Learning For Life

English student spends time giving back to the community!

The gentle English accent might fool you, but Theo is fluent in Afrikaans. In fact, he and his family speak nothing else when they are ‘home alone’ in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, north of London. His surname is the giveaway: the Bredell family hails from Bethlehem in the Free State and moved to the UK in 2009. Theo did all of his schooling in England and has been accepted to study medicine at St Andrew’s University later this year. Fellow congregants at the local church in Sharnbrook are South Africans and it was through the wife’s parents, Morningside residents, Gary and Sandy van Vuuren, on a visit to see their family, that Theo came to hear about The Domino Foundation. The aspiring medico was planning a trip to visit family in South Africa and was invited to stay with the van Vuurens in Durban. There Theo met Shaun Tait, Domino’s CEO, who suggested the young Englishman spend time as a volunteer with the foundation.

He has landed himself a heavy schedule working with several of the programmes at Domino, taking part in many aspects of Domino’s work: sandwich-making; food deliveries; preparation of hygiene kits and emergency relief hampers; data-capture and even visiting the Babies’ Home to spend time with the infants and toddlers! “Perhaps this is where my ambition to become a doctor is showing?” he said. “I want a career with a dynamic balance of academic challenges and helping people from every walk of life. Interacting with these little people and seeing their response when someone takes an interest in them really has gladdened my heart.” Theo joined Domino’s Disaster Relief Unit in a trip to Jozini to distribute hygiene supplies to local communities. Commented Cathy Whittle, DRU’s team leader: “Theo’s participation in this distribution was greatly appreciated by the team and by the beneficiaries.”

When asked whether there might be an ongoing Domino/Sharbrook connection, Theo enthusiastically said: “I really hope there will be!” The van Vuurens echoed that: “Theo has been a delight and his heart to make a difference in people’s live is very evident!” said Sandy. A report-back is on his schedule when he is back home and he said he will definitely be recommending The Domino Foundation as an excellent and rewarding organisation to do voluntary work with.

Esther Madikane, who manages Domino’s volunteer programme said: “We have had a number of international volunteers spend time with us. They always go home deeply impacted by what they see and do here and are always our greatest ambassadors.” She invites anyone, either local or from overseas, who is interested in volunteering with the foundation, to contact her on 031 563 9605 volunteer@domino.org.za.

Caption: English volunteer, Theo Bredell with Domino’s Volunteer Co-Ordinator Esther Madikane.

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Clearing the way through Computer Complexities

For many for whom pen on paper is the most formalised way of communication they know, the avalanche of tech terms in the world of computers is simply (or not so simply) daunting. The ten ladies from the staff of The Domino Foundation who are in the middle of their three-month adventure into the world of querty boards, UBs and mouses (surely that should be mice?), are on a journey into IT-savvy. The computer-literacy course, which is being facilitated by The Clothing Bank, and was developed in collaboration with non-profit training and skills organisation, Enza Empowering Women, includes an introduction to computers, MS Office skills, email and internet.  Jane Naude of The Clothing Bank’s Umbilo Road, Berea-based Durban offices says, “It is critical for everyone to have computer skill. They open so many opportunities and make effective communication possible in today’s technology-centric world.  We are working in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Number 5 which aims at women and girls being empowered to take control of their lives by giving them skills to compete in the job market. With computer skills in hand, they also gain a sense of confidence that they have a worthwhile contribution to make to their families and to their communities”.

Zanele  Nzimakwe, who leads Domino’s ECD team, is one of four on the course from her own team, with the others being members of the Nutrition and Life Skills team and the Babies’ Home programme’s staff. She commented that her ability to use her laptop was previously very basic. ”Now, I understand so much more of what I can do with this machine…I feel free! And, when things go wrong, I don’t have to run to our IT man for help!”

At the end of the course, the bevy of eager computer-literate ladies will receive certificates proving they are ready to launch into the world of spread-sheets, search-engine navigation, word-processing, and computer security and privacy.

