“EDUCATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON YOU CAN USE TO CHANGE THE WORLD” - Nelson Mandela
What happens to children in the early years of their life is of critical importance to their immediate well-being and to their future. Their experiences during this period set a foundation for their entire life. Especially for vulnerable and disadvantaged children, early childhood education and care is the key to change. Since 2004, Thembanathi has been working to provide funding for early childhood education and development programs, while strengthening families and building communities, in an area of rural South Africa devastated by the HIV epidemic and the longstanding effects of racial segregation, poverty, and unemployment. This year Thembanathi worked with a new community group to help them open their first early childhood education and care center. Approached by community leaders who saw this as an urgent need in their community, Thembanathi’s founding director enthusiastically agreed to help make their dream come true.
Because of the critical need for this service, the community leaders decided to approach the project in two phases. In January of this year, with the support of many generous donors, Thembanathi was able to assist with the opening of Siyabonga Crèche in a temporary facility, on loan from a community member. Although the building is small (400 square feet), 28 children were enrolled and since January have been attending the crèche. The children, many of who are from single parent families or living with extended family, now have a safe place to learn and play.
Since January, Thembanathi has been able to secure the funds needed to ensure the center is able to continue operating for the next year. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us reach our first milestone. We are very grateful to all of the individuals and organization that made this possible. We would like to give special thanks to MAXIMUS Charitable Foundation for funding the crèche for six weeks and to the Delta Kappa Gamma Education Foundation for their grant to purchase books and education materials, and to Varme Små Hjerter (Warm Little Hearts) from Norway who sent clothes and shoes to all the children at the crèche. We would also like to acknowledge Andrew Klaber and the Board of Orphans Against AIDS for their support of our project.
Our focus has now shifted to raising funds to build a permanent home for the crèche. The director of the crèche recently completed interviews with local families and learned there are an additional 30 children between the ages of two and five that urgently need services. Additionally, there are 20 children under two that will need the service in the near future. This census reinforces the validity of our plan to build a new center that can accomodate at least 60 children.
We are off to good start with this new campaign, having raised or received pledges for 20% of the estimated building costs. With everyone’s help, we are confident we can achieve this ambitious goal. In addition to financial contributions, Thembanathi supporters can help in a variety of ways. We’d love for you to get involved!
Some examples of things you could do are:
- Dedicate a birthday, marathon, or other special event to Thembanathi and ask family and friends to give to Thembanathi in your honor.
- Host a party at your home, church, or workplace to sell our South African jewelry and art, a great way to raise funds and also support women’s income generation projects in South Africa.
- Like us on Facebook and help spread the word about our work.
Please visit our website for more information or to contact us – www.thembanathi.org. We are very enthused to work with all of you to help this community make their dream a reality!!
“I can't wait for the child care center to be built in my community. Thanks to all of you, now our future will be brighter. This is the best thing that has happened in my community.“ - Nothando Sabela