Director’s Quarterly Report

Much has happened at FLP since the last report from my desk.  It continues to inspire me and the entire FLP Team to see the commitment to Literacy from our rural communities.  The Families continue to share information and skills that they have gained in our FLP Group Sessions with their neighbours, thereby inspiring their surrounding Community Members to visit our Libraries and encourage their children to attend Home Visiting Sessions and join our Book Clubs.

Below is a list of some of the highlights:

  1. Asessment of the Philangethemba Molweni Community –Florence Molefe and Jill Frow recently assessed the 12 Molweni Community ladies and Community Members that we have been training and supporting in the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme. The Assessment “Workshops” were very well supported.

The findings of this very successful intervention are being written up and will be made available on our website.

It has been encouraging to see how the Molweni Community has grasped the Khulisa model and made it their own by adapting it to their unique circumstances, but still ensuring that the integrity of the evidence-based intervention remains.

  1. Internship Programme– The FLP Internship Programme has been very busy with Specialist Training from Autism South Africa for a week in “Early Identification, Early Intervention Strategies”, Curriculum Development Project Arts and Culture Education and Training for a week in the “Creative Approach to Using African Music in ECD Programmes” where each attendee was supplied with a Marimba set that is being used extensively in sites and ongoing in-service training in approaches to diagnosing and assisting struggling readers/Learners through Plasticine Play, Lego Blocks, Toe by Toe Reading Intervention, Word Works Educational Games, use of the African Storybook Project Reading books developed for Foundation Phase Readers and other strategies that have proven to be successful in assisting Learners reach their potential. The Interns work with children in Grade R to 3 to assist them to remediate developmental lags and, with Jacqueline and Snoxolo, to identify areas that need attention early on and intervene to assist academic progress. We are working closely with St Appolinaris Hospital Therapists, Pholela Special Needs School and other rural schools to identify, train and develop parents and staff to be better prepared to assist and work with learners with special educational needs.
  2. “Enter Another World – Reach Out and Read” Pilot Programme –The African Storybook Project books, many of which FLP staff developed and authored, are printed in beautiful colour and now form part of our Home Visiting Programme, Library Stock and Reading Programmes in Goxhill, Camanga and Underberg School. Once the print run is complete, the books will be in all FLP sites, Schools where we run Reading Programmes and in homes visited as part of the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme.  The FLP sewing ladies are busy completing the “Hanging Libraries” to adorn the walls of the beautiful huts.   These 76, brand new Foundation Phase Zulu titles, have been very well received.  Children and adults alike are reading them.  It is exciting that FLP Staff and Learners have been able to contribute to the national stock of Zulu children’s books where there is such a great need for local language books to keep first language readers inspired and excited to read!
  1. Community Stories – “The Power of Strong” In keeping with the FLP goal of valuing and recording traditional stories and fireside tales, Jill Frow, Florence Molefe and Zimbili Dlamini recently conducted sessions at Lotheni, where there is a highly regarded Gogo that comes and regales all with her stories at FLP Special Days.  She has been such an inspiration, that many a pre-school learner is confident enough to stand up and tell stories to groups in the Lotheni Community.  Jill recorded the sessions and Zimbili is going to be writing the Tales up to be included on the African Storybook Website – the Young Pre-schooler is busy with her illustrations which we hope to include as part of the book.

We are collecting autobiographies from all FLP Interns, with the aim of one day publishing these to inspire others to set goals for themselves that will stretch them beyond circumstances and comfort zones.

  1. Protective Behaviours– The FLP Interns and Staff attended the Protective Behaviours, International Training Hosted by FLP. Hilda O’Callaghan, an ex-South African currently practicing in Australia has developed the material and is an internationally respected Trainer in this very important field. This work forms a very important part of our training – for FLP Staff, Group Members and Community Members.  We are passionate about ensuring that our Communities are made aware of the many dangers facing young children from their birth. As a result of this advocacy, we have had many parents approaching us to intervene as a result of incidents that they were aware of, but did not realise the seriousness and possible long-term impact that these could have if they are not addressed early on.

FLP is committed to providing safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children.  We realise that this requires changing attitudes, behaviors, norms, and policies. We know that even if our Committed FLP facilitators, Educators in the Schools, Homes Visited and Community Leaders are motivated to create this kind of change, we will only see significant results when the idea garners the support of the larger community and its leaders. Thus, at FLP, our efforts to prevent child maltreatment (CM) and promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments in our communities requires both community and social commitment. FLP Coordinators and Staff sit on various Tribal Councils, War Rooms, Municipality Forums and Reference Committees to get this message across to the broadest audience possible.

This commitment does not stop at awareness, but moves along a continuum from awareness of the problems to solutions. When raising awareness is mentioned, many organizations’ default to very basic information such as stating that child maltreatment (CM) is a problem and that it is bad for children. Most people already know and accept these facts. What we emphasis as critical at FLP in this step, is communicating something that we hope will bring new supporters into the fold. We understand that to do this, we will need to continue to strive to do this in a way that our community members, leaders, and decision-makers both understand and value.

