Feb 15, 2019

A Brief Update of 2019 So Far

Early Childhood Development - Imaginative Play
Early Childhood Development - Imaginative Play

Over the holidays, children and youth came to our Community Centre to skate, play, and read books while others traveled to visit family. Now, 2019 has started off with a bang! 

In our After-school programmes we added one new class this year, but almost every class has grown in size and excitement! Our first week of After-school lessons began with ice-breakers, fun games, and art activities to introduce ourselves and start learning about our identity. Do you remember After-school Facilitator Janet from two reports ago? Janet (pictured below) facilitates Grade 1 and is most excited to read Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph with her class. Stories are a big part of our Creative Learning Curriculum and helps us take a new approach to teaching game-changing skills like empathy and self-esteem. Odd Dog Out is a story about a dog's life in New York City as she tries to find her place in the world although she doesn't quite fit in. It's lonely being Odd Dog Out and she's willing to go to the other side of the world to look for her place, but it might take a different kind of journey for her to discover that maybe where she's meant to be is right back where she started. We love stories that help children and youth in our community figure out their identity and OWN it.

If you haven’t seen the new video about our After-school Programme visit the link at the bottom of this report to see just how much your support makes an impact!

In our Early Childhood Development programme there were many new smiling faces at the start of January. Although some children were crying because they were missing their guardians, their tears quickly disappeared when the fun began! Our curriculum includes discovery walks, story time, academic lessons, physical activity and more. At the playground, kids get to be free and have fun with their friends. Early childhood development lays the foundation for a child’s life-long learning. To truly make a lasting impact in a child’s life, it is crucial to provide them with socio-emotional, physical, linguistic and academic support so that all children have the opportunity to thrive. 

We also made an ECD Programme video, check it out below! Your support creates so many smiling little faces every day. 

We’re most excited that we expanded our reach in early learning at the end of 2018 with a new pilot programme called Fun Foundations. The programme began because we noticed that many Thanda farmers (our third core programme) had their children or grandchildren with them at the farm because there was nowhere else for their young family members to go. In fact, across the twenty-three Thanda farms, there are 84 children under the age of five, many of them spending their mornings at the farm because crèches are too far away. This lack of educational stimulation can dramatically impact their early learning development. Luckily for them, Manager of Thanda ECD, Nokuthula, had the idea to take ECD to the farms so more children had access to quality learning opportunities. Of the farms we work with, some crèches are as far as 4km away, which doubled as a journey there and back, is too far for little legs to walk every day!

Fun Foundations playgroups take place from Monday to Thursday every morning, when the farmers are working. These playgroups are led by paid Fun Foundation volunteers, who have been hired from the community and are being training by a partner organization, Singakwenza. Currently we have 44 children enrolled across six farms and anticipate expanding in the years to come once we establish the success of the pilot. Nafisa, Fun Foundation volunteer said that she has learnt so much from being a teacher to the children in her playgroup, saying “I have also learned how to help them grow and learn. They can sing rhymes and name colors, or count to five or ten. They know the differences between big things and small things, and they have respect for one another like brothers and sisters.”

Thank you for continuing to create essential growth in our programmes like Fun Foundations. We can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in 2019!

Love,

Thanda

Fun Foundations Playgroup at Thembabantu Farm
Fun Foundations Playgroup at Thembabantu Farm
After-school Games with Musa
After-school Games with Musa
Janet with the book, Odd Dog Out
Janet with the book, Odd Dog Out
Farmer and Fun Foundations Participant Smiling!
Farmer and Fun Foundations Participant Smiling!
After-school Facilitator Mbusi preparing for class
After-school Facilitator Mbusi preparing for class

Links:

Dec 21, 2018

Together, We're Disrupting the Status Quo

Happy Holidays from all of us to you!
Happy Holidays from all of us to you!

Disrupting a challenge isn’t easy.

It requires that we pause, look around and observe our world rather than getting caught up in the mundane. It necessitates that we think critically about our situation, our environment and how it is all interconnected. And, that we confront these challenges with resilience and strength, empowered by what we have learned and our own capabilities. Then, we can create disruptions.

Our community faces many challenges every day. Some children suffer from stunting due to a lack of healthy foods to eat and some adults struggle to find employment and feel disempowered. Some youth receive a low quality education and do not graduate high school, while others have too many responsibilities and began bullying in school. With your help, we are disrupting challenges like these every day at Thanda. Your support allows many people in our community to become the hero of their own story to create a future they are truly proud of.

