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...
Oct 10, 2013

Breaking ground and building futures

Looking forward to learning in the new center
Looking forward to learning in the new center

Dear Friends of Thembanathi,

Since I last wrote, we've made great progress in the construction of our new building. The land is now leveled and fenced, the foundation poured, and the building half way up. Thanks to all of you, we're on track to finish in January 2014 as planned, in time for the start of the school year in South Africa.

It's so exciting to watch the building grow each day and to begin to envision all the activities that will take place within it.

We envision:

  • a model center of learning, love, and laughter for 60 young children
  • a vibrant community center where families and community members can come together to strengthen networks of support for children 
  • a beautiful garden providing healthy food for the center's feeding program and the surrounding community
  • a lovely library filled with books and materials for learners of all ages

While we've raised nearly all the funds for the construction itself, we still need to raise funds to equip the classrooms, offices, kitchen, and community room, to build a playground structure, and to provide additional education materials. We'd really appreciate your support in this effort, either through donating to support our project yourself or helping us to spread the word and raise funds from others. Global Giving has a great fundraiser platform that supporters can use to raise funds themselves. You can do this for a birthday, sporting event, wedding, or any other reason, and could dedicate your funds to a specific cause (e.g. building a playground, buying seedlings for the garden, etc). Check it out here - http://www.globalgiving.org/dy/v2/fundraiser-new/type Feel free to get in touch with me to discuss this option in more detail - lindsey@thembanathi.org

Thank you again for all your support thus far! We hope we can count on you to help us reach our goal and have the center ready to open in January.

Thanks again!

Warmly,
Lindsey
Bricklaying
Bricklaying

Links:

Jun 3, 2013

Moving ahead with our new building, and ten reasons to invest in early childhood!

Dear Friends of Thembanathi,

We are very excited to be taking our first steps towards making our new early childhood education and community center a reality. Last month we completed the registration of the plot of the land where we intend to build the center. It is a wonderful property with easy access to the main road and a beautiful view of the valley below.  A few weeks ago, the Board and director of Siyabonga Early Childhood Development Center and I met with our new contractor and architect at the project site to begin surveying the land. On Monday, workers will arrive to start clearing the land and building a fence around the perimeter. Our aim is for construction on the building itself to begin within the next month, once we have finalized the permits and plans. We are all excited to see the project move forward, and eager to see the center open in the new facility, which will be designed and equipped to meet the needs of 60 young children and provide additional support for other children and community members, by the start of the new school year in January 2014.
 
As we move forward with the final stages of our capital campaign, we thought it was a perfect time to remind everyone why early childhood education and care programs are so critical for children and families faced with the impacts of the HIV pandemic and of a long history of poverty and of unequal opportunities for employment, education, and social services.
Ten Reasons to Invest in Early Childhood Care and Education like those we support in rural South Africa (adapted from UNESCO).
 
1.  Early childhood care and education is a right, recognized by the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by 194 countries
2. Early childhood care and education is crucial for nurturing healthy, strong bodies and minds and ensuring optimal wiring and functioning of a child's brain.
3. Early childhood care and education can help create the defenses of peace in the minds of young children, and encourage values important for living together and sustainable development.
4. Early childhood care and education has a beneficial effect on school preparedness and later learning, and leads to higher school enrolment, particularly for girls.
5. Early childhood care and education yields higher investment returns than in any other levels of education.
6. Early childhood care and education provides childcare essential for supporting working parents and enabling older siblings’ schooling.
7. Early childhood care and education can lay the foundation for a transformative society, leading to the realization of gender equality.
8. Early childhood care and education levels the playing field by compensating for disadvantages in the family and reducing inequalities between rich and poor. It is thus a key component to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
9. Early childhood care and education is fundamental and a foundational step to achieving other Education for All goals and Millennium Development Goals.
10. Early childhood care and education equips young people with the skills to irmprove their own lives and to be agents of change to create a brighter future.
 
Check out Thembanathi's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thembanathi) to see even more great pics of the kids who joined in to help with this campaign, and LIKE our page to stay up to date with our progress as we move forward. We would really appreciate your sharing our page with friends and family to help spread the word.
Thank you again for all your support!  Without you, we couldn't have started our new program last year and have made such incredible progress towards achieving our goal of building an amazing new center for children in adversity in South Africa. We hope we can count on you to help us reach our next milestone.
Thanks again!
Warmly,
Lindsey

Links:

Feb 28, 2013

Our first students graduate and a new year begins

One of our first graduates
One of our first graduates

Dear friends,

I write to you to report on the start of our second year of operations at Siyabonga Thembanathi early childhood care and education center. After months in the US focused on fundraising for our new building project, I was really excited to head back to South Africa last month to visit the project, see the old and new faces at the center, catch up with staff and community members, and make plans for next steps. I'll be in South Africa for the next year or two and plan to visit the center frequently, oversee our new building project, and provide all of you with regular updates and stories as things unfold.

In December, as the South African school year came to a close, the Siyabonga staff and committee members organized a small celebration for the first group of 12 children to graduate from the new center and go on to primary school. They invited parents and community members to join them at the center to celebrate the children and the success of the center's first year. After a year at the center, the children are much better prepared to start school and we look forward to watching them continue to learn and grow. We also believe it is essential to continue to support and care for the children in primary school and beyond and, to this end, when our new facility is completed, we hope to expand our services to include after school programming for older children in the community.

On January 16th, the center opened again for the new school year, welcoming a new cohort of young children. It's amazing to witness the powerful differences between the children who have attended the center for a year already and those who are just arriving in the program. The children who are in their second year are confident, articulate, and social, and keen to help teach the new arrivals all they've learned.

In other news, the capital campaign for our new building has been a great success so far, and we are getting ready to start the design phase of the project here. With your support, we hope to reach our fundraising goal in the next six months so that we can complete the new center by the start of the next academic year in South Africa in January 2014. As we described in our July 2012 update, our goal is to build a larger permanent center that will accommodate 60 children in the early childhood care and education program, and will serve as a community center at which a range of other community services can be offered, including after school programming, community gardens, and income generation projects. Through the new center, we aim to help this community provide opportunities for vulnerable young children to learn, to develop socially, and to play. In addition to making a difference for children in this community, our model of partnering with local community groups to establish programs to provide critical services for children is one we believe could be replicated in other areas facing similar challenges. We are hoping to use this new center as a model program for how to develop such services in new communities. We hope you'll help us achieve this goal.

 

Thanks for your support!

Lindsey

Some of our new students
Some of our new students
Concentrating in the sandbox
Concentrating in the sandbox
Playing together
Playing together
Painting lessons
Painting lessons

Links:

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