Even the Corona Virus could not lock us out from trying to teach English phonetic sounds and letter recognition to our 324 little beneficiaries at Ekutheleni Primary School in Besters.
Our primary COVID goal was – To create online teaching resources that Grade 2 learners could use to practice and as revision exercises.
And how did we achieve this?
We created a series of Whatsapp videos and uploaded them to our Domino You Tube channel and then communicated with the school to access the contact details of the parents/caregivers as we wanted to ensure that every child had an opportunity to access the resources created on the internet.
What was challenging?
mobile data is exorbitantly expensive so not easy for all parents/caregivers to access the resources online, we wanted to ensure that every child had an opportunity to access the resources created on the internet.
increase in job losses and the pre-existing high unemployment rate in this community
not being able to get hold of children as soon as lockdown level 5 happened
learners not receiving their daily meals impacted on household food budgets and resources
However obstacles always represent opportunities!
We would like to create a Zero Rated Website to enable learners and their families to access the tools, resources and learning channels without needing data so that literacy and collective family learning can take place at any time whether at school, home or in the community.
Leigh-Anne Stevens, Literacy Team Leader said” One of my big learnings has been that we need to know more about our beneficiaries so that in times of crisis we can communicate more efficiently and respond more effectively”
We are earnestly looking for a partner to develop and sponsor a Zero Rated Website for easy access to online educational programme content to the learners and their families for improved learning and literacy. We could even extend this and work with our Zulu foundation teachers to create literacy resources in the learner’s mother tongue. How exciting that would be!
We started 2020 with 1,474 pre-adolescent youth on our Life Skills Programme
We have had to be very adaptable as a team. The DOE stipulated that no external partnerships/role players were permitted at any schools. We have however been able to continue working with most of our learners and our role, certainly at the beginning of the lockdown, was largely supportive.
When schools reopened, the youth workers performed a supportive role in educating learners on safety protocols and assisted the schools with preparations before learners returned to school. Once schools reopened, the teams did the sanitising process for school learners and managed the entry and exit process to and from school. Early mornings were spent screening learners and liaising with parents leaving teachers free to concentrate on the task of helping learners catch up academic time lost.
Youth Workers then spent time in classrooms, helping where teachers were absent and were also permitted to teach the life skills curriculum with key grades.
Currently we are teaching life skills to Grades 6 and 7 at Zwakele and Grades 4 and 6 at Ekuthuleni Primary school. We are most grateful for our long standing relationship of trust with our schools who value us as partners in their schools
Activities that kept us engaged with one another and our beneficiaries during hard Lockdown Level 5
Weekly Zoom Team Connect Sessions – the team were supported emotionally to enable them to brainstorm new and innovative ways of reaching our beneficiaries so that life skills lesson content could be shared.
We worked strategically at developing Safety and Education Protocol Presentations to help learners and our partner schools navigate their return to schools. Our Youth Workers developed visually appealing Powerpoint presentations to educate learners about the virus and how to stay safe. These were sent out via WhatsApp videos and were reinforced when learners returned to school. The team also experimented making short videos highlighting important lessons from our curriculum. These were sent out to some learners whose parents’ details we already had access to.
Weekly telephonic contact was initiated by the Programme Team Leader with the school principals
The team were instrumental in planning and facilitating the distribution of 1,300 Relief Aid Food Hampers to the most vulnerable beneficiaries within schools partnerships.
We continued upgrading the manual curriculum into digital presentation in classrooms using data projectors.
Once we moved to Lockdown Level 4, the Life Skills team pivoted to assist with general Domino Disaster Relief Operations as many hands and feet were needed with the unpacking and repacking efforts
They have also assisted with the Data Capture of Beneficiary Lists for Research and Evaluation
Where are we now 6 months down the line?
We are back in our schools, screening learners, liaising with parents on behalf of the schools and helping where teachers are absent. We are also facilitating Life Skills lessons once again but not able to teach all the grades we taught at the beginning of the year, however we are most grateful to have the opportunity to reach some of our beneficiaries.
What was challenging?
Data coverage and fast internet connection in the township areas is not ideal. Trying to have online Zoom Meetings with the team was challenging and at times a very frustrating experience. The team was adaptable and should be commended for their willingness to engage and innovate. One of our greatest challenges we realised was that we relied too much on the school as our contact point with the learners’ parents/caregivers. With schools closed at such short notice, our ability to stay connected to our learners was limited. We have highlighted this as an area of importance that we need to improve in and are developing tools to have more direct contact opportunities with our beneficiaries and their families.