Over the past two months, we’ve shared disruption stories from the amazing people in our community who have faced challenges and succeeded in completely destroying them! Here are some of our favourites.

Neliswa and Lwazi:

Nanini-Nanini farmer and mother, Neliswa, is happy that her son, Lwazi (age 4), is now learning every day, saying, “I really like that my son is in Fun Foundations (a new early learning extension programme at our farms). Now, he comes home (with me) every day and shares what he has learned. He can count to ten, he knows the difference between small and big and can sing many songs about parts of the body, even in English. He knows what school is now and likes it. It will help him for Grade R, which he is starting in January. He had no ECD experience.” Neliswa is happy to have joined the Thanda family, seeing benefits for herself and her family. She added, “Before Fun Foundations, he (Lwazi) would be at home doing nothing constructive. I would have to work or we didn’t have the things for him to play with. Now he is learning while I can farm.” When we asked Lwazi what his favourite part of Fun Foundations was, he said “being in a circle and singing”, then he broke out in song singing “if you’re happy and you know it” – he is so cute! Read more...

Zande, Hlengiwe and Nokuthula:

When Zande started at Thanda ECD she could not speak and her mother was concerned she had a permanent disability. Thanda’s Head ECD Facilitator, Nokuthula, said she used to put her teeth together and when she would try to speak she would making a humming sound. So Nokuthula practiced activities with her that she had learnt during her ECD training, such as blowing balloons and singing certain songs to open up her mouth and use those muscles.

Nokuthula said “Because I didn’t want to take Zande out of the group, I did the activities with all of my kids. I think by March or June she was able to speak well, and then her mother came to Thanda to say thank you.”  Zande’s mom, Hlengiwe was so grateful and said “At Thanda, children get together with other children and teachers give them love, she (Nokuthula) takes care of my child.” Because of doing those activities and having ongoing communication with Hlengiwe we were able to help further outside of the classroom and at home.

In fact, Hlengiwe was so grateful that she decided to come and volunteer at Thanda as an ECD Assistant this year! As for Zande, she is just finishing Grade R with passing grades!

Smiso:

Smiso, an After-school Facilitator of ten years, says there are so many challenges he has faced, but all of these obstacles have made him the person he is today and a better mentor to his students. He continues, “ I lost both my parents when I was fourteen and I really wasn’t ready to be in their absence. It was hard at that time because I depended on them for so much, emotionally and physically, but I believed things would get better and I was able to overcome this challenge.” 

In 2008, he joined Thanda and after that everything changed. Smiso felt more confident and finally, with work and purpose, he felt his life had truly started. In class, he is extremely jubilant and caring. Looking back at his challenges, now they are given meaning. He says, “I love to work with kids because they remind me of myself growing up. They also have many challenges and now, I am able to help them. I don’t want to see them give up because something is tough. Losing my parents helps me to relate to children in my class who need to open up and talk about issues they would normally talk to their immediate parents about. I understand their behaviour and that they are behaving in this way because of some outside issues, it’s not just because they are that way. The behaviour of a person tells you where that person comes from." Read more...

All of these disruptions have happened because of you and are an example of what your generosity means to everyone in our community. From our staff, ECD and after-school participants, farmers and community members, we are so grateful. 

We’re so close to our year-end fundraising goal for 2018. In fact, we only have $3,296 left! If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year, visit our Project Page.

We hope you have enjoyed a wonderful festive season filled with love.

Love, 

Thanda

After-school Facilitator Smiso
After-school Facilitator Smiso
Zande and Hlengiwe
Zande and Hlengiwe
Lwazi and Neliswa
Lwazi and Neliswa
Sep 26, 2018

Janet's Hero Story

Janet
Janet

The past few months, through our Thanda Superheroes discussions, we’ve been questioning the idea of what truly makes heroes. Is it because they are brave? Do they have super-natural powers? Are they inherently good or are good and bad closer than we think? These are some of the questions we ask participants in our After-school Programme when we do activities aimed at seeing themselves as heroes, rather than victims. It is with this idea in mind that we begin to see ourselves as capable change-makers and possible heroes in our own communities. Then, we help others to do the same.

