Topsy Foundation NPC

by Topsy Foundation
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Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC
Topsy Foundation NPC

It has been twenty-two years, and The Topsy Foundation continues to serve and supports vulnerable communities in Dipaleseng and eMbalenhle, a peri-urban settlement/township. The two communities face similar socio-economic challenges and the services provided by Topsy’s provide five pillars of support, particularly for children and women. 

The communities we work in can typically face the following challenges:

  • High levels of unemployment               
  • Low average educational and skills levels 
  • The majority of homes are single female/child/elderly headed 
  • Low average income
  • High levels of poverty,
  • Poor service delivery lack of resources

Impact of nutrition support in vulnerable communities 

According to Stats SA, Mpumalanga is amongst the three provinces with the highest percentage of households with severely inadequate access to nutritional food at 12.3%. This is almost twice the national average. In both the communities we work in, many of the households are single-female-headed with little to no income. While many vulnerable households are receiving child/pension/disability grants, this is usually not enough to meet the basic needs of families in which three or more individuals and extended families in one household are common. The continued rise of food costs and a combination of low to no income means that many families eat what they can afford, which usually does not meet the minimum nutritional requirements. The most affected are children, with 16.7% of children aged five years and younger living in food poverty. Without adequate nutrition, children are not able to grow and reach their developmental milestones and are more susceptible to malnutrition, stunting and diminished health. 

 An integral component of Topsy’s strategy to strengthen families and communities is to enable and assist communities served to establish, grow and maintain vegetable gardens as a supplemental nutritional source. One person from 829 households has been taught to start and maintain a vegetable garden.  They are supplied with seeds and basic gardening tools including a garden hose.  

Provided certain criteria are met (including dedicated gardeners and sufficient land), food gardens are established in homes, ECD centres, and primary and high schools and must distribute excess produce back into the community at no cost. 

 Skill gained include: 

  • Transplanting 
  • Growing seedlings to sustain the garden at a manageable cost
  • Using greywater 

 

The benefits of establishing vegetable gardens

The worsening high unemployment rate is leaving many families living in food insecurity. Topsy, identifies at-risk families, recruits them into the project and assists them to establish vegetable gardens to improve the health and wellness of the children and their families. Over ten thousand individuals benefit from the vegetable gardens in individual homes, communal gardens and primary schools. 

The Nutritional Support Project:

  • Teach beneficiaries how to establish and maintain home gardens and encourage the production and consumption of vegetables
  • Teach practical nutrition education to promote healthy diets and lifestyles
  • Provide beneficiaries with a tool for survival at times of food shortages
  • Familiarise beneficiaries with methods of sustainable production of food that applies to their homestead and is important for household food     security
  • Promote income-generation opportunities

We also support 112 families identified as in need with food parcels and meal packs containing all the vitamins and minerals required for a balanced meal, along with sanitary products for 373 people. The vegetable gardens have been a source of joy and a purpose to those working in their gardens. They have beautified the communities and enabled some beneficiaries to have a source of income by selling surplus vegetables.

 

Parental Support

Parental support is provided to parents, siblings or grandparents who are the primary caregivers of babies and children up to the age of five. Building on the experience, knowledge and skills of these caregivers the sessions introduce ideas that may be new to some caregivers and it will also provide opportunities to discuss these.

From October to December, we had 8 sessions in Dipaleseng and eMbalenhle with 73 participants.  The sessions are always a success and parents appreciate being able to communicate freely about the challenges they experience. Interactive exercises help parents see a new perspective and learn new skills learned to help them navigate parenting.

 

Stories of Impact

Rise Against Hunger provides meal packs which are distributed to ECD centres. Meal packs contain vitamins and minerals needed for children. Nutrition is important for a child's development at this stage of development. One of the centres we work with is Tswelopele DCC.