Opportunities to grow…
What lockdown taught us is that team work is vital for efficiency and efficacy. Within our organisation new opportunities have presented themselves to work more co-operatively between programmes and this became most evident in the partnership between Nutrition and Life Skills. Before a child can process any information, he/she has to have energy to pay attention through brain food. Our Nutrition Programme supplies additional protein rich sandwiches to vulnerable children at school, to supplement the government feeding scheme. What the team have observed is that sometimes the most hungry/vulnerable children are not always receiving a sandwich because of the way they are being distributed. To address this, we are in the process of analysing how life skills could assist with developing tools to help teachers to identify the most vulnerable of children in need. We are also exploring how the Youth Workers could help with distributing sandwiches to the orphaned and vulnerable learners.
Regards School Nutrition – we want to build capacity not own the process so our intention is not to replace the role of the OVC teacher, rather to co-labour in support of the system already in place and see ourselves as adding value to our schools ensuring that we strengthen an active and inspiring learning environment for our beneficiaries.
Want to impact the youth today for their leadership skills tomorrow?
There is such untapped potential in the young people in our country and we would love to see all of them thrive and shine. Is your personal or business conviction to mentor, model and motivate the youth to achieve all they are designed to be? Then please will you connect with our Donor Relations Team Karen Brokensha or Tarin Stevenson and possibly even host a Think Tank Session with Leigh-Ann and our Youth Team #onebodymanyparts
Life for most of our tertiary/bursary beneficiaries continued with a seamless ebb and flow of the ease and proficiency of online learning
Below is a list of our current ten beneficiary’s and their various tertiary education profiles:
Adult Based Education – Matric
Aviation – Commercial Pilots License
Commerce – 3rd Year
Construction – Arc Welding
Construction – Quantity Surveying
Education – 4th Year
Education – Foundation Phase NQF4 1st Year
Law – 1st Year
Mechanical Engineering N5
Performing Arts – 1st Year
The beneficiaries receive a monthly Living and Travel Allowance (February – November) and in addition all Tuition and Text Books are paid for directly to their respective institutions.
In turn, they submit Quarterly Progress Reports to The Domino Foundation, engage with external Mentors for leadership development and accountability, and are on a WhatsApp Group with Shaun Tait, CEO of The Domino Foundation, for additional support and insight.
During COVID-19 Lockdown all students studying online were given additional data to assist their learning online. The Technical Colleges have been closed.
Have you allocated all of your Enterprise and Skills Development budgets for 2020/21? If not, can we help you to equip and support these students? Please connect with our Donor Relations Team Karen Brokensha firstname.lastname@example.org or Tarin Stevenson email@example.com to help you make that commitment come to fruition.
Our primary goal is to ‘nourish the hungry learners in our partnering schools, churches and crèches and supplement nutritional well-being of learners where the government are not/unable to feed vulnerable children!’
Provide nutrition with measurable metrics in schools;
Mobilise the churches to support our food/relief efforts with compassion, prayer and care;
Educate beneficiaries on the health risks of Covid-19;
Distribute nutritional and sustainable food hampers in collaboration with KZN Council of Churches and their LEANS, to vulnerable families in need to reduce hunger and alleviate the chaos in the crisis to create hope, whilst the government channels found their feet to respond.
Continued with our sandwich feeding in primary schools as well as JAM porridge and Soup making/deliveries from the Brookdale kitchen, to the Amaoti, Mzinyathi, Waterloo and CBD.
Continued measuring and weighing each child, trained crèche owners on nutrition and continued the huge task of assessing each crèche; facility, meal plan, programme and cooking facilities, with a view to assist with an action plan for the next 2 years.
As COVID became a stark reality for all, we presented a strategy to the KZN Council of Churches on a way for the church to get involved and activated into smaller clusters, working in team to identify the most vulnerable and to assist with discrete distribution.
Facilitated COVID training workshops with all our staff and crèches, before initial lockdown took place.
Mobilized the Domino/Anthem property into a pack station and distribution hub and converted the Vox Coal offices into a JOCC (Joint Operations Command Centre).
Space to store and collect food. As the enormity of the pandemic became apparent, Anthem Church Leadership was agile and generous giving the Domino Nutrition and Disaster Response Team permission to use the property as a Disaster Response Hub. We used the Church Auditorium, Coffee Shop, Training Rooms, Kitchens, Car Park and every other available floor space to store, pack and stack food and non-perishable food items.
Manpower. The hard lockdown resulted in a desperate shortage of staff as the team were mandated to remain at home. Core team of Cathy Whittle (Programme Leader), Shaun Tait (CEO), Mdu Vato and Alfred Madikizela (Drivers) created a formidable Disaster Response Team in addition to a small group of 10 local university students, who volunteered their brawn and energy to help pack 1,000s of buckets, working late into the nights assisting with distribution and logistics. In addition, Lindo Khoza of Lindbong Community Development joined the team as a Community Facilitator on the ground, negotiating and facilitating the distribution of food hampers with school leaders, local chiefs and ward councilors.
