda since its inception and continues to supports its efforts to bring development interventions to those most in need.

For more information about Thanda, visit thanda.org

We look forward to your continued to support as we move forward with strength into this year. Please consider supporting these communities and our efforts further by donating to our cause. 

THANDA GARDENS
THANDA GARDENS

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