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Active learning in Foundation Phase

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:
  1. iThemba
  2. Siyavuka
  3. Smanethemba
  4. Khulanathi
  5. Sifundokhule

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

Victory!

“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.

Have a sneak peak of Zanele taking learning online

 

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All children must read

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!

 

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ECD UPDATE 1st QUARTER

The year started on a very high note for the ECD programme with the opening of the Ithuba ECD Centre in Blackburn Village, north of Durban. It has been an inspiring story of municipal, corporate, social outreach and local community cooperation to give the children of the area an opportunity to learn and grow, preparing them for a lifelong journey of education.

The iThuba Community Centre, a partnership between eThekwini Municipality, Tongaat Hulett Development and the Blackburn community has seen the development of the ECD centre, based in an old house which has been refurbished. The ECD programme will initially be overseen by The Domino Foundation’s ECD programme providing mentorship, assessments of the facilities and teaching. The programme will also supply a qualified teacher while training and mentoring local teachers to run the pre-school.

“The Domino Foundation is proud to be working with Tongaat Hulett Development in the establishing and opening of the iThuba Early Childhood Development Centre,” said Sliee Ndimande, ECD Programme Leader. “There is a high incidence of unemployment and as a result significant disadvantage and poverty in the greater uMhlanga area. There are also few pre-primary facilities serving the communities, and often are little more than childminding establishments. The Domino Foundation’s vision is to improve the quality of learning and preparation for school readiness of vulnerable children through focused empowering of ECD owners and educators. We see that, with the Tongaat Hulett Development funding, the lthuba ECD Centre will become a critical ECD model in the area.”

In the Waterloo community near Sibaya, the ECD Programme continued its work, funded by the ‘Sibaya Community Trust’, to upgrade early educator skills. This programme assists ECD centres in underprivileged areas to become sustainable by empowering the owners with business management skills. It also implements training to upgrade teaching skills so that critical early childhood development becomes a reality in the twelve centres where the ECD programme is working. The year’s activities began with a refresher training in Waterloo. Sliee Ndimande reported that many of the teachers who attended the workshop are doing well in their schools. ECD fieldwork in Waterloo began at the start of March in the areas of mentoring, monitoring, training, resources and nutrition.

A survey conducted of new practitioners in the ECD programme highlighted the critical need for training with these ladies in the crèches through the programme’s partners, ‘Unlimited Child’. The Unlimited Child’s programme covers life skills, mathematics, life science and language and aims to train caregivers in how to make learning fun. The programme starts with a hands-on four-day training session. The day-to-day practitioners’ guide, the daily routine and learning through play with educational toys are excellent tools to equip the care-givers and educators to give their charges a solid foundation for when they enter primary school.

Looking ahead into the year, the thorough groundwork which has been laid thus far in 2018 will enable another four crèches to benefit from the ECD programme as of July 2018. Growth has already been and will continue to be the hallmark of The Domino Foundation’s ECD programme.

Funding is urgently needed for a vehicle as the ECD programme expands. If you are able to assist us in this or be involved in some way with e programme, please contact Sliee Ndimande (ecd@domino.org.za).

 

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Stories from the classroom: 4th Quarter 2016

When young people feel a sense of self-worth and purpose they’re more empowered to make wise life choices. Our Life Skills workers have seen this belief come to life time and time again; the valuable lessons they teach bearing fruit in the lives of the young learners they teach.

This year the learners from the four schools in Amaoti have particularly loved being exposed to new places, activities, and experiences through the Life Skills programme. The creative energies of the Girls Club have been ignited through beading, crafting and making. Some young ladies also visited COGS church for a morning of leadership training. And a few boys were taken a Leadership Camp where they were taught valuable life skills and had time to enjoy the outdoors. They were chosen for the trip to help them see life outside of the allure of underage drug and alcohol abuse. It was a jam-packed action adventure weekend and the boys left profoundly influenced and inspired.

