Changing children's lives in the home

by Starting Chance Trust
Changing children's lives in the home
Changing children's lives in the home
Changing children's lives in the home
Changing children's lives in the home
Showing love
Showing love

February is the month dedicated to expressing love! The origin of St Valentine's day is hazy - but all accounts share one value. LOVE. It is a word that encompasses so many different interpretations but for us working in a poverty stricken environment beseiged by drugs, COVID-19, job losses, family losses and often a sense of hopelessness, it is sometimes difficult to know how to share our love by making a difference.

As we begin 2021 and the 30 schools we support start to reopen their doors, there is an uneasy air of "what now?" For many families in Mfuleni, 2020 was a dreadful year. Many lost loved ones, many lost jobs and with COVID still around, there is a reluctance to feel hopeful. Children stayed at home for much of 2020 as schools were closed. Unlike their richer counterparts, it was not easy for parents to offer alternatives to school in the home. Data is expensive so looking for programmes on tablets, computers and even smart phones was out of reach for most. Toys and books were not a possibility for many families who were struggling to put food on the table. So parents did the best they could with what they had. 

How are we going to show LOVE in 2021 - love that means the children can learn, have resources and live a life of a child with meaningul play and fun in the home. As part of the Level 3 restrictions in South Africa due to COVID, we are not allowed to have gatherings of any size which means we are not able to have parent workshops in the first half of 2021. So we will do it differently! 

We will run small group workshops with teachers in all our schools and give ideas for using recycled material as educational equipment. We will ask teachers to share these ideas with the parents of the children they teach as part of the outreach to the community. 

On 17 July 2021, we will honour an amazing South African man who showed his love for this country by dedicating his life to service. Nelson Mandela spent 67 years of his life pursuing justice and freedom. Every year people all over the world dedicate 67 minutes of their time to service or donate money in any denomination to go towards a worthy cause.  

In 2021, we ask the question: "How will you show love?" Please consider donating to Starting Chance so that we can offer parents and children resources and educational packs so that learning can happen at home. You will be helping us to save a generation!

We all love being loved
We all love being loved
Love in action
Love in action

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Eager parents learn games they can play at home
Eager parents learn games they can play at home

It has been a troublesome year – and we are still not out of the woods. In Mfuleni, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc with the lives of the parents and their children who attend schools that Starting Chance supports. From March until the end of August South Africa was in lock down and the schools were not allowed to open. Parents received guidance and ideas and played and educated their children as best they could, but it was extremely difficult. Many lost their jobs and to survive was the priority.

In late August, the schools started to reopen but many parents were wary, and many didn’t have money to pay school fees so numbers returning to schools were very low. Starting Chance supported the schools by providing PPE kit to make them safe and creating opportunities for the principals and their teachers to receive training on how to manage a COVID-19 compliant school. We have continued to support the teachers to provide parents with ideas and educational materials for their children. But unfortunately we were not allowed to run workshops as no gatherings of over 5 people were allowed.

We now look forward to 2021 and we hope to provide parents with 4 workshops to ensure learning at home continues to grow and thrive. It has never been tougher in our townships, and parents need to be able to hope for a better future for their children. The ability to give their children the starting chance they deserve and desperately need through better parental support is a vital first step.

In the early part of 2020 we learnt that our workshops work best when dividied into 3 key age groups so that parents learn which activities are appropriate and meaningful for their children. It has also never been clearer that parents want to learn more - they are passionate about the future of their children and giving them the start on their educational journey that they deserve. 

Our fieldworkers who facilitated the March 2020 workshop, which happened just before lock down had this to say:                                                

Lebo (0-3 year age group parents)

The workshop was effective and the parents were very engaging and had ideas for making contact with teachers to strengthen the relationship between parents and schools as part of parent’s responsibility towards  their child's schoool. The parents and their children  were excited about the puzzles they received in their resource packs. Parents can't afford to buy puzzles.