Security. Large amounts of food needed to be delivered after hours in the dark, to ensure the safety of the teams and community recipients.
Lack of heaving duty/pallet lifting/transport equipment. As the demand for food security grew so the need for quantities was super-sized (yes think Super-Link Trucks11), without an in house pallet jack and fork lift – unpacking donations was a back breaking and challenging. Big thanks to Fresh Flava for sponsoring a forklift for our massive Solidarity Fund delivery.
The mandate and mission remains the same as for North Durban, but the impact is with communities down south of Durban …
Normal kitchen activities ceased altogether due to Covid-19 so Purity and Cheryl joined the Durban North Disaster Response Unit to help feed the hungry in the South
The Toti bakkie was delivered to Durban North to be used to help with distribution of disaster hampers so we co-opted Cliff Dann to help with distribution of hampers in Amanzimtoti and surrounding areas
A call was put out to the church community and a substantial amount of food and funds were collected
Packed the hampers and delivered to the people in the community.
When the bakkie came back to Toti we collected and distributed hampers to the community, ECD owners and all our beneficiaries as well as some Non-Profits Organisations in the South Durban area.
No sandwiches were made or distributed during April – August 2020. We have however started making (volunteers assisting from home) and distributing samies to partnering school in need.
Approximately 200 Hope Hampers were collected and delivered to communities in need.
Each crèche owner together with the most vulnerable families were given a disaster hampers to see them through the 3 week period.
Jam SA – crèche owners were given porridge to distribute to the families of the children in their crèches, which helped them tremendously.
There were not sufficient relief hampers donated to assist the increase in the demands we received, but that is to be expected as there were and are so many people out of work and lost their jobs that were not in a position to donate/support our requests
Not having a dedicated community driver, but management are looking into this as a longer term solution and for a partner/sponsor to make this happen.
Some of our beneficiaries have experienced a lot of emotional upheaval and are struggling through this. They are very fearful and confused. I have had phone calls and messages asking for emotional help and support.
The community have heard about The Domino Foundation now and it seems to have made them more aware of our work here. Great for our awareness!
Individuals have donated funds to the Toti kitchen, more than ever before and we are delighted!
If so and you live and work in the Amamzimtoti area and have the resources to sponsor a qualified and responsible driver to do the food deliveries for Domino South Durban Kitchen to our local partnering ECD, Primary and High schools? That would be so amazing, please connect with our Donor Relations Team Karen Brokensha or Tarin Stevenson to help us deliver nutrition and relief aid and it will create a new job!
Help our beneficiaries through health and wholeness
Help them regain hope
Help to restore their dignity
Assist them to live a drug free lifestyle
During lockdown we kept the programme running, via Whatsapp messaging and video calls.
Although it was very difficult at first, we managed to keep communication and support going with the help of the Project Exodus material that our Restore Co-Ordinator/In house Social Worker is using at present to empower the beneficiaries.
Challenges and decisions
The main challenge we faced was the fear of the beneficiaries relapsing because we were not able to monitor them on in person or that they might get infected with the Corona Virus, making them even more vulnerable.
On assessment we discovered 50% of the beneficiaries had relapsed. Reasons being that they were worried about the future holds for them, in the programme and outside in their communities, this insecurity led to instability and back to their old ways.
Management agreed beneficiaries could come back on site to be screened, sanitised and on condition there would be wearing of masks at all times
We engaged the external service provider HIV/TB Care team to come and help us with the medical screening for all our beneficiaries (and staff if they wanted to).
We are still striving towards the Release Phase for these beneficiaries once our Social Worker is satisfied with their progress in the current Restore Phase. A final assessment will be done which will serve as a gateway to the Release Phase.
August 2020 – The programme has resumed as planned with four beneficiaries and there has been a keen interest of six new beneficiaries wanting to sign up for the programme in 2021.
Do you have a heart for abused and addicted women? A desire to be part of the solution to set them free? YOU do? Then please make contact with our Donor Relations Team – Karen Brokensha or Tarin Stevenson on ways to partner in this programme to bring life, wholeness and healing!
The second and third quarter of 2020 can best be described as COVID chaos, a kaleidoscope of mass donations and regional distributions, days/nights and weekends. Every 24 hours passed in a flurry of receipts, delivery notes, invoices and beneficiary lists. The phones rang off the hook and the emails and Facebook post requests poured in.