“We have 58 children who get two meals a day. The children are given food from Rise Against Hunger twice a week and they enjoy it. We are also able to save money because the food only needs hot water. We are not buying gas or rice like we used to. We are so thankful for the help from Topsy.  The children are also served veggies from the garden which Topsy assisted the centre to establish.”

Mrs Mphuthi, Principal at Tswelopele DCC

 

UPD

“Miss Topsy” is a 56-year-old woman who lives in Ext 5 in Siyathemba Balfour and was referred to Topsy from the local clinic in Siyathemba. Previous visits to our Health Centre have taught her the importance of doing her pap smear every year. The pap smear results from the clinic recommended that she go for a colposcopy due to high-grade squamous lesions that were picked up.  

We provided her with transport from the clinic to our Health Centre in Grootvlei.  The staff from Topsy welcomed all 15 of the Colpo patients with a cup of tea and something to eat. They were nervous but the staff reassure them that they have nothing to fear or be nervous about, and were seen by Dr Oosthuizen.

Other medical complaints she had included backache but she was struggling to get treatment at the local clinic.  We received our Donation from UPD and were able to give her an anti-inflammatory gel and capsules. “Miss Topsy” was very grateful to receive a month’s supply of medication and vitamins. This made me appreciate UPD and how their donations help us provide quality care,

“Miss Topsy” is a single parent and has 2 children and 2 grandchildren, all living with her. She was very grateful for the service Topsy provided for her over the years. Miss Topsy told the staff that she feels like she came home, every time she visits our facility.

Hannetjie van Jaarsveld, Pharmacy Assistant

 

Thank You!

“Giving children a healthy start in life no matter where they are born or the circumstances of their birth is the moral obligation of everyone”  -Nelson Mandela 

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Children from one of the ECD centres we work with
Children from one of the ECD centres we work with

The early stages of a child’s life are important as they lay a foundation for the rest of their lives. Providing access to quality early childhood development interventions is the best way for the most vulnerable children to be able to reach their full potential.  Through our Early Childhood Development Programme, 1500 children receive essential services from the 24 ECD and stimulation centre partners we work with. The centres are visited regularly to monitor them. When the children come to our Play and Learn Centre they receive primary health care in the form of health screenings, growth monitoring, and vision and hearing test conducted by our nurses.

Nutrition is also necessary for the early stages of development; no child can learn and fully develop on an empty stomach. All centres working with Topsy must have a vegetable garden. A partnership with Head Start Kids, a local NGO whose mission is to eradicate child malnutrition is helping us improve nutrition. The partnership also included a read donation for our ECD centre partners

HSK monitors the children that are part of the project to show that their nutrition improves those who had malnutrition are better. We also work with Rise Against Hunger which provides our ECD centre partners with meal packs. The pack contains all the nutrients required in one serving.

 

                                             ECD Practitioner Training

Training for practitioners is equally important for children to receive age-appropriate learning. In early June of 2022, thirty-two Practitioners participated in a three-day training session focusing on ELDA (early learning and development areas) to help them organise the activities with babies, toddlers and young children. The practitioners come from ten centres, mostly from the Govan Mbeki municipality.

This training is a way for us to introduce our ECD services to this community. It has also helped us build a relationship with Sasol Foundation which funds ECD projects. We are cultivating this relationship to translate into a donation for ECD in the Dipaleseng and Govan Mbeki communities.

             

                                              Container Classrooms

Many of the centres we work with do not have adequate facilities, making it dangerous for the children and constant stress for the practitioners. Through our partnership with the centres, we have been able to assist these centres to apply for container infrastructure from Breadline Africa. Centres that are assisted must be registered with the Department of Social Development.

The containers are fully equipped with classrooms, toilets and a kitchen. Breadlines Africa requires that centres must own the land they are on. One of the centres that received containers that recently received containers is Tholulwazi Day Care Centre.