 Joyce (4-5 years age group parents)

It was a great turn out. The parents were very happy about the topic, They also show that they are willing to build the relationship between them and the teachers. They want to work together with their children's school so that their children can learn more.  Parents were so grateful to Starting Chance for these workshops that we organized for them.

 Noms (5-6 Year olds age group parents)

The workshop was so interesting, the parents were so engaged. They shared their new experience of attending the training, how they are learning and getting more involved in their children’s education. They had expressed how gratefull they are and how the training has opened their eyes in terms of activities to play at home to develop skills of their children.

 Please help us to make this happen - our future generations need our support!

How to play outside with your children
How to play outside with your children

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Parents at the first workshop
Parents at the first workshop

2020 started with a wonderful parent workshop for the parents of the schools we support. We had over 120 parents and everyone was excited for the year. Wanga Zembe, a qualified social worker, who is an advisor to our Board, joined us for the workshop and parents were delighted to engage with her and get her support. So often in the township environment it is hard to know where to turn for advice and how to get help. The different age groups were catered for and each parent took home a wonderful pack for their children. It was exciting to see how engaged the parents were and Wanga was very surprised and delighted to see that lots of dads attended the workshop too.

Unfortunately in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit us and the government of South Africa called for a state on national disaster and the country went into lockdown. All the educares we support had to close and the children and parents stayed at home. This has resulted in a really difficult time for families in Mfuleni. Many parents lost their income and/or jobs. Significantly, children no longer had access to the daily meal they were getting at school each day, which for many is their main meal. It has been challenging for everyone and at the time of writing this report the schools have still not reopened.

As the reality of the lockdown became clear, Starting Chance chose to be very proactive as there was no financial lifeline for educares in the informal sector and we wanted to maintain the teams we have invested in building so that parents will be able to access quality learning environments after COVID. We have partnered with other non-profits and have provided food vouchers for parents as well as food donations to two of our schools so that they have been able to feed parents, children and the elderly. It has been wonderful to see how our schools have stepped up and helped their community. We also experimented with sending out short videos giving parents ideas of what they could do with their children at home too, but unfortunately most parents cannot afford the data to download the videos.

The time spent in lockdown has reinforced the plight of the poor and the huge gap between different groups of society in South Africa. However, we have been heartened by the amazing support from local and international Friends of Starting Chance and other NPO’s who have been so supportive during this time. There are many stories of good being done as people reach out.

It is now time to get the schools ready for reopening. There are a lot of requirements for the schools to comply with government regulations, and now that people are losing loved ones, people are scared of what may still come as we reach the COVID peak. Principals have no money to buy the necessary equipment, so we are appealing to you to help us make packs available. The parents need to know the schools are safe, that the teachers have the necessary PPE and their children have sufficient hand sanitisers and masks for them to not be at risk. We are focusing on essentials as shown in the picture and the list below – we would be so grateful if you could donate money to help us reach our target of equipping 30 schools. If children parents have confidence in their children being in a safe environment they can restart work, children can begin to learn once more and schools can begin to operate so that principals can retain their staff.

Through this support we hope to emerge with COVID-19 ready schools, teachers, parents and children and in this way continue to give our families a restart on their educational journey.

Join in– help us to flatten the curve of poverty and hopelessness.

Wanga Zembe
Wanga Zembe
Food donations at Blooming Stars
Food donations at Blooming Stars
COVID-19 kit for schools
COVID-19 kit for schools

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Engaged and responsive teachers
Engaged and responsive teachers

In 2020 in South Africa we face a huge ongoing crisis in early childhood education. It is a sad fact that many children living in poor environments have to experience substantial inequality of opportunity in the early years which hinders them on their educational journey. Inequality is more impactful in early learning and in activities that support early cognitive development. Whilst there are ongoing discussions, policy changes and plenty of rhetoric both at government level and in local municipalities, the reality in township schools is perturbing.

Many of the schools we work with have poor learning environments – shacks with bad lighting, little ventilation and virtually no facilities or learning aids. The numbers in the classrooms are huge, the teachers often have very poor education themselves and the parents feel ill-equipped to help their child.