Our youth workers continue to be equipped through regular trainings to tackle the challenges of teaching young learners faced with navigating being a teenager and are facing tough circumstances. We’re also incredibly lucky to have a handful of UNISA social work students placed with us during the year. They assist the youth workers with one-one-one counseling sessions and facilitate therapeutic groups for learners facing real challenges of sexual abuse, a terrible reality for many, as well as focus groups for those young learners who had lost parents and friends to HIV / AIDS.

This past quarter we also took the time to honour the four schools’ teachers by inviting them to a screening of Freedom Writers, a movie based on a true story of a teacher who was able to transform the lives of a classroom of at-risk students. It’s a movie promoting a message of empowerment, tolerance, and innovative teaching. There was clapping, smiles and tears.

Thank you to every donor for your support. Your donations enable us to steadily build into the lives of these young learners, which although challenging is both a privilege and an honour.

 

Girls club outing to Springfield swimming pool

The Girls Club outing to Springfield swimming pool.

Leadership camp with some boys from the Amaoti schools.

Leadership camp with some boys from the Amaoti schools.

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#KnowYourNPO: Life Skills

Throughout the year we’ve shone a light on each of The Domino Foundation’s expansive programmes so that you, our amazing supporters, can get to know more about us. Now it’s time for our Life Skills programme to take the limelight… #KnowyourNPO #LifeSkills

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#1. Our Life Skills vision is to empower young learners to make wise life choices, instilling in them a sense of self-worth and purpose and offering them hope for the future. Through engaging life skills lessons and after school recreational activities in three Amaoti schools we help learners realise the immense value they carry – and that they can change their world!

#2. Our Life Skills lessons offer learners an open and engaging platform to talk through tough topics. Either parents are too busy or the school is viewed as being responsible for bringing up the children; leaving complicated topics like puberty, relationships, and friendships without any discussion. In order for learners to develop as adults, they need to have an opportunity to reflect, discuss and act. 

#3. The Boys and Girls Club provides a safe and fun space for learners to explore creative and sporting interests. The three schools the Life Skills Project works into don’t always have the resources to offer stimulating afternoon activities, so our clubs facilitate sessions on soccer, aerobics, and medical talks. We’re all about creating a well-rounded learner! 

#4 Wanting to know exactly how our Life Skills programme operates?

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#5 As with most schools we reach – sports, culture and other recreational activities are not easily accessible, so our Boys & Girls Club bridges that gap and provides fun sports and recreational options for learners as seen in the awesome infographic below.

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#6 There are many ways to support our Life Skills programme like donating via Zapper South Africa. Simply scan the QR code below and BAM – you’re funding a child’s education!

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#7 Another way to support our Life Skills programme is to add The Domino Foundation as your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet beneficiary. You can have up to 3 beneficiaries so no need to just choose one! More here and update details here.

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My 10 little lightbulb moments about volunteering at a non-profit

Annelize Muller shares her journey of volunteering at an NPO and the valuable nuggets of wisdom she’s learned along the way.

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Enlightening. That’s the word that comes to mind when I tell you about my last 5 months. I’m a Product Development Manager at a big corporate and have been in the corporate environment for the past 11 years. A seed was planted in my heart a few years ago of giving back to our South African community, to do something more, be part of the change, share, learn and really understand our people, especially those who are not as privileged as I am. Although in saying privileged I sometimes feel that our poorer communities are much richer in true life value than what we could ever be in our individualised world’s, big offices, nice running cars and comfortable houses.

My company graciously approved my request for a 7 month sabbatical to go and learn about the needs of our communities, understand how a NPO works, how corporate and non-profits can hold hands to create a brighter future and to revive my soul so I can come back and be the best leader I can be.

So I share my 10 lightbulb moments I had in the hope that someone can either learn from them or be able to share their own lightbulb moments that will make for a better South Africa today.