 

                                            Monitoring and Evaluation

 Monitoring and Evaluation is helps us identify the most valuable and efficient use of our resources. In 2021 we had an M&E specialist come and evaluate our process and help us improve. Ntjidzi Dube, an M&E specialist worked with Topsy to design a Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting Plan (MERP) with the following objectives in mind:

  • For accountability to caregivers, community, fundamentals and other stakeholders
  • to gather quality data for guiding decision-making for the project around targets, strategies, spending, administration etc.
  • to determine what resources are required for achieving results
  • to measure progress in the implementation of planned activities and use of funds
  • Document lessons learnt

 We have started using Soweto Care System (SCS), a monitoring software, which produces correct, complete, reliable and timely information on the programme activities. Using SCS, information on beneficiaries, employees, beneficiary interventions and projects are captured, updated and retrieved in great detail. From these files, we can easily generate comprehensive reports for management and donors.

                                             ********************************** 

         Feedback from a parent who was assisted by a Topsy nurse

Dear Sr Joan, Topsy Foundation Staff and Donators I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy Tsholo on 19 September 2019. But he was born with a genetic skin disease; Epidermolysis Bullosa which left us heartbroken and made his management as a baby very complicated. About 60% of his body had no skin, and needed dressing, wound care and pain management every 4 hours.

The costs for pain medication, dressing material, gloves and ointments were so high, and we did not know how we are going to care for him. But great thanks to Sr Joan who support us with all we need to improve his quality of life and relief our need. Unfortunately, baby Tsholo gained his angel wings on 5 December 2019.

Thanks for all the support and Sr Joan and Topsy.  

Zandi 

                                                    Thank You 

Thank you for continuing to support The Topsy Foundation! Without our donors, we will not be able to reach communities that need our services. 

Practitioner handing out bread
Practitioner handing out bread
ECD Practitioner Training in Secunda
ECD Practitioner Training in Secunda
Breadline classroom containers
Breadline classroom containers
Baby Tsholo
Baby Tsholo
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Children from one of the communities we work in
Children from one of the communities we work in

Food Security and Nutrition 

The high levels of food insecurity result in many families eating what they can, which usually does not meet the nutrient requirements for a balanced meal, leading to high numbers of malnutrition and stunting in children in their developmental years.

To ensure children in our programme are receiving nutritious meals, our response is to provide our ECD centres partners and beneficiaries in our OVC (Orphaned and Vulnerable Child) project with nutritious meal packs. We were fortunate to get a donation from Ogilvy South Africa for 5000 meal packs from Rise Against Hunger, an international non-profit organisation working to alleviate hunger in the world. The meal packs comprise fortified rice, soya for protein and a vitamin sachet resulting in a complete and nutritious meal. Meal packs were packed by Ogilvy staff members.

We believe that a hand up is a better option than a handout, that is why we pride ourselves on empowering beneficiaries by teaching them to establish food gardens. This is a lifelong skill that is beneficial because beneficiaries can always provide for themselves, with a sustained source of nutritious food for free. With the high unemployment rate in the communities, we work with, many people have been left feeling dejected.

The vegetable gardens have brought joy and a sense of purpose to those working in their gardens. They have beautified the communities and enabled some beneficiaries to have a source of income by selling surplus vegetables.

Progress in Embalenhle Community 

The first phase of the expansion has included Psychosocial Support, Food Security and Nutrition. We have identified 1703 households with orphaned and vulnerable children, or come from single parents, child-headed or elderly headed homes. We provide the families with food parcels for three months and assistance to establish food gardens with tools, seeds, training, and mentoring through our Food Security and Nutrition Project. Other gardens are in schools, Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and open spaces in the communities. We have empowered communities in EMbalenhleto to establish over 551 gardens, providing food security and nutrition for 10,602 individuals.

We have found that the stories of those who receive our services and support are the best way to show the work we do. Below are just some of these stories and feedback from our beneficiaries.

