2014 has been a very busy and extremely rewarding year for all at FLP. Our work has expanded to include 5 new schools in our Nal’ibali Reading Clubs, additional bereavement counselling groups in Stepmore and Lotheni, new drama groups in Bomvini and Mkhohlwa, Peace Clubs in all of our child to child groups, new Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting material developed and piloted in the FLP adult groups, new Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting groups trained in the Underberg and Himeville low-income housing developments, and the very exciting development and writing of traditional African Stories and re-versioning of existing stories, in the Mpumlwane and Ndodeni groups, as part of the African Storybook Project pilot programme. We were happy to receive a wonderful donation of 3244 Zulu books from New Readers Publishers in response to a proposal mailed to them. Rotary SA has made a wonderful contribution of Wonderbags to all of the staff and group members of FLP. These are already being put to good use, with some of the group members recording a 40% drop in their fuel usage when they cook.
Below is a list of the other highlights:
1. Dlalanathi Bereavement Groups: Through the Support of the Solon Foundation and Children’s Chance for Life, Xolani Mofokeng, Nompumelelo Mbokazi and Zinhle Mbanjwa continue to work with numerous groups of 8 children at a time, over an 8 week period. The children, all identified by the schools and communities, are taken through a counselling programme that helps them process their loss. Use is made of various techniques such as role play, puppets, narratives, drama, writing activities such as the “Book of Loss” and the collection of mementos for a memory box. Often additional counselling is required and then Xolani and his crew counsel individuals, for as long as necessary, in order to assist them to overcome their emotional difficulties. What is astounding is that the number of children affected by loss, through death of loved ones, family members, siblings and parents, rape and abuse, continue to overwhelm us. We work according to a triage system where the neediest, according to school and community, are counselled first. We are, unfortunately, unable to meet all of the needs simultaneously due to the sheer volume of children requiring intervention. The families, schools and communities continue to provide us with favourable feedback regarding the intervention with comments such as, “the teachers told me that she has changed in school work and she is much better than before” the children generally start off by not “wanting to talk about their loss and we try by all means to gain their trust because it was like they don’t trust anyone” and by the end of the programme, “they become strong enough to talk freely about their problems.”
2. African Storybook Project: Zimbili Dlamini, as coordinator for this pilot programme, has worked tirelessly to collect traditional folk tales and traditional stories from her group members. She has, along with Sheila Drew and Jill Frow, conducted various storytelling and story writing workshops for the 2 FLP Adult Groups she facilitates. We are happy to announce that Zimbili and her groups have met all programme deadlines and produced stories of a high standard. We are excited about the possibilities that this programme has for getting traditional stories into print poor environments.
3. Children’s Chance for Life: In addition to the other projects CCFL supports, they continue to provide invaluable support to rural farm schools. Their “Whole School Programme” has, in addition to upgrading School facilities in Farm Schools, seen qualifying candidates receive support to attend schools and colleges. There are currently FET College students and University students on the programme. One student, Phumla Ngcobo, is in her third year at Rhodes, studying Journalism. Lungisani Zondi, one of the Senior School students that has been on bursary since Grade R, has recently been selected to attend the Maritime Academy in Cape Town, on a full scholarship.
4. Generation Joy Foundation USA: We continue to work very closely with Generation Joy in their drives to collect educational supplies for the schools we work in, the students we support and the Adult Groups. After their visit to FLP in July 2014, they are working tirelessly to acquire sets of ECD Educational items for all of the Home Visitors at FLP and in the Community Work Programme, Government Partnership we provide support for. Generation Joy has engaged a preschool and is encouraging their children and parents to collect all of the items required for the Home Visitors bags which will ensure an enriched educational experience for all homes visited. They are also collecting Educational toys for our libraries, which may be borrowed by the Home Visitors to assist them when they visit homes with 0-6 year olds residing in them. In addition, they have provided bursaries to vulnerable orphans, in order for them to be able to attend school. I have been invited to visit them next year in order to speak at various schools and colleges about the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme and the partnership that we are currently engaged in with Government and the Community Work Programme.
