Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa

by Thanda UK
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa

Project Report | Sep 12, 2023
Learning and Free-Play at our Fun Foundations

By Kelly Clark | Partnerships and Development Manager

Ntengo FF Playgroup reading Odd Dog Out
Ntengo FF Playgroup reading Odd Dog Out

Fun Foundations in one of our key Early Learning programmes at Thanda, originated as informal playgroups for children of our Organic Farming Programme participants. Children from these households live too far to attend either our centre-based or satellite ECD programmes and without any other local ECD Centres, they were staying at home or accompanying their guardians to their farms and missing out on critical social, physical, and cognitive developmental opportunities. We currently have a total of 7 Fun Foundation playgroups around the community. The playgroups are based at 6 households in the community, volunteered by members of the community who are appreciative for their children to have an opportunity to learn while they tend to their farms. One playgroup has their own space constructed by Thanda because they are located within Dweshula Farm, one of our Nisela Farms for about 50 farmers. 

The informal groups were introduced to facilitate basic development and help children meet necessary milestones. In the years since their initial formation, they have become more structured and formalized and, in 2022, our Fun Foundations Programmes spent the year transitioning to using parts of our full, proprietary ECD curriculum, so that all of the children in our Early Learning Initiatives, no matter where their instruction takes place, are now learning via the same high quality.

Every day the children receive a bowl of porridge and a warm lunch meal. This feeding scheme is an essential aspect of all our ECD programme as it ensures that the children are nourished and receptive to learning. These meals are cooked at a nearby household, with Thanda providing the pots, ingredients, and a stipend for the volunteer cook. 


Our Early Learning curriculum is curated around learning through story books. Learning through storybooks is highly beneficial in early learning education as it offers numerous advantages to young children's cognitive, emotional, and social development. Storybooks ignite children's imagination and creativity. By visualizing characters, settings, and events in their minds, children develop their creative thinking abilities. They also learn to think beyond the literal and explore abstract concepts, fostering their imaginative capacities. Here are some activities and favorite story books we have explored in 2023! 

"Odd Dog Out" by Rob Biddulph is a delightful children's book about a dog named Odd Dog who feels different from the rest. In a world where conformity is the norm, Odd Dog embraces her individuality, embarking on a journey to find her place where she can be herself. Through captivating pictures and playful rhymes, the book emphasizes the importance of embracing uniqueness and teaches children the value of being true to oneself, while promoting acceptance and celebrating differences. It delivers a positive and empowering message, encouraging young readers to embrace their individuality with confidence. 

When children first attend school, they begin to compare themselves with their friends and classmates. They will begin to recognize differences between themselves and others. They may feel that being different from their peers is a problem which could put a dent in their self-esteem. Reading books like Odd Dog Out and discussing it in this manner allows them to explore those differences and accept and even celebrate them from a young age. One activity aimed at encouraging children to embrace their differences was “I am unique because...”. The children had to share with their group what makes them unique and different from their peers, and then complete a drawing to go with their quotes. Such an activity also develops their sense of identity and belonging while the painting heightens their imagination and creativity skills. They also deeply explored the concept of diversity through discussion questions such as ‘would the world be better if everyone was the same?'. 

Another book the children enjoyed was ‘They All Saw a Cat’ by Brendan Wentzel which helps children explore truth, reality, perception, and perspective. The book follows a young cat who travels through the world and is described by all the other animals it interacts with along the way. All the animals describe the cat in ways that reflect their personal interactions with the cat and how they physically see the cat Keeping in mind they have different eyes and different viewpoints, the cat is ‘seen’ by a fox, a bird, a mouse, a worm, a flea, a snake, and a skunk among others. Each of these animals have a unique view and perception of the cat and at the end of the book, there is an abstract view of the cat as it combines the numerous descriptions from the animals who see things differently. The book aids the discussion with children around different perspectives.

In one activity, the children are asked to share what they think the real image of the cat is and why. Eventually the discussion is led towards teaching them that all the views could be right as each is the animals’ own truth. Through learning that the way they perceive things might not be the same for the next person, children learn that things are not always black and white. Exposing children to books like ‘Odd Dog Out’ and ‘They All Saw a Cat’, promotes their self-awareness, increases their curiosity and critical thinking ability, and aids them in building interpersonal relationships and an open-minded view of the world. The curriculum also allows for plenty of learning through play which is a stimulating way to learn especially for children at the playgroups. Developing the children’s sense of wonder through fantasy play is crucial for Early Childhood Development (ECD) as it offers numerous benefits for children's overall growth and development like creativity and imagination, social skills, and physical development of growing children.

Play is a natural and enjoyable way for young children to explore the world around them and make sense of their experiences. Andile, the Fun Foundations Volnter at Dweshula shares with us why it is important to let children play. She says, “What I have noticed is that the jungle has become a place for the children to step out of their shells. Even the quietest child in group, is bold and interacting with other children on the playground. To get the children more engaged we’d also step in and say “let’s play friends” instead of saying “let’s learn”. So, playing is an important way to get the children excited and ready to go! There are important areas we try to get the children comfortable in and develop well in. The children understand that the playground is place for fun and everyone on the playground is important. They have also learnt to be patient with others – because not all of them can climb up the jungle gym or swing at the same time. So, they have to take turns. We also encourage them to do that. Another example is when another child cannot elevate themselves to be able to swing. The children used to laugh at each other when one of them could not to do that, now because they have gotten used to playing together and understanding – you will hear the children say things like “you can do it friend” “Okay let me show you”.” 

We would love to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters for your generous donations. The value of your support cannot be underestimated!



Teacher Dudu reading to the group
Teacher Dudu reading to the group
Finger painting at the playgroup
Finger painting at the playgroup
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Organization Information

Thanda UK

Location: London - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @thandaproject
Project Leader:
Candice McGregor
London , United Kingdom
$11,414 raised of $35,000 goal
122 donations
$23,586 to go
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