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

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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ECD beneficiaries
ECD beneficiaries

Challenges faced in the last 12 months have taught us to be flexible and think out of the box. As a result, we are able to do more for the community. 

Responding to community needs 

Food security has been highlighted as a major issue in South Africa. The communities we work in are no different and as The Topsy Foundation is one of the only non-profit organisations in the area, we continue to supply food parcels to supplement existing vegetables from the food gardens we helped establish in the community. Groceries are bought by Topsy and our staff put them together. We also receive some from one of our partners,  Rise Against Hunger. Providing these food parcels not only means that the community has food security, but have also kept them safer as they were less likely to leave their homes every day, putting themselves in harm's way to put food on the table, limiting the chances of contracting the coronavirus at the peak of the pandemic. This is important because Dipaleseng has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates (31%) in the country, thus more people in the community are at high risk.

One of our beneficiaries who receive the food parcel, Mamokete who is an 80 years old granny and lives in Siyathemba with her four grandchildren and great-grandchild. Mamokete qualified for our Orphaned and Vulnerable Child (OVC) project because she is elderly and heads a household with orphaned children. Topsy has been assisting her with vegetable seeds, rice packs from Rise Against Hunger which she says Topsy is a great help as she has no other source of income either than her old age grant. The rice packs she receives together with vegetables she grows help provide nutritional meals for her family which allows her to save as much as possible. She no longer has to ask for food to feed her grandchildren, now she picks from her garden.

The effects of the pandemic will be with us for a long time to come. As a result, we have incorporated COVID-19 relief into our Holistic Early Childhood Development programme. Increasing our beneficiaries of the Food Security Project, we now feed 7000 individuals, providing families with food parcels, seeds comprising of carrots, onions, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes and beetroot.

The criteria for choosing these families are as follows:

* Child under the age of six (6)

* Orphan

* Single parent

* Foster parent

* Persons living with a disability

* Elderly person

* Or be a Child headed family

The families receiving these food gardens are empowered through training and mentorship provided by a trained and experienced Topsy staff member.

Many children between the ages of 0-6 years old were affected when the lockdown regulations led to the closure of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres to prevent the spread of the virus. The result of this means that the children in our community who are already disadvantage due to socio-economic issues in their communities would fall behind in their physical, emotional, cognitive and social development. Bringing early learning and stimulation to the home was one of the ways to mitigate. We have identified 900 of the most vulnerable children and provided food parcels and ECD resources which include books, Duplo Lego Blocks with a parental guide and a handout with stimulation ideas.

Now that children are attending ECD centres under lockdown level 2, we have found that a high number of them are falling behind. To help children catch up, we have provided ECD Practitioners with an enrichment training course. The course adds to their existing qualification, equipping the practitioner with more tools and activities to make learning more fun and exciting for the children. The children will learn quicker and retain information longer.

Parents are provided with support in the form of small workshops to assist them with the ECD resource kits and general parental stress they may have been experiencing. Other interventions include the provision of hand sanitisers, masks, other essential sanitary products and teaching on the prevention of the coronavirus.

The past year has shown us that together we can do more. That is the spirit that has got us through the challenges we faced.


Mamokete receiving food parcel
Mamokete receiving food parcel
Practitioners attending enrichment training
Practitioners attending enrichment training
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Protective Behaviours Refresher Training
Protective Behaviours Refresher Training

2019/20 financial year was one full of change and progress for The Topsy Foundation, with the appointment of a new director and implementation of a new programme to provide additional support to parents and caregivers in the communities of Dipaleseng. We worked tirelessly to promote our mission of providing disadvantaged rural communities with the support and tools needed to raise happy, healthy, and capable children. We welcomed new staff, increased the impact of our work, and have been building partnerships that will have a lasting and positive impact on our communities.

The essential package of services in the critical early years of a child's development consists of the following pillars:

  • Early learning and stimulation
  • Nutritional support and education
  • Parental and caregiver guidance and skills
  • Health screening and growth monitoring
  • Psycho-social support

Despite the ongoing challenging economic climate, we are incredibly proud to report our achievements during the period, which include:

  • Our Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme continued with its support to 27 centres. Through our holistic activities which include practitioner training, access to our Play and Learn Centre and health screening, we increased support to 1850 – 2000 children per month.
  • Our community workers continued their home support and visited 80 households per month.
  • Our Food Security project continued to steadily reach more beneficiaries reaching a combined total of over 5,900 beneficiaries per month through our individual and community food gardens.
  • The Women's Health Programme continues to be a significant advantage to the communities from Dipaleseng. A constant average of 45 females receives pap smears monthly and all women in need of colposcopic biopsy treated in our centre.
  • All Early Childhood Development programme staff received refresher training from Protective Behaviours south Africa (PBSA). PBSA is a practical, empowering approach to personal safety. It is a process that encourages and develops self-confidence alongside skills that help us avoid being victimised. This is achieved by recognising our personal concept of safety, trusting our intuitive feelings (early warning signs) that tell us when we are feeling unsafe and developing strategies for self-protection. 