Lightbulb #1: The REAL need vs YOUR need to give:

For anyone who knows Maslow’s Hierarchy, he hit the nail on the head. Our poorer communities’ needs are really really basic. Food and security (safety of a home) are what they need and once that need is consistently filled it will release them to start thinking about things such as education, working etc.

But often we give on the level we’re sitting on. For example, when I joined the Life Skills Girls Club team, where I helped facilitate extra-mural activities for teenage girls, I first organised pilates classes. This was an epic fail because it was not aligned with the REAL need but only with my own.

To put it more in perspective, have you ever had a day at school or work without food? Or calculated a maths sum on an empty stomach?

Lightbulb #2: It can’t be about pity or charity, it’s got to be a win-win

In no way is this point supposed to make you feel guilty for having a nice car and a comfortable house. I have got mine.

My question is, what are the factors that got you where you are today? A good education? Books to read? Parents that were happy to talk about the birds and the bees? If you think back about the little things you take for granted that made you a success, I believe those are the small things that YOU can give to the others if you want to see our whole country succeed. And in doing so you might just learn something mind blowing in return…..

Lightbulb #3: Our country is full of potential – harvest it!

At The Domino Foundation’s AGM we had the privilege of listening to 6 youngsters who came through our life skills programme in Gr4 -7 and who are now in their final year of school. I was totally overwhelmed with their hard work ethic, what beautiful leadership quality they displayed and how much they attributed their success to the Life Skills programme. We have endless amounts of talent in our country that just doesn’t have the opportunity to be nurtured or receive guidance from an adult. It’s unforgivable that we let these beautiful people slip through the cracks

Lightbulb #4: Sustained input = sustained output

Just like your car needs to be continuously filled up with fuel to run at its optimum, it’s very much the same with us as human beings. We need consistent input, environment and care for us to really flourish. The talent I spoke about above has been really guided and molded by our youth workers Jomo, Sifiso, Nonte and Thobile, who are amazing, committed and big-hearted individuals. They’re in these kids lives every single week, having conversations with them on a big brother/sister basis and building trust and the type of relationships that change lives. The once a month visit I made to the school cannot come close to the change these young people are making through continually investing their time and energy. 

Sustained input really gives visible sustained output.

Lightbulb #5: Domino has well trained, capable and experienced staff – so empower them with resources to succeed

For a very long time I’ve been living in my ignorant bubble that success (at a corporate) means that the value I add everywhere is equal. For example, that any NPO would need my skills to succeed. This is NOT TRUE!  I was so pleasantly enlightened when I started working at Domino to see that they have all the right skills for the job, are just as committed and skilled as any corporate animal, but with a different purpose in mind. So if we have the right people in place we should really just give them the resources to execute their purpose exceptionally well.

How can we expect them to feed the hungry, educate our country’s kids and care for the needy if we don’t give them the resource to do it? I always thought that just donating money was an easy way out but now I see it (the donation) as an enabler for nonprofits to make the change we don’t have the time or skills to make. ( Lightbulb #4: sustained input = sustained output)

Lightbulb #6: Cost and value are not directly related

This phrase has been floating around for the last few months at The Domino Foundation, about how the price of something simply can’t be equated to what value it brings. For example, one 5 minute conversation (at no Cost to you) can lead to a donation of 100kg’s of soap powder which has a value of 4 months’ worth of clean linen and clothes for our babies in our Babies home.

Or, one 30 second conversation and a person in my network spreading the word (at no cost you or them) can lead to 4 brand new single beds to help out 4 families in need after the floods, which has a value of keeping them off sleeping on a cold damp floor so that they’re able to go to work every day.

So what it costs us to just have conversations and spot opportunities can NEVER translate into the value it can bring to someone else in need. The cost is small but the value is HUGE!