5. Nal’ibali: The Nal’ibali Reading Clubs are vibrant groups of children that have such a hunger for reading. I love visiting the groups in the schools that we partner with, in order to watch the FLP Facilitators enthral the youngsters with their storytelling expertise. The Facilitators use a variety of methods to bring to life the various stories that they tell. I have seen puppet shows, dramatizations and role play where groups of children in the audience sit, enthralled to the point where one could hear a pin drop! The new groups that FLP has started continue to develop and grow more and more enthusiastic about reading, with each weekly Nal’ibali Reading Club meeting.
6. The new FLP Kwabhidla Community Library: The members of the Ingonyama Trust that oversee the property on which the new FLP Library is to be built have given us full approval to go ahead. I recently met with a delegation of Kwabhidla community members and the Ingonyama Trust Surveyors in order peg out the boundaries for the Library grounds. We are extremely grateful to the Daitz Foundation and Project Build for their support in this initiative. We are optimistic that construction of FLP’s newest Community Library will begin in 2015.
7. Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting: The programme continues to run very successfully in all of the FLP groups, with 2 additional areas being included in 2014. Zimbili Dlamini and Florence Molefe have, in 2014, trained a group of new Home Visitors from the Underberg and Himeville area in the KwaSani Municipality. The group has been actively involved in the 2 “townships” visiting families of neighbours and others that have children of 0-6 years old residing in them. The programme has been a success and new insights have been learned about how “urban”, township groups differ from the deep rural groups where FLP has conducted Home Visits since the Project’s inception.
Xolani Mofokeng and Jacqueline Horn continue to conduct training for all of the FLP Facilitators in the new Khulisa Manual that Snoeks and Jacqueline co-wrote. It has been very encouraging to see the Home Visitors embracing this new emotional intelligence and psycho-social material that we have developed.
A recent evaluation of the Programme, conducted by Jill Frow, highlighted the success of the initiative. Altogether 53 adults and 81 children participated. The adults comprised both grandmothers and young mothers – the primary carers in each household. The programme took the form of activities, games and refreshments, all of which promoted interaction and facilitated evaluative feedback from the participants. The Purpose of the evaluation was both research for the FLP team and learning through play, for the participants:
- To assess what the carers had learned from the Khulisa Abantwana programme which had brought about change in their caring behaviour;
- To find out what else the householders would like to learn about;
- To find out if carers could think about taking initiative by arranging events for their toddlers without FLP.
What emerged is that the Khulisa Abantwana programme is bringing about change at many levels. This study showed that the carers have understood and are practising parenting concepts, ranging from healthy diet and immunization to the importance of spending quality time with their toddlers, using every opportunity to communicate words and skills. The study also paints a picture for us, of young children who were vulnerable, but whose ‘buckets are now being filled’.
8. Libraries: The libraries and their resources continue to be well cared for, the facilities are open and welcoming to the communities they serve. Now that Repairs and upgrades have been done at Stepmore and Lotheni Libraries, everyone feels even more proud of this communal facility. Children continue to visit the library where our Library Assistants and Facilitators encourage them to divide their time outdoors on the jungle gyms and indoors listening engaging in the planned activities such as reading and listening to stories, playing games and building puzzles.
9. School Support Programme: Nompies Mbokazi and Zinhle Mbanjwa provide much support to the children in the respective Schools where they are working. Nompies, a Grade 1 Educator at Goxhill farm School bases all of her “curricular CAPS work” upon the emphasis of developing sound reading skills. The new playground equipment we built is complete. The Generation Joy Foundation kindly supported the construction of the playground.
Zinhle continues to work in the Underberg School Mastery Unit, where she supports reading and writing with additional language learners. In addition, she provides Psycho Social Support for students in the Hostel where she resides and ensures that they receive all of the support necessary to keep them healthy and happy.
10. Drama: Xolani Mofokeng currently runs 2 drama groups in Underberg and Himeville Low Income housing developments, and 2 drama groups in Bomvini and Mkhohlwa and . The 70+ preteen and teens in these groups meet twice weekly and develop and perform skits and dramas written and produced by themselves, reflecting the issues that they face in the community, school and home. The groups have performed at community events as well as at local schools when invited to do so. The group from Bomvini raised money and travelled to Underberg to meet their FLP Drama fellow groups and put on a full Saturday of Dramas. It was a wonderful event with much being learnt in the process. The same group is competing in an Umzimkulu Municipal community Drama competition this month.