The JOCC (Joint Operations Command Centre) became our second homes and daily Zoom calls with the KZN Disaster Response Team was vital shot of directional sanity.
Here is a link to the stats – the beneficiary numbers, areas and impact which is a powerful account for our collaborative efforts
This manic pace, soon eased into a steady flow of logistics and check lists, improved communication, shared workloads, WhatsApp Groups, LEANS and churches working together, new collaborations and more hands and feet on deck to help as more of the other programme staff came back onsite to work.
We strategized who needed what and who was in fact was presenting as the “most vulnerable” including the “new vulnerable”. This helped us update our beneficiary lists and to assist/ create sustainable impact into those that most need food relief and support.
It is an ongoing programme that is slowing down as people settle into a new ‘normal’ and various stakeholders, churches and corporates play their parts more proactively in Alert Level 1 of Lockdown. We have moved into a phase of ‘Preparedness’ for the Summer Rains and potential Shack Fires that normally take place in the final quarter of each year
The pandemic is far from over and we are constantly looking to build long term sustainable partnerships for Disaster Relief and Response, with a particular emphasis on PREPARATION to avoid ‘known and the more predictable’ disasters …
Is that you/your company or your church? Then please connect with our Donor Relations Team – Karen Brokensha or Tarin Stevenson on ways to partner in this space.
From our inception in 2004 as Indlela we thought it would be helpful to have a “family tree” of the all those who have laid the foundations, taken the baton and run the race to bring life and hope to those we are called to serve
The Fairhavens Babies home for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) was birthed by Jenni Wallace then led and loved by Melanie Turner, then Sandy Hamblin and is now in the capable hands of Crisis Mother Precious Thabete.
Early Childhood Development (ages new born – 6 years old) was began with Yvonne Haviland, then Toni Wilkins with Gavin Simpkins advising, Slie Ndimande and is now led by Zanele Nzimakwe.
The Literacy Programme for Foundation Phase (Grade 1 – 3) was introduced by Rachel Bowyer and is now overseen by Leigh-Ann Stevens.
Life Skills Programme (from Grade 4 – Matric) was built by Toni Wilkins and continues to be championed by Leigh-Ann Stevens.
The Counselling Centre – was also started by Toni Wilkins.
Skills Development (Tertiary Education and Enterprise Development) was managed by Brad & Taryn King, and is now facilitated by The Domino Foundation CEO, Shaun Tait
2019 – Current CEO is Shaun Tait and Richard Mun-Gavin remains Chairman of the Board alongside Board Members who include Mickey Wilkins, Shaun Tait, Michele Gorrie, Robert Nthuli, Michael Mun-Gavin and Michael Ferreria.
Our Red Light Ladies (Women at Risk) visited the Blue Roof Life Space in Wentworth, Durban last week …
Here is insightful feedback from our Release Co-ordinator, Esther Madikane, on the increased impact in vulnerable people when we work together to care for them!
Career Assessment Centre:
Blue Roof is one of our outsource partners whose career tools are designed to help individuals better understand how a variety of personal attributes (i.e. data values, preferences, motivations, aptitudes and skills), can definitively impact their potential success and satisfaction to select different career options and work environments best suited to their personality strengths and interests
We partner with their services by sending our beneficiaries to their state of the art Career Assessment Centre to help the ladies get ready for their Release Phase of our Intervention, so they have with a better understanding of what careers they are suited to and what skills, qualifications and education they need to get there.
Blue Roof is one of the Zoë-Life ICS Projects which also runs a Wellness Centre to provide HIV Services and Support. It is such a privilege to access all these services under one roof. A large percentage of our beneficiaries are HIV+ and after being assessed we determined they were either not on treatment, or have defaulted and are not taking their treatment!
Our beneficiaries will continue receiving ongoing services from The Wellness Centre for their HIV Treatment and Support
It is more than a quarter of a century since Nelson Mandela’s acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo. On that auspicious occasion, he articulated his vision for a nation where the children should be “… no longer tortured by the pangs of hunger or ravaged by the disease or threatened with the scourge of ignorance…” Twenty seven years on and that vision is far from being realised in this country. South Africa’s under-five population carries significant marks of malnutrition. As of 2016, more than one in four under-fives showed evidence of stunting and one in eight children in the same age bracket could be categorised as overweight…and the culprit is poor nutrition.
The “hunger, disease and ignorance” Mandela spoke of are often almost inevitable bedfellows in many of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres and schools in South Africa’s less affluent communities and research has shown that there is a direct link between poor nutrition and poor educational outcomes. The University of Cape Town’s 2018 South African Child Gauge reported that six million South African children were living below the poverty line. Children in these circumstances are without reliable access to food, let alone to the right sort of food to ensure healthy development of their ability to learn and to reach their full potential as adults. A guaranteed meal at school is a strong incentive for children from financially-challenged homes to go to school.
