This summer, during my 2-week visit to Cape Town, South Africa, I met up with Jovanna to visit Ikamva's brand new building and get a tour of their early child care development facilities. Boy, was it a treat!
The new building is the new home for their operational base, including:
-- training spaces (where they train local women in early childhood development (ECD))
-- on-site day care (modeled after real-life kiddie classrooms, with glass windows so that instructors can observe and guide play facilitation)
-- counseling offices (for meeting with and updating family members)
-- and a large kitchen that kept producing such yummy food smells, not for me (unfortunately), but for the students and children.
The building is an outstanding achivement shared by the entire community. I surmised from the conversations I had with Jovana, other Ikamva staff, and even an ECD practitioner-in-training that it's really made a huge difference already; the opportunity for the women to practice ECD theory in an actual kindergarten setting, and in their native languages has resulted in increased learning retention (for the ECD practitioners) and receptiveness (on the part of the children).
The most exciting part of my visit was getting to see the lead ECD instructor guide a cohort of caretakers-in-training through a learning/facilitation method: as another play facilitator attended to a group of about 20 kids (aged 1-4) within the glass walls of one of their on-site children's play rooms, 8 women, huddled together, peered through as they listened to the lead instructor observe and comment on the activities.
It was really fascinating to watch, but even more fun to go in and participate in activities with the childrenm. We played a few games, and I learned the first two lines of a children's song in Xhosa (though, admittedly, the children sang way better than I did).
After spending some time at the childcare center, Jovana took me to visit several other sites Ikamva supports, including an informal day care center in one of the townships (run by a really sweet older lady), and their very own community space for Elders, where older women can play games, read books, and do aerobics. In fact, a contingent of grannies was away that day because they were competing in some physical games in another township.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Ikamva, and was so inspired by the passion and dedication of every single person I met. They're an organization that's creating real change within the communities they serve, by supporting leadership from within. For the sake of the children and young women I met, who have no doubt been touched by Ikamva's dedication, I'm so thankful that they exist.
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