11. Soccer Clubs: Our boys and girls teen soccer clubs have, once again, had a successful year with many of them competing in finals in the local community, as well as at inter-municipality tournaments. The 79 boys and girls train twice weekly and play matches on weekends.
12. Asifunde Sonke Teacher’s Training Centre: We have come to the end of a very busy but productive year for both Saturday and Wednesday groups. For the Saturday group the finish line is in sight. These 16 students have now completed 10 of 12 Unit Standards. As stated in previous Reports, these Unit Standards include 8 Care Components, 4 Elective Components and, for students without a Matric Certificate, 3 fundamental Unit Standards are added. Out of the class of 16 Saturday students, only five will have to complete these fundamental Unit Standards: Mathematical Literacy and Communication 1 and 2.
We plan to complete the Programme within the 2-year period as stated at registration.
The Wednesday Group of 21 will complete the fourth Care Unit Standard by the close of the year.
We enjoyed a Verification Visit by the Directors of the Teachers’ Training Centre (our service providers), Dr. Jennifer Calvert and Sandy Bauermeister, in August, who proclaimed themselves ‘bowled over’ by what they saw during their visit, being impressed with the standard of both Groups. The Portfolios of Evidence (POEs) have been assessed by the Service Provider in the work completed thus far and all students have been declared competent in the completed Unit Standards’ Assignments. The POEs are beautifully presented, evidence of the students’ hard work and motivation.
Our 37 students represent 35 schools in an area embracing Mqatsheni, Broteni, Stepmore, Himeville, Goxhill, Underberg and Creighton crèches. Once, these were merely “drop-off” points for toddlers and Grade R learners. Asifunde Sonke is making a difference in their Early Childhood Education and Development.
An independent on-site Workplace Assessment was conducted by Felicity in all schools represented on our Programme. Each student was assessed against criteria set by the TLC on their performance in the classroom, during a lesson presentation. The criteria included:
- Lesson plan preparation
- Achievement of outcomes;
- Presentation of the lesson;
- Resources used in the presentation;
- Interaction with the class;
- Strategies used in managing the learners during the lesson.
The students all achieved well during the assessment and were declared competent in their Workshop Assessment. This evidence is included in their POEs for final verification by SAQA, SETA and E.T.Diploma.
The School in a Box concept continues to make a difference in the standards of teaching in the crèches which qualified for this resource.
A Level 5 Course will commence in 2015, after all 16 Saturday students have completed and graduated with their Level 4 qualification. We also plan to offer another Level 4 Class next year, as the need arises. This will depend on funding.
I continue to enjoy being a part of this wonderful opportunity of making a difference in Early Childhood Development
“A good head and a good heart are a formidable combination, but add to that a literate tongue and you have something very special.” Nelson Mandela
13. Key-Hole Gardens: The FLP group’s 15 Demonstration Gardens are all greened up again. The gardens were very successful last year. Florence Molefe, one of our coordinators, oversees this project and procures the array of seedlings the gardens require in order to deliver a variety of nutrients necessary for healthy growth of children. The groups do all of the preparation of their gardens and collect manure and compost that is dug in, in anticipation of the seedlings. The vegetables that are grown are then shared equally amongst all that contribute to the garden in some way.
14. Transactional Analysis Coordinators Training: Karen Pratt, an international Trainer, with vast experience in NGO’s, conducted a certified training course for all of the FLP Coordinators. Transactional Analysis is a set of concepts that systematically facilitate personal growth and change. It develops improved communication in organisations, where staff are encouraged and trained, to communicate more freely across all levels of management. This type of communication fosters a move away from a hierarchical type of management to more of a collaborative style. Transactional Analysis uses an easily accessible language to describe and understand experience and behaviour.
The responses from the coordinators is that they felt extremely liberated as a result of their personal growth in the process. A synopsis of some of their summations at the conclusion of the training:
“I have grown so much and know myself better”
“I now know how to communicate with the Facilitators better”
“My egogram helps me to understand myself”
“I will complete an egogram with all of the staff so that they can understand themselves better”
“This has helped me grow so much”
“I will be able to solve problems much better now, with the tools we have been provided.”
In closing, I would like to thank all of the supporters and friends that have taken an interest in our unique and extraordinary project. The year that I have spent at the helm of FLP, has been made so rewarding for myself and my fellow workers. May you have a blessed Festive season.