The Domino Foundation’s programmes have some 13,566 beneficiaries, the majority of whom are either in pre-primary or primary education. With two of its programmes focusing on Life Skills and Literacy, a third on Early Childhood Development and a fourth on Nutrition, it was inevitable that the teams involved would be keen to develop their interrelationship. Cathy Whittle, leader of the Nutrition programme says: “Our vision is fill the feeding gap and to make ECD Centres so attractive that parents want to send their children to school. We aim to add value to the existing government feeding schemes, allowing children to receive two meals a day. Our dream is of communities where no child is too hungry to concentrate and learn.” Emphasising the Nutrition programme’s specific Christian mandate, she added: “We feed those in our community who are going hungry through a crisis or circumstances beyond their control. In doing so, we enhance learning through meeting children’s physical need for health and balanced nutrition.”
The Nutrition programme’s Crèche Feeding Project provides nutritious meals to children at crèches every week day and encourages their attendance and helps them achieve developmental milestones. The School Sandwich Project has sandwiches delivered to school children who would otherwise have no lunch, providing the learners with ‘food for thought’. This augments the government feeding scheme to ensure that children who may only have a single meal at home get an additional meal designed to promote cognitive development and including carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables.
Monitoring and evaluation have been crucial to ensure that the Domino Foundation’s Nutrition programme remains relevant and effective for consistent impact. Before the Covid crisis burst on South Africa’s marginalised communities, the closely linked areas of nutrition and hygiene had been a focus of Cathy’s teams, with extensive crèche owner training on the subject. Each crèche owner and child was weighed and measured. BMIs were calculated with bi-annual follow-ups scheduled. “The highlighting of obesity and stunting issues gives a clear picture on needed interventions. Our one kitchen averages 80,000 meals each month consisting of a highly nutritious porridge, daily-prepared and delivered soup or dried soup ingredients for crèches to prepare themselves. We aim to have more crèches preparing their own soup, creating space for new crèches to join the programme and pass through the three year graduation phase,” explained Cathy.
That was all before the challenge Domino faces on an ongoing basis was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and Lockdown. Cathy elaborated: “Since 27 March, most of these children have not been to school at all and so could have missed out on that vital daily meal.” Cathy pointed out that not only had extreme hunger become an even greater threat in those communities but so had the negative educational effects of malnutrition.
The Domino Foundation’s Disaster Relief Unit, also led by Cathy, moved into action at the start of Lockdown to meet the basic needs of these young learners and their families. As part of KZN Response, a partnership of five NPOs (Disaster Relief, the Red Cross, Zoe Life, CityHope and Nation Changers), Cathy’s team set about collecting, packing and distributing “Hope Hampers” in and around Durban and beyond. The hampers included basic hygiene items and crucial non-perishable foodstuffs, enough to sustain a family of four for three weeks. Eventually, the equivalent of one million four hundred thousand meals were distributed. “The making of the thousands of sandwiches had to stop but feeding these vulnerable children could not,” declared Cathy. “Individuals, churches, community groups and corporates came on board and bands of masked volunteers made themselves available every day to see thousands of 20 litre buckets packed and loaded.”
At the end of the initial period of hard lockdown on 30 April, the principals of four schools in the Amaoti community in North Durban were consulted and lists of 1,500 vulnerable families drawn up. These were contacted and came to the relevant schools in small ‘socially distanced” groups at specified times to receive relief food parcels.
The days of Lockdown will eventually come to an end, but Cathy and her teams are fully aware that it will not be a matter of ‘back to business-as-usual’. Nutrition is a dynamic, changing programme and the pandemic and its fallout have dramatically changed the landscape. Cathy noted, “Through collaboration with like-minded NPO’s, corporates and individuals, we will continue to streamline our efforts into the relief space, growing and assisting with education in our resilience and preparedness, particularly in the light of the way this pandemic has challenged our abilities, time, resources and partnerships.”
Shaun Tait, CEO of The Domino Foundation, commented how adaptability and agility has characterised the way in which the teams of the various programmes have responded over the past months: “Contingencies and emergency situations have demanded that we pivot and change direction quickly and efficiently to be an answer in present crises and also to remain true to our long-term vision.”
Cathy is always keen to share more on this vital work and welcomes groups, companies and individuals who would like to be part of this ongoing programme to feed the most vulnerable in their time of need to contact her firstname.lastname@example.org or 031 563 9605)