Well, we’re a faith-based trust in the UK that works with iThemba Projects in South Africa to help break the cycle of poverty, abuse and HIV/AIDS in underprivileged South African communities.
Our passion is to serve the people of Mpumuza (Sweetwaters) and to give them a hope for the future through education, empowerment and new skills. We are particularly passionate about the new generation – the children and youth.
Our passion extends into two areas: the moral fibre of the youth and their education.
We believe that if a new generation of men and women can step into adulthood with a high level of education and strong moral convictions, the community of Mpumuza will experience a new hope for a much brighter future.
So, how do we do this?
Research has shown that creative play is foundational to stimulate brain development, develop fine motor skills, and be prepared for school. We found out that most kids in Sweetwaters, South Africa, weren’t getting the chance to imaginatively play and interact with their environment. They were just begin shuttled off to day cares to sleep, eat snacks, and sleep some more.
When kids in Sweetwaters started first grade, they didn’t have the skills they needed to succeed in school. They couldn’t put together a 6-piece puzzle. They didn’t know how to hold a pencil. They couldn’t stack blocks in order of their size, or thread beads on a string, or remember rhythms, or match colors. They were playing catch-up, right from the start.
We decided to give the schools more resources – more charts, games, puzzles, toys. We thought that would help. But, then we realised that the teachers didn’t know how to use them. They weren’t confident in their teaching abilities. We realised we needed to focus on the teachers because that would bring change to the children.
So our staff, along with some qualified preschool teacher volunteers from Hilton, started mentoring preschool teachers in Sweetwaters on a weekly basis.They train them, help them, give them advice and inspire them with new ways to teach their pupils.
Every year we evaluate an incoming class of first grade students in Sweetwaters. And what we find year after year, is that the kids who come from preschools using our Asidlale programme are more prepared for school.
This year’s results showed that only 37% of the students without Asidlale experience can achieve at basic school readiness tasks. Of the students with Asidlale experience, 59% achieved. That’s more than half. And each year, we expect this percentage to increase.
But that’s not all…
We also teache Lifeskills to older children – nutrition, HIV/AIDS, drugs, bereavement, relationships, etc. We run sports programs, have an Mpumuza Vegetable Garden and Greening Project to help provide employment and food to the community, and we partner with businesses and companies to help provide resources that schools in Mpumuza need and pay the school fees of children that cannot go to school.
Research also shows that for lasting community transformation to occur, 60-70% of the target population needs to be reached*. This “tipping-point” creates an environment where the majority of young people are well-educated and making wise decisions–establishing a new norm and making hopeful dreams a living reality. Right now, through iThemba education and Christian mentoring programmes, 11% of the young people in the community are being reached. Your monthly partnership would allow us to multiply the successes we’ve already experienced, playing a role in ending cycles of poverty, abuse, poor education and limited role models. We invite you to join us in this work of bringing hope to every child in Sweetwaters.
We believe that if we can mentor and educate at least 60-70% of a community, poverty and injustice will be history.