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)
We know some people like heavy lifting and to feel physically connected to the project! So in line with all COVID-19 Public Health & Hygiene Regulations (we know them very well after packing 20,048 Hampers over the past 3 months ) added to Domino’s signature agility, we have various #MandelaDay2020 options to suit your needs and budgets:
- Want to do a workout on site? We would love you and your team (strictly 5 peeps at time for an hour max) to help us pack and stack more Hope Hampers. It’s a R3,500 donation from your CSI/SED budget, and we will set up the packing grid here at Domino in Durban North on Friday 17 July 2020 only. Please email Lisa Doyle on email@example.com to book your time slot and send her your company details for invoicing. Watch our COVID-19 Workout video for inspiration of what you can expect and please don’t be a “Lazy Llama”!
- Prefer to workout off site? Ok perfect, you can come and collect a stack of 10 x COVID-19 Branded Buckets from us at the Domino Offices in Durban North and make a donation of R500. Then you and your team need to fill them at your offices/homes/churches with the 10 x Standarised Items (to the value of approx R300 each) Post a little video and tag us with you hard at work having fun packing. Please return the filled buckets all sanitised and sealed to our offices by Friday 31 July 2020. Email Lisa Doyle on firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send you all the details of how to fill your buckets
- Make-up Dignity Bags for girls? Gather your friends and make up pretty and practical Toiletry Bags (Uzwelo do some beautiful recycled options) for teenage girls who on our Literacy and Life School Programmes. Fill them with the following seven basic Toiletry Items, add a handwritten card of encouragement and then drop them at the Domino Offices by Friday 31 July 2020. Please email Lisa Doyle on email@example.com if you would like to bring joy & dignity to these girls.
- We need nappies for Africa – We care for 6 orphaned and vulnerable babies in our Babies Home and are always in need of nappies – Huggies/Pampers in sizes 2, 3 and 4 please. We can also use nappies to support little children in our partnering Early Childhood Development Centres. So, please pop a bundle of nappies, sensitive wet wipes and Vaseline (not perfumed) into your shopping trolley and drive by and drop off at Domino Offices in Durban North by Friday 31 July 2020. Please email Lisa Doyle on firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know you would like to do that!
- Did their school & sports shoes shrink in lockdown? If that happened to your kids, and you now have pairs of pre-loved school and sports shoes in great condition to give to community friends in need, please ask and encourage your classmates to bring them to school and drop at Domino Offices in Durban North on Friday 17 July 2020, or we can send our drivers to come and collect them all together. Please email Lisa Doyle on email@example.com with your school details and shoe collection contact person
Thank you so much #MandelaDay2020 #EachOneReachOne
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” Nelson Mandela
We realise and respect that many of you might want to do something for Mandela Day this year but would prefer to do it from the comfort of your own offices or homes. So herewith some simple and super fun options:
- Could you zap a R67 gift to us? Thank you Zap away and please challenge 6 – 7 friends to do the same! Can we make it easier? WhatsApp us on 083 777 5633 and we will send you the mobile Zapper link to forward on …
- Are you an avid Zwift racing cyclist? Yay then please cycle in the Virtual Aquelle Tour Durban on 25 and 26 July 2020. It is R50 per entry and you can seriously chase that leader board!!
- Or are you more of a #WeekendWarrior type cyclist, where it’s about the coffee and the connecting and the great open road? Great, then please get your cycling crew and sign up to participate in the Virtual Aquelle Tour Durban on 25 and 26 July 2020 It is also R50 per entry and you can race your mates along the beach, bush or berg …
- Are you artistic and wildly creative? Could you draw a picture, do a painting, create a doodle or take a series of photographs? Anything to do with hope. Then you can auction it off to your friends and family online, tag us in your “online exhibition”, share your story and donate the proceeds to us!
- Do you act, create drama, write poetry or sing? Could you add your voice to a video about the importance of education, justice and nutrition? You could share it on your social media channels and tag The Domino Foundation to create greater awareness of the importance of the #DominoEffect – #fromcradletocareer giving #dignity #hope and #justice
- How about challenging your friends overseas to any of the above options? We have PayPal especially for those that love Africa, her sunshine, Shwe Shwe, the big 5 and our beloved Madiba!
- Could you continue to raise awareness and support of our Hope Vouchers please? R410 is just a click away and brings freedom of choice and dignified relief aid
THANK YOU AND GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dear Domino Foundation Members, Partners and Donors,
I trust that you are holding up during these unusual days of the COVID-19 virus and the resultant lockdown. I am pleased to report that The Domino Foundation has been able to add considerable weight to the eThekwini Disaster Management efforts over the past 10 weeks and it is a privilege to be a fellow member of this great organisation.
It is our responsibility as the Board of Members of The Domino Foundation to hold an Annual General Meeting within six months of our financial year-end, which is 31 December each year. As a Board, we have explored multiple scenarios as to the possibility of holding an AGM during the ‘national lockdown’ we all currently face, and after presenting our options to legal counsel, it is our opinion that it would be best to defer our AGM for the 2019 year to a date (to be set) when all Members, Partners and Donors, have the possibility of attending in person.
This will mean that we have not fulfilled the technical responsibility for holding an AGM within six months of our year-end, however, we believe the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in force us to defer beyond the six months allowed. We will, however, be sending our Annual Report in due course.
