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Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa

by Even Ground
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa
Start a Preschool for 60 Children in South Africa

We just completed the first half of the 2019 school year and are pleased to report that things at Siyabonga are going well. All our students are doing well – enjoying their time here and learning many new things, but our 4-year-old group is doing exceptionally well. Even though we are only in the middle of the year, they are already meeting the performance expectations for the full year and showing more maturity than usual. The teachers too are focused on learning - all four are continuing with their studies at University of South Africa and meeting regularly to share what they are learning.

In recognition of the contribution of students to ending Apartheid in South Africa, June is Youth Month and June 16 is a national holiday. For those who don’t know the history, in June 1976, during Apartheid, students boycotted school to protest a law that required Afrikanns as the medium of instruction, a language a majority of students did not speak. The students, who were demonstrating peacefully, were met by heavily armed police who first fired teargas and then live ammunition at the students. This event was significant in bringing worldwide attention to the policies of Apartheid and is credited with beginning the change of the political landscape in South Africa.

In recognition of Youth Month, every June at Siyabonga we have curriculum and activities related to the theme of Children’s Rights and Responsibilities. Although our youngest may not fully understand the significance of the history and the importance of children’s rights, we think it is critical to introduce the ideas to our children. We talk with them in particular about the right children have to a good education and their responsibility to study.

Just prior to our school holiday, we concluded our Youth celebration with an event for families and community members. The children did activities to demonstrate the rights they had learned and other accomplishments they have achieved during the first half of the school year.

Shorthly before our own celebration, we were honored to host the Minister of the Department of Social Development. Siyabonga was selected from all the ECD centers in the district to perform during her visit. The children performed some of things we had been preparing for our own celebration. The Minister was impressed with the performance of the students, particularly our older students who did extremely well on their rhymes, shapes, parts of the body, and their rights and responsibilities. The children also appeared on the television news that afternoon. Children were thrilled to be given school bags for performing.

Thank you again for your ongoing support. You are the ones that make it possible for us to provide this important program for children in our area.

Siyabonga opened for the new school year on January 7. It was wonderful to see all of our returning children, as well as welcome children coming to the Centre for the first time. We have 79 children enrolled this year, which is all we are able to accommodate. (Another 37 children are on the waiting list.)

January is always a challenging month, with new children adjusting to a different routine and being away from family. Many of the younger ones cry when they are first left. Older children who are just starting school for the first time have a different challenge, as most children their age are ahead of them in their learning. Fortunately, our staff is well trained and patient and able to provide the support the children need to help them through the transition.

February and March were more joyful for the children, as they all had adjusted to school and made friends. Particularly during outdoor play, we could see that they were really having fun at the Centre.

In addition to the critical services we provide for children and families in our community, we are proud to be able to provide job opportunities for seven people in our area, which has an extremely high unemployment rate (over 50%). We are committed to providing training to staff and encouraging them to pursue their own education. One of our three original staff members, who was hired as a cook, completed her high school education and went on to get two certificates in early childhood development while working for us. A few years ago she was promoted to teacher. Currently, we have a 43-year-old woman volunteering with us who has two children and one grandchild. She comes in each morning at 5:30 am to prepare breakfast for the children. She had stopped school at Grade 11; so when she became a volunteer last year, I encouraged her to continue. She is now getting her Grade 12 certificate and is planning to register for early childhood development classes in the coming year.

Thank you so much for your support. You can help us continue to make a difference for people in our community by giving to us through GlobalGiving. And if you give next week, April 8-12, your donation will go even further. GlobalGiving will match donations up to $50 at 50% during their Little by Little campaign, a week-long event designed to help celebrate the power of the crowd and demonstrate that small donations add up to BIG change!

With deep appreciation,

Khethiwe

On December 6, a celebration was held for the 31 children who graduated from Siyabonga Early Childhood Development Centre. Along with families, staff, and Board members, a number of principals and teachers from nearby primary schools attended. The children were excited to perform for so many people. Everybody who attended was surprised by how well the children did. Both the children and the staff felt proud of all they have accomplished this year.

The families in the area that Siyabonga serves struggle with many challenges, including extreme poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, and serious health issues, all of which can negatively impact the children’s cognitive, motor, and social development. The programs at Siyabonga are designed to positively influence the children’s development by providing nutritious meals, a stimulating learning environment, and positive social interactions with other children and staff. Children leave Siyabonga more prepared to start primary school. In addition, we believe the early support the children receive is key to changing the course of their lives. Siyabonga was pleased to be able to provide services for 80 children this year and to add a new after school program. In addition to continuing their current programs for the upcoming school year, they are hoping to start support groups for parents and guardian next year, especially young parents.

We want to thank you again for your donations this past year. We are truly grateful to all of you whose generosity made it possible for us to support these critical services. And, a very special thank you to those of you who have signed up to give monthly. You are all an essential part of the work we do. Without your help, Siyabonga would not have been able to continue these vital programs.

As the year draws to a close, please consider giving what you can to ensure we can continue to serve so many children from disadvantaged backgrounds in the upcoming year. We are only a few thousand dollars short of our fundraising goal for 2018 and, with your help, I know we can reach it by the end of the year. In this most joyous of seasons, you can bring hope into a child’s life by making a tax-deductible contribution to Siyabonga. Working together, we can create healthier and happier lives for children and their families.