We asked some of the participants, facilitators, and other staff at Thanda to share their own hero story; who their hero is and a time when they were a hero to someone else. After-school facilitator Janet’s hero is Angela Larkan, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Thanda. They have been together since the beginning (10 years ago!) and much has changed since. 

Who is your hero?

My hero is Angela Larkan.  I was in grade 11 when Thanda first came to my school, which was the beginning of the organisation, 2010.  It was a big surprise and I was glad to be a part of it. Especially because in my home I grew up with my granny and I didn’t receive a lot of information or have opportunities to improve myself and explore my talents. All I had done my entire life was school and academics.

The programme assisted me to pass my metric. Those years, most kids were failing, but I passed my physical science and maths and my class still holds the highest number of kids passing in one year. Afterward, I was not able to go to University because my Granny could not afford it. There are very few opportunities to work or gain skills, so I stayed at home a lot. Then Thanda offered me the opportunity to volunteer if I wanted to and I took it right away. Then, in 2011 I got my first full-time job as a Thanda Facilitator. At that point I became the breadwinner for my family. From 2011 until today I am the breadwinner. While I was working at Thanda, I did a certificate in Financial Management so I could gain skills on how to keep track of my finances and not spend money on useless things. Now, I am about to start a teaching degree with UNISA.

In 2014, I asked Angela and Tyler if they would allow me to explore America for a summer camp programme as a Camp Leader. They agreed without hesitation and I went to Pennsylvania. There, I was able to be a leader to a different group of children each week throughout the summer. I found this opportunity online and I was very glad to still have my job at Thanda when I came back. If they said no, I would not have gone because I would not want to lose this job after the summer since it’s how I support my family.  They were very kind and assisted me with the paperwork and followed up with how I was doing. The programme was really nice because I was able to learn about different cultures and places and work with different children. I gained a lot of experiences that help me here regarding taking care of and teaching children.

What qualities do you believe a hero has?

My hero, Angela Larkan, has a lot of love and patience. I know it is not always easy to work in this area. When I first started working here I wasn’t very good at my job, but they helped me and taught me the different ways that I can improve myself in my work and learn new skills.

So, a hero loves people and is patient. They just want to help at the end of the day. Whatever they do, they make sure it is successful, no matter what happens…such as helping me make my dreams come true.

Tell us about a time when you have been a hero to someone else?

I am hero to the children that I work with. I am a Primary School Facilitator and I teach grades R and 1. I love teaching the little ones because in my community people do not always respect their opinions. Someone who is young is not taken very seriously, and it is an elder whose opinion that counts. I believe this discourages young children to make decisions and share their opinion. Also, their self-esteem is lower at an important age for development. So I feel like spending time with children gives me a chance to give them the attention that they need and a chance to hear about what they think about the things that are happening in their lives, what they appreciate, what their expectations are, etc. They share issues and challenges that they face with their families that they cannot always share with their parents. They can open up to me and in our community that is a huge need. This has given me a skill to love people and be open both in my classes and with anyone I meet.

I am also a hero in that I provide for my family and make sure we have a home. I take care of my grandma and my two siblings, a brother and a sister.

So you are a lot like Angela?

(laughter) Yes. I suppose so. I am glad I am like that now and have grown through this job. That is why I want to become a teacher, so I can help others even more.

Thank you for your ongoing support that makes stories like this possible. 

P.S.

We have some exciting news- We placed second in the category of Sustainable Cities & Communities for the Beyond Sport Awards. The award is for having our skatepark as such an important resource in the community. We competed amongst hundreds of organisations globally and are so proud of our programmes and support teams! 

We’re also in the top 10 out of 29 projects in the running for the Spindle’s Best Innovation for Development Award. Winning this award will enable us to share our Creative Learning Curriculum with non-profits and after-school programmes around South Africa. Public voting is open until September 30th, so please share the link with your friends and family! Vote here: https://thespindle.org/project/the-lifelong-learning-library-3l/

Janet with students and Iron Man masks
Janet with students and Iron Man masks
Angela Larkan with ECD participants
Angela Larkan with ECD participants
Vote for Us!
Vote for Us!
Beyond Sport Awards in New York, USA
Beyond Sport Awards in New York, USA
Nosipho on Stage at the Beyond Sport Awards
Nosipho on Stage at the Beyond Sport Awards

Links:

 
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