Our hearts are full and we are sending a quick update.
We as the Zero2Five Trust provide nutritional and educational support to children attending an excess of 400 unfunded and under-resourced Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD centres) in vulnerable, mostly rural communities in two provinces in South Africa, namely KZN and the Eastern Cape. We also offers practical support to the centres in form of registration work with the Department of Social Development (DSD) and subsidy applications. In addition, capacity building of the ECD practitioners is done through training and education. To enable the proper development of children in ECD Centres, the holistic development of children needs to transpire, which requires proper infrastructure, learning material, nutrition programmes, teacher capacitation as well as parent involvement.
The outbreak of the COVID -19 pandemic and the sudden school closure in South Africa on March 17th brought a significant challenge in providing nutritional support to the children at the ECD centres. Prior to lockdown, Zero2Five supplied over 17 000 children at about 400 ECDs with a 1-month supply of the fortified porridge and lunch. When the hard lockdown started, these children needed to be reached at their homes, mostly in rural areas on dirt roads.
The same problem applied to an estimated 10 Million South African Primary and High School pupils who were now deprived of their regular school meals, at a time when food prices were increasing and many of their parents lost their jobs.
Thanks to the success of this "Fill the school meal gap campaign" and a few other fundraising efforts, we were able to scale up our nutrition programme immensely and from May, with the help of our NPO partners, we were able to distribute 15 tonnes of dry food (fortified porridge and rice/soy meals) into the poor communities. This translates to 300 000 meals every month.
We also opened up local restaurant Bellevue Cafe under level 5 lockdown and started a much celebrated community soup kitchen. After 12 weeks of operating, we had served 6500 x 5 l buckets of delicious chicken stew into our needy households at a time when gas and fire wood for cooking were running out. These cooked meals were such a welcomed bonus for the families who benefitted.
When the ECD centres were given the green light to re-open, we were able to assist 150 unfunded centres with PPEs for them to ensure a safe environment for teachers and children alike.
It is good to see the children back at school since September, now we know they get their regular meals and exposure to educational sessions again.
The lockdown translates into a huge setback for South Africa as a whole, the economy is on its knees, unemployment figures around 47% and many ECD centres struggle as parents can’t pay the minimal fees. We see the rest of 2020 and most of 2021 as catch up time for the children on our programme to catch up growth and development milestones.
Towards the end of September, we are filled with gratitude and joy, it is good to return to what will be the "new normal".
A heartfelt thank you to all our donors, without you, none of this would be possible. We encourage you to continue supporting our and similar fundraising campaigns for young children. They are the ones suffering from the long term effects of this pandemic, most.
With best wishes from South Africa,
the Zero2Five team,
Julika, Poppy, Sne, Linda