So what is the answer – is it all doom and gloom? Perhaps one of the most overlooked positive factors in township schools is the overwhelming passion and indomitable spirit of both the parents and the teachers. We believe that by offering parent engagement workshops throughout the year, we can harness this passion and despite the crises in early childhood education, we can all change the journey the future generation are embarking on. The key is how we each respond.

In 2020 we are running 4 workshops and in each workshop we will be looking at how we can all be good role models for our children in different areas of early childhood education. Without a doubt, a positive role model can change a child’s life for ever.

So how do we do it? Open discussion and good examples are a great way to start. Our Starting Chance field workers are hoping to set off on a journey with 9 teachers, one from each school in our full programme, to discover together what the key components of a good role model looks like in a township environment. It will, we are sure, be an interesting ride full of surprises. We are excited to have the help of an expert to help us on the way. Wanga Zembe, a specialist social worker will support and aid parents and teachers as they discover themselves and critical components of what makes a good role model.

Through this process we hope to emerge with responsive parents, teachers, supporters and friends who will help to change the current scenario to one that is positive, real, attainable and exciting.

Join us for the ride – help us reach 1000 parents in Mfuleni and change the lives of 1000 children.

Engaged children having fun with water
Engaged children having fun with water
Starting Chance Fieldworkers
Starting Chance Fieldworkers
Responsive parents
Responsive parents

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Lonwabo children having fun
Lonwabo children having fun

2019 has been a year of change for parents and children in the Starting Chance Programme. This year parents from 9 different educares in the Mfuleni township in Cape Town had the opportunity to come to interactive workshops to learn about how they could make a difference to their child's educational journey. We have had more parents than ever before and the 4 workshops we ran in 2019 were well supported and parents were very happy for the opportunity to learn how they could help their child. In poverty stricken environments, it is easy to lose heart. But passion and determination can change mind sets and approaches towards what support means and how to implement it.

In 2020, we are excited to introduce new ideas and upskill parents and teachers across our schools. Our theme for 2020 is "Hope  - our opportunity to change the future of our child." Hope is a rare commodity where there is violence, poor conditions, sadness and fear. But change can happen, one parent at a time. We will be focusing on our Lonwabo Special Care Centre and the building of a new school for 60 children who are differently abled. In township environments, these children are often called "the hidden children". They are  tucked away in shacks as community members don't know how to interact with them. We hope to hold interactive parent workshops with specialists to help the parents learn how to feed their children properly, how to sit them in a way that stimulates muscle development, and then how to play with their children within the bounds of what they can manage. This will be a first for Mfuleni and parents are excited to be included in specially designed sessions for them. It gives them hope that they can support their differently abled child in a new and positive way.

In 2020 we will be developing our parent rep team and upskilling their capabilities so that they will have a meaningful role in planning and executing the workshops. The team consists of 9 teachers from across our 9 schools and they have indicated they are really excited about their chance to reach their parent body to form a partnership between the parents and the teachers for the overral better programme for the children. This gives the teachers hope that they can make a meaningful difference to help the parents develop their children at home and build on the work that is being done at school. 

We will hold 4 workshops through the year - each workshop will focus on a key developmental area for the child at home. We know that to bridge the poverty divide we need our parents to stimulate, support and encourage their child at home and give them a different and better start than many of the parents had in their childhood. We look forward to an exciting year.

If you want to join the hopeful - please support this programme. We have the potential to reach over 1700 parents and their children but we need financial help to do it. Thank you for considering this project and to those who have supported already - thank you! Without you we would not be able to continue.

New Lonwabo school design
New Lonwabo school design
Hope for this child of the future
Hope for this child of the future
Parents and children learning new games
Parents and children learning new games

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Organization Information

Starting Chance Trust

Location: Cape Town - South Africa
Website:
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Project Leader:
Ali Corbett
Cape Town, South Africa
$7,153 raised of $10,000 goal
 
86 donations
$2,847 to go
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