The reason we have opted to defer the date for the AGM is due to the fact that we value all of The Domino Foundation Members and our desire is that everyone of us should have the opportunity to attend the meeting, which may not be possible should we hold it via electronic/digital medium. Should it be foreseeable, by October, that it will not be possible to meet in person in 2020, we will revert to holding a virtual AGM in the last quarter of the year.
We trust that you will support the Board in this matter and we look forward to seeing you all at the AGM when we are able to meet in person.
Richard Mun-Gavin on behalf of The Domino Foundation Board
Should you require further information please kindly contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Precious Thabete our Crisis Parent shared these insights and updates on what has been taking place in the transition home over the first few months of 2020.
“We are so happy to share the news that there were two separate adoptions in December 2019, which made way for us to take in two more special little people who both came to the baby home on the same day Monday 23 December 2019 and we really thank God for adding them to our Domino family”
Our home is alive with the sound of children healing and being cared for in a safe and loving environment. Precious, her team of caregivers, volunteers and community service learners (Pre COVID-19 lockdown!) continue to love these gorgeous kiddies who have been abandoned, given up for adoption or removed from their families for their own safety.
It has also been amazing to have the Domino Early Childhood Development Team come and empower the caregivers on how to run their mini morning teaching sessions for the two older boys so that active learning can take place!
“And whilst there have been no other adoptions this year, we were so excited to have a family from London pop in and visit us in February with their little girl and she seems to be so happy and doing so well!”
We continue to pray for our partners at Durban Child Welfare and Department of Social Development who assist us to place and care for vulnerable children in distress.
Zanele Nzimakwe is the Team Leader for this Enterprise and Educational programme. Our partnership is with ECD Owners who are our beneficiaries, to enable them to stimulate and enhance child learning holistically, by equipping them with essential business skills that will assist them to run their school as a small business that is effective.
Progress in the first quarter of 2020 was follows:
- The ECD Field Workers started with site visits in Blackburn and the Domino Babies Home
- Field workers are busy working on developing a Practitioner Guide (how to improve their teaching and awareness skills of the needs of their pupils)
- Provided age appropriate learning materials to our partnering ECD centres who are:
Other activities included:
- Quarterly Assessments were started but not completed prior to COVID-19 Lockdown
- Staff did a reflection session to assess the impact of those ECD’s who have partnered with Domino vs those who have not. This was a great encouragement to the team
- Team continue to implement the ECD 150 Tool
“Ithuba is running their ECD centre effectively and their DSD funding proposal is in progress” said Zanele. This it is anticipated will have a greater impact on their long term independence and business sustainability.
Exciting times for educators and learners at Ekuthuleni Primary School as we had established the Step 1 and 2 of the Neema Literacy Programme in Term 3 and 4 of 2019 and moved onto Step 3 in Grade 2 of 2020. This means that both Grades 1 and 2 are now benefiting from ‘Gateway into Reading’ in this wonderful school.
Activities for Term 1 of 2020 included – Implementation meetings with the Principal Mr Khalala and HOD’s, Educator workshops were completed, class lessons done, workbooks printed, resource packs prepared for each Grade 2 teacher and assessments (written and verbal) with 36 x Grade 2 learners were done. Shew it is ground breaking work which is of great significance for foundational phase reading in this community!
“This is a fundamental opportunity to shape mighty minds and Cathy Potter has been an incredible asset in this programme” says Leigh-Ann Stevens, Literacy Team Leader
An exciting innovation from COVID-19 is taking our reading lessons online – we hope this brings much hope and happiness to smart little minds!
“A shift to fewer schools but going deeper with more grades!” says Leigh-Ann Stevens, who is also the Life Skills Team Leader
A decision was made at the end of 2019 to only facilitate Life Skills lessons at two partner schools and they are:
- Grades 4, 6 and 7 at Zwakele Primary School and
- Grades 4, 5 and 6 at Ekuthuleni Primary School
This has provided the opportunity to increase their availability and visibility with learners in these schools, they are able to build better interpersonal relationships and be more available onsite at the school, as well as assisting with parent/child home visits and to be included in the school staff events.
In Term 1 of 2020:
Our Youth Workers facilitated over 146 lessons at both schools in Gradess 4 – 7 as well as an additional 3 x 3 hour sessions were held by The Dignity Project. A wonderful partnership with The Sharks Gap Academy has created an opportunity for the Sharks students to facilitate 2 x PE sessions at Zwakele at the end of Term 1.
“We really are needing a small external office like a ‘Wendy Hut’ for the Life Skills Team at Ekuthuleni as the principal has given us a small area next to the Grade 4 classroom block which we need as a staff office and private meeting space with learners” Leigh-Ann appealed on the Youth Workers behalf!
It’s an incredible privilege to partner with donors, who bring hope in the form of Skills Development to be able to offer ten young people the opportunity to pursue their dreams and goals through tertiary education, learnerships and apprenticeships.
In 2020 these are the sectors these young people have chosen to pursue to boost their skills and add to the strength of the economy:
- 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
Investment – 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.
Return – The students 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 team communication
Life in #Lockdown, all students that were studying online were given additional data to assist their learning. Regret the Technical Colleges have of course been closed.
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