Play to Learn and Educational Support

Children learn in different ways, this does not only happen in the classroom but also at home, the ‘classroom-home’ relationship is essential for the growing child to develop skills.  Play is one of the important activities for a child to do, it helps nurture their imagination and give the child a sense of adventure. This is not only beneficial to the child alone but to the family unit as it encourages open communication between parent and child thus building a strong family bond.

 Care for Education six brick Lego blocks were distributed to the communities in the Govan Mbeki and Dipaleseng Municipality for parents to use at home with their children. A quick demonstration was made to the parents on how to utilize the easy guide booklet and the activities they can do at home and how it will assist their children.  Each child received 3 packs of Lego toys and a booklet. Children will develop essential skills from these educational packs such as sequencing, comprehension, colour sorting, hand-eye coordination. Parents will also get a chance to spend quality time with their children working as a team in a fun way.

Strong communities are built by strengthening the family structure and nurturing children from birth. Through playing as they grow, they will learn problem-solving skills, working with others and sharing that will help them at school and in the future. This will therefore help raise happy and confident children who will in future grow up to be well-rounded adults. With your continued support and donations, we will be able to continue to make a life-changing impact in the communities we work in.  

One of the communities we work in
One of the communities we work in
Vegetable garden at a ECD centre we work with
Vegetable garden at a ECD centre we work with
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Emma and her children outside Dpt of Home Affairs
Emma and her children outside Dpt of Home Affairs

Our Early Childhood Programme provides rural communities with the support and tools needed to raise happy, healthy and capable children. We have chosen a holistic approach to our support to ensure that children thrive and develop in the best possible environment. 

The Topsy Foundation’s Early Childhood Development Programme supplies:

1. Educational support and stimulation for early learning through close work with Early Childhood Development Centres within the community and our Play and Learn Centre situated in Grootvlei 

2. Primary level child health through medical support comprising health development screenings, provision of treatment, the dispensation of basic medicines, and referral for specialised attention 

3. Nutritional support through the establishment of food gardens and food donations 

4. Support for primary caregivers through home visits, counselling and parental skills training 

5. Social and income support through assistance with birth registration, accessing of child support grants and child protection

The programme has proven vital in the past eighteen months, as it responds to the needs of those who have been left vulnerable. We have increased the number of individuals benefiting from our programme and now provide support for over fourteen thousand adults and children.

The heart-warming stories and feedback we receive encourage us to keep working hard. These are just some of them: 

                        Stories and Feedback from The Communities

 Psycho-social Support 

We recently assisted two families to get birth certificates for their children. Without birth certificates, children are not able to access essential services like child grants which can bring a source of income to families with no income, healthcare and education. 

Emma is a 27-year-old unemployed mother of four small children. She was referred to Topsy because she did not have an Identity Document (ID) which meant that her children did not have birth certificates. We assisted her to apply for an ID through the Department of Home Affairs. Whilst she waited for her ID, she was referred to the Department of Social Development to apply for a temporary grant for her 3 children which she received for a period of three months. Since she is unemployed, she also received emergency food parcels from Topsy. 

After waiting for six months, the Department of Home affairs notified her that her application was successful. 

Matediso is a mother to a 16-year-old teenager. Topsy assisted her to get a birth certificate for her son whom she gave birth to at home, assisted by her grandmother. Sadly, her Grandmother passed on before she could apply for her son’s birth certificate. A witness is needed at Home affairs especially in a case of home birth, the only person remaining who witnessed the birth was her cousin. Her son’s birth certificate application was successful six months after being interviewed.  

These interviews were conducted at Home Affairs and serve to authenticate the information given on the application form of the candidate and to establish the reason why they applied late for the birth certificate. Both mothers were assisted by our Social Auxiliary Workers with the applications and transported by Topsy to and from the Department of Home Affairs in Nigel and Department Social Development in Springs which are between 50-70 km away to submit application forms, for the interviews and to pick up the birth certificates and ID. Many do not have the money to travel such a distance and are therefore not able to get access to essential services. 

We continue to monitor the family closely through home visits done regularly by the field workers, providing support to the family and particularly the children. 

