Nov 16, 2020

2019/20 Topsy Foundation Year In Review

Protective Behaviours Refresher Training
Protective Behaviours Refresher Training

2019/20 financial year was one full of change and progress for The Topsy Foundation, with the appointment of a new director and implementation of a new programme to provide additional support to parents and caregivers in the communities of Dipaleseng. We worked tirelessly to promote our mission of providing disadvantaged rural communities with the support and tools needed to raise happy, healthy, and capable children. We welcomed new staff, increased the impact of our work, and have been building partnerships that will have a lasting and positive impact on our communities.

The essential package of services in the critical early years of a child's development consists of the following pillars:

  • Early learning and stimulation
  • Nutritional support and education
  • Parental and caregiver guidance and skills
  • Health screening and growth monitoring
  • Psycho-social support

Despite the ongoing challenging economic climate, we are incredibly proud to report our achievements during the period, which include:

  • Our Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme continued with its support to 27 centres. Through our holistic activities which include practitioner training, access to our Play and Learn Centre and health screening, we increased support to 1850 – 2000 children per month.
  • Our community workers continued their home support and visited 80 households per month.
  • Our Food Security project continued to steadily reach more beneficiaries reaching a combined total of over 5,900 beneficiaries per month through our individual and community food gardens.
  • The Women's Health Programme continues to be a significant advantage to the communities from Dipaleseng. A constant average of 45 females receives pap smears monthly and all women in need of colposcopic biopsy treated in our centre.
  • All Early Childhood Development programme staff received refresher training from Protective Behaviours south Africa (PBSA). PBSA is a practical, empowering approach to personal safety. It is a process that encourages and develops self-confidence alongside skills that help us avoid being victimised. This is achieved by recognising our personal concept of safety, trusting our intuitive feelings (early warning signs) that tell us when we are feeling unsafe and developing strategies for self-protection. 

An impactful new programme "Caregiver/Parent Capacity Building" was implemented to extend our reach to more families and provide care and stimulation to children who are not attending ECD centres. Unicef designed the programme, and ELRU facilitated the training of Topsy staff. The training took place in September 2019. The training gave our team the skills and knowledge to build on the existing experience and abilities of caregivers whilst covering the following topics:

  • Health and nutrition
  • Play and creativity
  • Physical development
  • Social development, emotional development and confidence building
  • Intellectual and language stimulation
  • Child safety and protection
  • Healthy family relationships
  • Positive discipline
  • Grief and bereavement
  • Me, the parent/caregiver

Topsy employs 29 staff members who are well qualified and experienced to work across the various life-changing programmes we deliver. Most of the staff are recruited from the surrounding communities; therefore, they know the challenges faced by beneficiaries and can respond to community needs sensitively. 

We've been continuously growing and learning through our involvement with growing networks. Our success is the community's success. With the ongoing support of donors, partners, staff, board, and volunteers, we are ready for the challenges and achievements ahead in 2021.

May 22, 2020

The Topsy Foundation's Response to COVID-19

Community members waiting to receive food parcels
Community members waiting to receive food parcels

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on all of us, more so on the vulnerable. As an NPO organisation based in the Sub-district of Dipaleseng in Mpumalanga, one of the poorest communities in the country, we have the responsibility to respond in assisting our community members, to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.

Due to the high unemployment rate (37.2%), many families in Dipaleseng are living in food poverty. An example of this is Elios Sibeko, a man who lives in Grootvlei extension 1 with his family of 8. He is unemployed and has been depending on food parcels from the government to feed his family, however, these are not enough. This is an all too common reality in Dipaleseng.

Through partnerships with organisations such as the HCI Foundation, Rise Against Hunger and Food Forward supplying food parcels, and the fresh vegetables from the gardens in the community from the Topsy food security programme, approximately 1800 individuals from 450 homes in Siyathemba, Grootvlei and Nthoroane have been provided with food during this time of uncertainty.

Providing these food parcels has not only meant the community has food security but they have also been kept safer as they are less likely to leave their homes every day, putting themselves in harm's way in search of food to put on the table. This reduces their chances of contracting the coronavirus, which is crucial given that Dipaleseng has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates (31%) in the country, therefore more people in the community are high risk.

Donations from The Mergon Foundation and CAF Southern Africa, funded by the Oppenheimer Generations Foundation have helped us fund operation costs during the global pandemic. This has helped as many funding opportunities have been put on hold and our corporate donors have been experiencing financial pressure, leaving us uncertain about what the future holds.

Our staff has been dedicated and shown courage while working during this hard time. We have also seen encouraging support from individuals and will build on this to use platforms such as GlobalGiving, ForGood just to mention a few to fundraise so we can continue supporting the most vulnerable.

Please donate to help provide food relief to some of the world’s most vulnerable people during this challenging time.

Yours Sincerely,

Jan 21, 2020

Topsy - Leaping into 2020


Last year was a year of change and growth for The Topsy Foundation. The biggest change came with the appointment of Sarah du Toit as Executive Director in August. With this change came a new style of leadership, bringing with it new energy and enthusiasm.

The change led to greater focus on improving our Holistic Early Childhood Development (HECD) Programme, with more work on the ground in the communities, as opposed to strictly centre-based Early Childhood Development. This means we will have a greater understanding of community needs, by acting on what we hear and incorporating feedback into every project. With the learning gleaned from our actions, we will then continually repeat the process, strengthening our impact with every cycle.

In 2019, we visited just over 700 adults and children in their homes each month. This number is set to increase, leading to better outcomes for us and improved service for our community members. Growing the number of household visits grants more adults and children access to our social support services, such as Social Workers/Social Auxiliary Workers and child protection. We are also proud to have 25 ECD practitioners (all women), an increase from previous years, undergoing training through Topsy. This means more ECD centres will be run efficiently, offering children age-appropriate learning.

Another exciting change in our HECD Programme is the addition of the Caregiver/Parental Capacity Building Project. The essential aim of this project is to bring ECD into the home, for those children coming from households unable to get the children to an ECD centre. There are many such homes, as the well-respected South African Early Childhood Review attests to in its 2017 finding. This report showed that 111 000 children in Mpumalanga do not attend an ECD centre, the negative effects of which are long term.

Our project aims to build the capacity of primary caregivers to access the essential elements of an ECD package from conception. This includes good nutrition, primary healthcare, play and learning opportunities, as well as social protection services for children from conception to six years of age. It will be implemented early next month and once up and running, aims to reach 500 beneficiaries. The programme was adapted from the UNICEF Parental Capacity Building programme, with training facilitated by eLRU (Early Learning Resource Unit).

Along with the eLRU training, our staff did Protective Behaviours (PB) training, a child safety concept created and facilitated by Protective Behaviours SA. PB helps children to develop the self-confidence and skills needed to help them avoid victimisation, by teaching them to recognise the concept of personal safety and trust their intuition. Child protection is of great importance to us; as such we will include PB when implementing the Caregiver Capacity Building Project.

One of our proudest accomplishments in 2019 was reaching 6 000 beneficiaries through our Food Security Project, through which we empower communities to grow their own food by providing training and tools for their vegetable gardens. These gardens can now be found in ECD centres and schools, as well as individual homes and larger community gardens.

With all the positive changes, the recent training to improve our programme and the increase in beneficiary numbers, Topsy is leaping into 2020 with greater enthusiasm and knowledge. We now need your donations to help us continue protecting the rights of children during their critical, formative years, ensuring they reach their cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential in rural Dipaleseng, Mpumalanga.

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