Thank you so much for your support!

Warm wishes for a wonderful new year.

Graduation 2018
Graduation 2018
Children Performing at Graduation
Children Performing at Graduation

#GivingTueday is a global celebration of giving that harnesses the potential of social media and collaboration, as well as the generosity of people around the world, to bring about real change. #GivingTuesday brings together the collective power of diverse groups of individuals, communities, and organizations to celebrate and encourage giving and to amplify small acts of kindness. As a global movement, #GivingTuesday unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another.

This Tuesday, November 27, #GivingTuesday 2018, Global Giving is partnering with projects on their site, like Thembanahti. All donations to Thembanathi will be eligible for a share of the $150,000 incentive fund being awarded by Global Giving. The incentive will be distributed proportionally based on the total funds raised by participants.

We at Thembanathi believe every child deserves a healthy start and a bright future. We are grateful that with your support this year over 75 children, like the children featured below, had the opportunity to learn and play and to enjoy two nutritious meals a day. We need your help to continue the amazing work of Siyabonga in the upcoming year. Please remember Thembanathi this #GivingTuesday with your donation. 

Here are the stories of just four of the children’s lives that were changed because of you:

Ongeziwe is 3 years old. She is very intelligent and excels in all areas at school  – numbers, reading, and rhymes. She plays well with other students and is very caring towards them. She would like to be a doctor when she grows up.  Ongeziwe was living with her father and aunt until earlier in the year when her father committed suicide. She was very close to her father and struggled with the loss for some time. The staff at Siyabonga tried their best to help her come to terms with his death and heal.

Aphiwe started at Siyabonga two years ago when he was 2 years old. He adores school and is always present. He is very intelligent and has a good memory. He enjoys leading activities in class and assisting others. In the picture, he is acting in a drama, playing the role of a Zulu man. Aphiwe wants to be a Police Officer when he grows up. Aphiwe lives with his mother, grandmother, and uncle. No one in the family is working, so they depend on social grants for their survival.

Nhlonipho, who is 4 years old, is active, creative, and very talented in a lot of school activities. Here he is teaching other students about the meaning of different colors in the South African flag. He wants to be a Police Officer when he grows up. Nhlonipho is living with his grandmother while his mother is studying at a college in Durban. His father is unemployed except for occasional odd jobs. The family is struggling financially and depends on social grants in order to put food on the table. They are thankful that Nhlonipho gets breakfast and lunch at Siyabonga.

Fundiswa is 4 years old. She is a brilliant girl and does very well in all her lessons. She grasps things easily and has a good memory. She likes school and is eager to go to primary school next year and wear a uniform. She would like to be a nurse when she grows up. She lives with her mother, father, and a younger brother. Her father works as a police officer.

Thank you for joining with others around the world who are participating in #GivingTuesday by giving to Thembanathi on Tuesday, November 27. You will be making a real difference in the lives of the children we serve.

Ongeziwe
Ongeziwe
Aphiwe
Aphiwe
Nhlonipho
Nhlonipho
Fundiswa
Fundiswa

This month is the 15th anniversary of Thembanathi. Many of you know our story. It started when our founder, Lindsey Reynolds, visited South Africa for the first time in 2003. While there she and a fellow student from Wesleyan University visited Holy Cross, an NGO that was providing hospice and other services to families in the area. Holy Cross also had a small childcare center to provide more intensive early education and intervention services for children in the area. The center was operating then  in an old single-car garage. Upon returning to the U.S., Lindsey and Angela started Thembanathi to support the center. In 2004, Holy Cross was able to expand their programming and open a large early childhood development center that can accommodate up to 120 children. We were fortunate to be there to help them set up the new center. For the last 15 years, we have supported the early childhood programs at Holy Cross, first at the main center and, starting in 2006, at three additional small centers in more remote areas.

In 2011, Lindsey was doing research for her dissertation a couple of hours north of Holy Cross. She was approached by community leaders who asked for her assistance in starting an early childhood development and care center in their area. They understood the importance of education for their children’s future and knew that early educational support is crucial for children and families, but they lacked the resources and networks to get such an initiative going. In 2012, with support from many of you, we provided the funds to open a temporary center. Over the next two years, we raised the fund to construct a new building and, in January 2014, we opened Siyabonga Early Childhood Development Centre. The center is currently at capacity and provides 80 children each year with a positive, caring, and safe space to learn and develop, and with two nutritious meals a day. Early intervention is key to helping young people succeed in school and enabling them to transcend the cycle of chronic poverty that has shaped their communities.

Thanks to all of you for your support over the years and for helping so many children from challenging backgrounds reach the bright futures they deserve. 

Update from Siyabonga

Last month, we were able to take the children on a field trip to a cheese farm.  The children were really excited to see the animals there, many of which they had read about but never actually seen before - horses, ostriches, goats, cows, pigs, and peacocks. They also got to see how to milk a cow and how cheese is made. They were given the opportunity to feed the animals and play on the jungle gym. They really enjoyed everything and talked about it long afterwards both at home and at school. 

 



 

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Organization Information

Even Ground

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Lindsey Reynolds
Scarsdale, NY United States
$40,230 raised of $50,000 goal
 
505 donations
$9,770 to go
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