                                                  ***************

 Play to Learn and Educational Support 

Children learn in different ways, it does not only happen in the classroom but also at home, the “classroom home” relationship is essential for the growing child to develop certain skills. Play is one of the most important activities for a child, it helps nurture their imagination and give the child a sense of adventure. This is not only beneficial to the child but to the family unit as well, as it encourages open communication between parent and child thus building a strong family bond. 

Care for Education Six Bricks Duplo sets were distributed to the communities in the Govan Mbeki and Dipaleseng Municipality for parents to use at home with their children. A demonstration was made to the parents on how to utilise the Parental Guide, the activities they can do at home and how it will assist their children. Each child received two packs of Lego/Duplo and a booklet. Children will develop essential skills from these educational packs such as sequencing, comprehension, colour sorting, hand-eye coordination. Parents will also get a chance to spend quality time with their children working as a team in a fun way.

Strong communities are built by strengthening the family structure and nurturing children from birth. Through play, they will learn problem-solving skills, working with others and sharing, which will help them at school and in the future, therefore, helping to raise happy, confident children who will in future grow up to be well-rounded adults. 

Ntomfuthi is a member of staff at Zenzele Daycare Centre and has “Topsy has helped us a lot since we have partnered with them. We have received food parcels so that we can feed the children every day. We also received a container classroom through the assistance of Topsy, which allowed us to increase the number of children attending our centre. Before we go the donation, it was our dream to expand our centre, but we could not afford it. The classroom containers are a nice place for the children to learn in. It is difficult for us to secure funds being in a rural area that is why we are so thankful for Topsy and appreciate all they do for us.”

                                                       ***************

Food Security

Billy is a 38 years old male who lives alone in an informal settlement in Embalenhle. He is actively seeking employment and his only means of income is a temporary social grant. Before joining our Food Security and Nutrition Project, he already had a vegetable garden but could not expand it because he did not have the money for seeds and fertilizer.  

His garden has been described, by one of the Community Field Workers as neat and beautifully kept, it was clear from the beginning that Billy had a passion for gardening. He would buy seeds and fertilizer with the little money he made from doing odd jobs cleaning people’s yards. Being part of this project means he receives seeds, netting to secure his garden and fertilizer. As he is unemployed, he qualified to receive emergency food parcels and “Rise Against Hunger” rice packs for a period of three months to help him get on his feet.

Topsy community workers continue to do monthly visits to his home to check his progress and how he continues to maintain his garden. He receives advice from our Head Gardner to make sure that his garden produces quality crops he can sell and eat. 

 Martha (62) lives in Grootvlei with her husband and grandchildren, both receiving pension grants. Martha loves to garden, spending a lot of time on her vegetable garden and flowers in her yard. She is part of the Food Security and Nutrition Project and receives seeds, fertiliser, gardening tools and training on how to expand her existing vegetable garden from Topsy.  

“Before knowing of Topsy, I used to buy spinach and tomatoes seed only because that’s all I could afford. But now I receive different seeds from Topsy and my garden is big enough to feed my family. I don’t have to struggle to feed my grandchildren because there are fresh vegetables in my yard. I also make a little bit of money by selling some of the vegetables, and I can buy bread and other things for the house. 

Sibusiso (36) started a vegetable garden through Topsy as a distraction to avoid getting involved with bad crowds and focus on being positive while unemployed. He has two children and is one of the many unemployed people in Dipaleseng. He depends on his income on the vegetable garden and odd jobs he finds around the community like doing gardens, building shacks and general handyman jobs.

He chose to start a vegetable garden because of his love of gardening which he got from his parents. He says, "My mother and father were the ones who taught us how to garden. I received seeds from Topsy which has been a huge benefit for me since I am unemployed, like many young people in my community. Trying to earn a living is hard these days. The gardening helps ease the stress of poverty because each day I receive something to eat that is free and healthy from my garden."