(Research has shown that the consequences of CM can last a lifetime and include negative impacts on social, emotional and physicalhealth. We can reduce the leading causes of illness and death in our community by assuring safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for our children.) 

Asifunde Sonke – Teacher’s Training College. Student portfolios are complete and the entire Fourth intake of students is awaiting results once their portfolios are returned from Wits.  It is inspiring to note that there have been over 98 Students that have been trained at the College from as far afield as the Eastern Cape!

At Asifunde Sonke we are committed to ensuring quality delivery of a  tried and tested, Nationally Certified Academic Programme.  In addition, we mentor the students, by placing them into Noah’s Ark and Underberg Mastery Unit, on a full-time basis where they work as teaching aides, paired with Educators that have vast experience in their respective fields.  This mentoring ensures that once they graduate, they carry not only an Academic skillset, but a social skillset that empowers them to enter a classroom confidently, having learnt from experts in the field!

  1. Visitors
  • Sarah Rennie – Grindrod Family Centenary Trust
  • Hilda O’Callaghan – Protective Behaviors Foundation Australia;
  • Uwe Cohrs and Gustav Achtermann – Be Your Own Hero Foundation Germany;
  • Nora Muehling – Office of the Mayor of Wolfsburg;
  • Angela Pillay and Anton Krone – Save Act;
  • Andrew Pitt – Clouds of Hope;
  • Leigh Lippert – Klanderhoek Children’s Home;
  • Darin Marais – Australia
  1. Thank you

Thank you to all the friends of FLP.  Your advice, support and visits are what keep us inspired and motivated to carry on so passionately.  It is great to know that we enjoy such wonderful body of support from all over the planet!

Pierre Horn

We have had a very full calendar at FLP over the past 3 months.

Save Act Partnership:

The FLP Adult Network Groups continue to benefit from the support and training provided by Save Act. The saving’s clubs within the FLP Adult groups have, since their inception, grown in financial strength and have managed to do things that would not have been possible, were it not for their access to capital. Many more FLP children are proudly wearing newer uniforms to school, with more children being able to register for FET Colleges and Universities and families starting small income generating enterprises.

Save Act continue to share an office at the FLP Resource Centre and use the venue regularly for training and meetings with their field workers.

Generation Joy Partnership:

FLP hosted the Generation Joy Board for 7 days in July. It was a valuable time to embark, with our partners, in work in the FLP groups that we were able to visit. Much insight was provided to Gen Joy about the FLP way of operating and the impact that we are having. The resources that they have provided to FLP will assist us greatly.

We have distributed 3500 Preschool books to the FLP sites and Library. These books that will form part of the Home Visitors Bags that they carry to the families that they visit. In addition, stationery, art supplies and educational aids were provided that will equip all of the FLP adult groups, the schools that we work in as well as all of the reading groups.

Nal’ibali Groups:

The Nal’ibali Team visited FLP in June, in order to conduct training for the FLP Facilitators and Coordinators. The training, held at the FLP Resource Centre, was very interactive and provided the FLP Team with an array of skills that will continue to foster the importance of making Reading a shared pleasure within homes and communities. The growth seen in the Nal’ibali Reading Clubs, and the academic improvement evident to the Educators in the Schools that the kids attend, has reinforced the value of the FLP intervention and as a result, our partnership with the Education Department and their appointed officials in Schools. Our Library Coordinator, Phumy Zikode, continues to write units for Facilitators that incorporate the Nal’ibali materials, FLP Box Library books as well as drama, role play, storytelling and read aloud techniques that inspire children to develop a love of reading.

Solon Training:

The entire FLP were trained by the Solon Foundation in the Aunty Stella Teen material. This training, for some of the group it was refresher training, was invaluable. We had our team leave the FLP Resource Centre energised and far better equipped to engage their Teen Groups on matters pertinent to them. The feedback that we have received in our team meetings has been positive, with the Teen Groups developing a confidence to engage issues that would otherwise have remained unexplored.

Community Works Programme (CWP):

We continue to meet with our CWP partners at Local Reference Committee level. The local Community Reference Committees, that include Tribal Leaders, Government stakeholders and other community leaders, have facilitated budget approval for the CWP work FLP has been working towards for the past 19 months. We aim to begin the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme in January 2017, and will run it for a full calendar year.

We are very excited about this work starting up again as we know the benefit it has for children from 0-5 years old. We have commissioned Linda Biersteker to conduct an assessment of the Khulisa Abantwana Programme. The baseline assessment tools are ready for piloting, which we will begin in the FLP Khulisa Abantwana groups in October. We are of the opinion that an assessment will highlight the great value that the programme has for the ECD sector of our rural population.

African Storybook Project:

The pilot project that FLP was working on with the African Storybook Project, where existing stories were translated and versioned, traditional tales captured and recorded and new stories written, has come to an end. The stories written by 2 of the FLP groups, and the other pilot partners in Lesotho, Pretoria, Kenya and Uganda, all appear on the website, to be used by any person or organization to encourage a love of reading.

