Little by Little
“Please can you help us fundraise for our school?” was the plea of one of the principals at our Professional Development (PDP )workshop on Thursday. “Little by little, we are surviving, but we need help. We need to help the parents at home.”
Lockdowns come and go. Covid comes but certainly hasn’t gone. Parents and their children are struggling for survival. Jobs are hard to come by. There have been many deaths leaving households floundering. Folk are feeling lost and bewildered. “How are our children ever going to catch up?”
Starting Chance had no choice but to continue to provide indirect support for parents and their children through their schools - in truth, the need has never been greater. Until September 2021, large gatherings were not allowed, so parent workshops could not happen throughout 2021. However, via the training and development of the teachers and principals, we have enabled them to reach out to support parents. Little by little, we have resumed training workshops in smaller groups. This has been made possible by the excellent support we have had from you, our friends of Starting Chance, who have supported this project.
In September, we joined the GlobalGiving Little by Little campaign and raised the remaining amount needed for this project. Thank you to everyone who has supported us. Your donations have allowed us to run eight parent workshops over the previous two years. You have touched the educational hearts of 3000 children. You have helped us to give these children educational packs to play with at home. But much more than that – your donation has let teachers, parents and children know that people care! That is priceless.
As we edge towards the end of 2021 and plan for 2022, we are encouraged that our Alumni group of principals and their committee are committed to holding parent workshops that will bring education at home to families. Through you, the educational gap will decrease. We are excited to see what is to come. Our Alumni team has been part of the Starting Chance programme for a minimum of 4 years. Some have been with us for 8. They have taken what they have learned and are determined to be leading lights in their community. Under the watchful eye of our field workers and our Educational Advisor, Belinda, the team is already making a difference to our Mfuleni educational community.
This project has shown that we can reach further into homes to support education, even under the difficult circumstances Covid-19 brings. We are truly grateful to our Friends of Starting Chance worldwide, who have believed in us and have supported this project.
Looking forward, “Education begins at home” is the slogan that will drive the 2022 parent workshops. We hope that conditions will be easier, enabling greater interaction.
Please continue to support our other projects on GlobalGiving. Thank you to you all – together, we can give the children of Mfuleni the Starting Chance they deserve on their educational journey.
Life in poverty-stricken, post-COVID-19 townships is tough. For many, there has been family loss, death, loss of income, loss of jobs and a feeling of no hope. This is undoubtedly the scenario for parents who have children with special needs. Sadly, often these children are seen to be the “hidden or forgotten” children. They receive extraordinarily little support from authorities and are usually not accepted in the township. The parents receive little emotional support and advice on what they can do to give their child a start in life.
Starting Chance is in the process of changing that. Working with Principal Thandeka, who has run the Lonwabo Special Care Centre for 12 years, we are building a new Lonwabo. Lonwabo means joy, and for 40 children, we hope to be providing them and their parents with the joy of new beginnings.
Up until now, Thandeka has been running the centre in the back of her home and has faced numerous challenges, including the threatening possibility of forced closure due to not complying with rigid health regulations.
Due to open on 29th July 2021, the new school will provide three beautiful classrooms, a therapy room, and a specially designed outside play area. To get ready for the move, we have employed a team of specialists to work with Thandeka’s teachers and parents. Part of the process has been to help the parents learn more about how to help their child at home. For most of them, this is the first time anyone has asked them how they are coping. It is the first time they have received advice on how to provide activities at home for their child. It is the first time they have had the opportunity to ask questions and get concrete help.
When the new centre is open, it will provide the opportunity to run parent workshops for these parents, and it will give the children a chance to interact with other children. Read what Thandeka thinks about this new Starting Chance in her life and the life she offers these fantastic children:
The new beginning of having a beautiful big building to run Lonwabo is a blessing; it will take away the stress I get from the different relevant departments, although I think I am doing a good thing by giving the small space I have to cater for these children. I've been working under a lot of pressure because of the small property I'm using. Because I could not comply with rules and regulations because of the infrastructure, it's been challenging.
Children will benefit a lot from the big new building, firstly the playground with suitable resources will encourage children to play, and a lot of development will happen while playing. It will motivate them to come to school as they will have something to look forward to, unlike at the back of my house. Big classrooms will enable different daily activities to happen, which we struggle to do here because of space, so proper learning and development will be achieved.
Every morning they come, they will be excited to see themselves entering a school building with a school atmosphere; their minds will be refreshed and acceptive. Parents will also enjoy having a proper school for their children and will be motivated to work together with us and participate in school activities like fundraising. There is also a room to run the clinic at the Centre, which will benefit parents and the whole community; I am so excited about the building; God is good.
Help us to give these children and their parents the best possible start on their educational journey.
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!
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!
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.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.