We are so proud that we can empower our communities, especially during this hard period. There is still so much to do, and we thank our donors for supporting us.   

Children playing with Dulpo sets
Children playing with Dulpo sets
Ntomfuthi from Zenzele Daycare Centre
Ntomfuthi from Zenzele Daycare Centre
Martha working in her garden
Martha working in her garden
Sibusiso in his garden
Sibusiso in his garden
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In 2019, the World Bank recognised that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. This is because the country’s economy does not equally benefit all citizens. The devastating effects of this include high numbers of unemployment and poverty, which has led to the food insecurity crisis we are experiencing. From January - March 2021 11.2 million South Africans did not meet the minimum food requirements or have large food gaps leading to malnutrition*. This leads to many health problems malnutrition and obesity being the standout. The pandemic has worsened this problem.

 In 2020, we had set ourselves the goal to increase the number of beneficiaries of our Food Security and Nutrition Project so that we can meet the dire need for food, which had been intensified by COVID.

 Currently, we reach over 14 000 individuals, empowering them with skills and tools to have a sustainable source of nutritious food in the form of vegetable gardens and teaching them the importance of a healthy lifestyle. This is a big growth for the project which wouldn't have been possible without the support from our donors.

We also provide food parcels that contain non-perishable food to help the family get by in the three months it takes for the garden to grow. Beneficiaries are chosen based on the following criteria: a household that has children and has no income; that is child-headed; single female and/or elderly headed household.

These are the stories of the beneficiaries empowered by Topsy through our Food Security and Nutrition Project. 

                                 Finding her purpose through gardening

My name is Emanel, I am 70 years old and live with my daughter, son and three minor grandchildren. We live in a four-roomed RDP house in Nthoroane and I am one of the recent beneficiaries of Topsy’s Food Security and Nutrition Project. I was selected by Topsy’s Community Care Workers who saw my passion for gardening. They explained in detail what their jobs are and what they do in the community. I was happy about being part of the project and was getting seeds for my garden. The fact that I could keep the vegetables and sell surplus also appealed to me. The garden has been a huge help for me as a grandmother and my family at large. It is even more difficult now to get any job, especially at my age. There aren’t many employment opportunities, even for our children. The only income we get is my old age grant which is not enough to support me and my family. At times you feel like you are failing your children by not being able to provide basic things such as food and clothes.

Gardening gives me a sense of purpose; I can wake up every day and feel like my life is worth living as I have something to do daily. My grandchildren have joined me in taking care of my garden. It is something that I hope they will continue to do even when I am not around. A garden is a great tool to use to teach young ones to take care of themselves, their surroundings, and the environment as a whole. I truly hope that I will continue to learn new things and ways on how to maintain my garden so that it can continue to feed my family.

                                   Providing a solution for a father

I am Mr Sibilwane, I am a father who has been benefitting from the wonderful work The Topsy Foundation does in Slovo, Balfour. Since I found this place for my family, I started with the gardening project and it has been many years now. I have been able to expand it, this is what Topsy taught me in the outreach and education program. They taught me how to maintain this garden and now I can put food on the table for my family. I don't work so this is the only way I can do that. I am so grateful for Topsy. The grants that we get are not enough to provide for my family. Being part of the Topsy Project has changed my life and my family's life altogether to this day. I get to sell veggies to my fellow community members and also help those who can't buy in my neighbourhood by giving them spinach. Topsy has brought me food parcels when my garden was still growing. I like that they come now and then to check on how we are

Many more people need our assistance. We need more financial support to be able to help as the situation continues to worsen.

Enamel tending to her garden
Enamel tending to her garden
Mr Sibilwane tending to his garden
Mr Sibilwane tending to his garden

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Organization Information

Topsy Foundation

Location: Johannesburg, Gauteng - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @topsytweets
Project Leader:
Sarah du Toit
Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa
$47,759 raised of $55,000 goal
 
756 donations
$7,241 to go
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