FLP has met with SAIDE’s Sheila Drew, in order to discuss ways in which the stories can be used in our existing groups as well as how new writers can be encouraged to contribute to the ASP collection online. Sheila recently visited the FLP Groups and worked with Zimbili and the Library Assistants, providing training in ASP materials and their use. We are excited to watch this aspect of recording, developing and capturing the wealth of traditional tales in the rural areas become part of our Library Programme and Reading Groups.

I would encourage you to login to the ASP website in order to learn more about this valuable project, you may even wish to contribute to the collection. (www.africanstorybookproject.org)

Dlalanathi Counselling Groups:

In order to assist the Facilitators and Coordinators with the New Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Material and its implementation in the FLP adult groups, Dlalanathi conducted a 5 day training at the Resource Centre. The material in the Family Support Training assisted the FLP Team to provide their Adult Group Members with an array of skills that assist caregivers and parents to provide the age appropriate psychosocial support necessary to assist children become emotionally intelligent adults.

Xolani, Zinhle and Sanele attending a training course by Hilary McLea. Managing Loss, Grief and Continuous Trauma training was conducted in Durban, from 8-10 June. The Counselling Team conducted training in this aspect of Counselling upon their return, in order for the other FLP Facilitators and Coordinators to better equip their Adult Group Members to deal with

issues related to loss and grief, which is unfortunately a very big part of each of their lives within their respective communities.

We continue to run groups at 4 Schools in the areas within which the FLP Groups operate. The Reports from Schools, Community Members and Parents highlight the positive effect that this intervention is having in the children’s lives.

“I have noticed a big improvement since the last counselling session. He is not aggressive to his peers and is not as demanding of my attention anymore.”

“She is getting along better with children her age and is much happier overall.”

“Most of the Learners in the school wish that they could attend this intervention. As it was firstly the most seriously affected children, not all could attend. Fortunately participants used to tell them what they have learnt and so they can also benefit earlier……”

FLP’s new Library at Kwapitela Community:

We are very proud of the brand new FLP Library in the Kwapitela community. The Library assistant at the Library, Malibongwe, continues to draw children in large numbers to the Library, for his reading clubs and holiday programmes. Malibongwe was selected by the Kwapitela Community as the most qualified and enthusiastic candidate to take up the position of FLP Library Assistant. He is the first male Library Assistant at FLP and is a sound role model for the children at the School and Community at large.

The Kwapitela Community are very enthusiastic and excited about the presence on FLP in their Community as they have heard so much about FLP’s work in rural communities and how this work benefits them. They have approached FLP to begin Nal’ibali Reading Clubs, Drama Groups and would like an Adult Group too. It is so encouraging to have a community this enthusiastic about Literacy. We would like to extend our thanks to Sani Lodge and Backpackers as well as the Donor Stepp from St Anne’s School. Without their generosity, the Community Library would not be a reality.

Vusindaba Library:

We are still in the process of finalizing the Vusindaba Community Library and Resource Centre. All approvals and plans are approved and we are ready to start breaking ground. The funders, the Daitz Foundation and Project Build, are committed to the project and are wishing to start as soon as the Ingonyama Trust has provided an extension on the lease that we have negotiated on the site. The Trust has generously leased a sizeable piece of land to FLP on which we will construct the building. They are, however, having to make an amendment to their standard lease documents as they usually only award a 3 year temporary lease until building commences and then they extend this period. We would, however, require a minimum of a 50 year lease in order to proceed with this valuable rural initiative. We are confident that the Trust will consider the amendments and will forward the lease to us so that we can start building

Family Literacy Groups:

The Coordinators, Jill Frow and I continue to meet with staff members, Jill meeting with each staff member individually, in order to go through their Job descriptions and Position Charters with them. This is ensuring that regular feedback is encouraged and that standards of delivery remain high and constantly improving. The Position Charter, that aligns one’s job description with Key Performance areas, key objectives and standards of excellence that define individual and collective excellence, continues to impart a motivation towards improving and producing work of a high standard amongst staff members.

Jill Frow and the Coordinators monitor and evaluate the staff according to these criteria when they conduct their monthly Site Support Visits. This is assist us in our ongoing Staff Appraisal.

Noah’s Ark and Asifunde ECD Teacher’s Training Centre news:

We are busy with the extensions to the Noah’s Ark and the Asifunde Training Centre. The Saville Foundation and Nedbank have donated the funding to construct and equip the Centre. We are at foundation stage and look forward to reporting on the building progress in the next report.

Uthando Project Dolls and Dance Costumes:

Underberg Dance Studio, including ballet and modern dancing, recently put on their junior dance extravaganza. Family Literacy Project assists a number of students to attend dance classes as part of our intervention programme.

It was really encouraging to watch the dancers turn out in the most magnificent costumes ever. The wonderful costumes were kindly donated by the Uthando Project, who collected and shipped the costumes over to us for our programme. The level of pride and professionalism that has resulted has been very encouraging.