An impactful new programme "Caregiver/Parent Capacity Building" was implemented to extend our reach to more families and provide care and stimulation to children who are not attending ECD centres. Unicef designed the programme, and ELRU facilitated the training of Topsy staff. The training took place in September 2019. The training gave our team the skills and knowledge to build on the existing experience and abilities of caregivers whilst covering the following topics:

  • Health and nutrition
  • Play and creativity
  • Physical development
  • Social development, emotional development and confidence building
  • Intellectual and language stimulation
  • Child safety and protection
  • Healthy family relationships
  • Positive discipline
  • Grief and bereavement
  • Me, the parent/caregiver

Topsy employs 29 staff members who are well qualified and experienced to work across the various life-changing programmes we deliver. Most of the staff are recruited from the surrounding communities; therefore, they know the challenges faced by beneficiaries and can respond to community needs sensitively. 

We've been continuously growing and learning through our involvement with growing networks. Our success is the community's success. With the ongoing support of donors, partners, staff, board, and volunteers, we are ready for the challenges and achievements ahead in 2021.

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Community members waiting to receive food parcels
Community members waiting to receive food parcels

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on all of us, more so on the vulnerable. As an NPO organisation based in the Sub-district of Dipaleseng in Mpumalanga, one of the poorest communities in the country, we have the responsibility to respond in assisting our community members, to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.

Due to the high unemployment rate (37.2%), many families in Dipaleseng are living in food poverty. An example of this is Elios Sibeko, a man who lives in Grootvlei extension 1 with his family of 8. He is unemployed and has been depending on food parcels from the government to feed his family, however, these are not enough. This is an all too common reality in Dipaleseng.

Through partnerships with organisations such as the HCI Foundation, Rise Against Hunger and Food Forward supplying food parcels, and the fresh vegetables from the gardens in the community from the Topsy food security programme, approximately 1800 individuals from 450 homes in Siyathemba, Grootvlei and Nthoroane have been provided with food during this time of uncertainty.

Providing these food parcels has not only meant the community has food security but they have also been kept safer as they are less likely to leave their homes every day, putting themselves in harm's way in search of food to put on the table. This reduces their chances of contracting the coronavirus, which is crucial given that Dipaleseng has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates (31%) in the country, therefore more people in the community are high risk.

Donations from The Mergon Foundation and CAF Southern Africa, funded by the Oppenheimer Generations Foundation have helped us fund operation costs during the global pandemic. This has helped as many funding opportunities have been put on hold and our corporate donors have been experiencing financial pressure, leaving us uncertain about what the future holds.

Our staff has been dedicated and shown courage while working during this hard time. We have also seen encouraging support from individuals and will build on this to use platforms such as GlobalGiving, ForGood just to mention a few to fundraise so we can continue supporting the most vulnerable.

Please donate to help provide food relief to some of the world’s most vulnerable people during this challenging time.

Yours Sincerely,

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Last year was a year of change and growth for The Topsy Foundation. The biggest change came with the appointment of Sarah du Toit as Executive Director in August. With this change came a new style of leadership, bringing with it new energy and enthusiasm.

The change led to greater focus on improving our Holistic Early Childhood Development (HECD) Programme, with more work on the ground in the communities, as opposed to strictly centre-based Early Childhood Development. This means we will have a greater understanding of community needs, by acting on what we hear and incorporating feedback into every project. With the learning gleaned from our actions, we will then continually repeat the process, strengthening our impact with every cycle.

In 2019, we visited just over 700 adults and children in their homes each month. This number is set to increase, leading to better outcomes for us and improved service for our community members. Growing the number of household visits grants more adults and children access to our social support services, such as Social Workers/Social Auxiliary Workers and child protection. We are also proud to have 25 ECD practitioners (all women), an increase from previous years, undergoing training through Topsy. This means more ECD centres will be run efficiently, offering children age-appropriate learning.

Another exciting change in our HECD Programme is the addition of the Caregiver/Parental Capacity Building Project. The essential aim of this project is to bring ECD into the home, for those children coming from households unable to get the children to an ECD centre. There are many such homes, as the well-respected South African Early Childhood Review attests to in its 2017 finding. This report showed that 111 000 children in Mpumalanga do not attend an ECD centre, the negative effects of which are long term.

Our project aims to build the capacity of primary caregivers to access the essential elements of an ECD package from conception. This includes good nutrition, primary healthcare, play and learning opportunities, as well as social protection services for children from conception to six years of age. It will be implemented early next month and once up and running, aims to reach 500 beneficiaries. The programme was adapted from the UNICEF Parental Capacity Building programme, with training facilitated by eLRU (Early Learning Resource Unit).

Along with the eLRU training, our staff did Protective Behaviours (PB) training, a child safety concept created and facilitated by Protective Behaviours SA. PB helps children to develop the self-confidence and skills needed to help them avoid victimisation, by teaching them to recognise the concept of personal safety and trust their intuition. Child protection is of great importance to us; as such we will include PB when implementing the Caregiver Capacity Building Project.

One of our proudest accomplishments in 2019 was reaching 6 000 beneficiaries through our Food Security Project, through which we empower communities to grow their own food by providing training and tools for their vegetable gardens. These gardens can now be found in ECD centres and schools, as well as individual homes and larger community gardens.

With all the positive changes, the recent training to improve our programme and the increase in beneficiary numbers, Topsy is leaping into 2020 with greater enthusiasm and knowledge. We now need your donations to help us continue protecting the rights of children during their critical, formative years, ensuring they reach their cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential in rural Dipaleseng, Mpumalanga.

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Organization Information

Topsy Foundation

Location: Johannesburg, Gauteng - South Africa
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @topsytweets
Project Leader:
Sarah du Toit
Johannesburg , Gauteng South Africa
$48,668 raised of $55,000 goal
773 donations
$6,332 to go
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