Lightbulb #7: People want to help so give them the opportunity to do so

I’ve been amazed at how gracious all my colleagues at work and my friends have been and how they’ve all given in their own way. Whether it is funding for one of our Girls’ Club sessions or coming to help at Amaoti and pushing aside fears of going into unfamiliar territory – I’ve not once had to beg for the support. Sometimes people just need the opportunity and the giving just overflows.

Lightbulb #8: People need leadership to give sustainably and in the right way.

If the giving is so easy for people then why does it not happen all the time? I now realise that just like anything else, like a personal trainer at gym or a leader of the mom’s group, you still need someone to take up the reigns, give direction and impart knowledge to make sure we give continuously and in the right way. This doesn’t take a huge amount of leadership, skill or cost – just a bit of time, some guts to ask questions and the desire to make a difference. The reward is immeasurable. (See Lightbulb #6: Cost vs Value)

Lightbulb #9: Be connected on both ends

Spending time at Domino was completely different than I originally imagined. I thought I would be out in the field grinding it out but I ended up spending more time in the office sitting in the middle of the NPO cog and listening to conversations and sometimes adding my 2 cents. Hearing the needs inside Domino and being able to respond to relevant opportunities outside Domino to immediately fill their needs helped me understand the organisation so much more. When you have a foot in both worlds magic truly happens. Gold comes from conversations and it’s turned into uplifted lives.

Lightbulb #10: Purpose = drive, motivation, energy, determination, guts & tenacity, which leads to LIFE

I honestly didn’t think I would be going back to my corporate job but I have a new purpose in mind, a new understanding of what opportunity sits within corporate to support NGOs and a salary which can be used to fund and empower these amazing people and the value it can bring to uplift others. I can’t wait to have more conversations, inspire others to think just one step further with what they have, see how corporate can truly support NPO and be a part of a team that I can be proud to say cares about the world and its people. 

Here’s to a lifetime of creating brighter futures!

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New season, new roles

With a new season comes new leadership. As the Domino Foundation increases its capacity to reach more communities there have been some internal shifts to ensure that the hands who do this work are passionate, skilled and ready to impact lives.

At the beginning of the year Mickey Wilkins stepped down as CEO of the Domino Foundation. After twelve incredible years of leading the non-profit Mickey has now decided to look after the sustainability of Domino and has started Domino Business. As of February 2016 the Domino Foundation welcomed in a new CEO, Richard Mun-Gavin, lead pastor of Cogs Church. Not only does Richard bring a wealth of pastoral experience but his passion for people means he’s more than ready to take Domino into a new season of growth.

Shaun Tait has officially moved into the role of  COO and is overseeing the day to day operations of all the programmes and its staff. Although a tall task Shaun has slid into his role with effort and ease.

After heading up the ECD team since its inception Toni Wilkins has decided to focus her attentions on the Life Skills programme and counselling at the Door of Hope Counselling Centre. The team is now been led by the capable Jessica King, who moved over from donor relations. Jessica is more than qualified for the position and brings her unique learnings from her studies, a Bachelor of Social Science in Organisational Psychology and Industrial Sociology and a Foundation Phase Teaching qualification and is currently Clinical Psychology. Jessica also handles the Domino volunteers.

And in the feeding programme Cathy Whittle has taken over the reigns as Programme Manager. Cathy comes from the cooking industry and has the heaps of experience needed to steer the many Domino feeding projects in the right direction. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s our Sandwich Kitchen, Soup Kitchen and Relief Kitchen. Past Project Manager, Brenda Scheepers has moved onto an exciting venture with Domino Business, which you can read more about here.

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Stories from the classroom: Life Skills Effects 1st Quarter 2016

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We believe in developing the personal and social well being of the 800 children we mentor through our Life Skills lessons and after school clubs. For many years our life skills workers have been helped these young learners’ develop positive self esteem and realise the immense value they carry – and that they can change their world!

  • Time and time again our mentors see the importance of having an open and engaging platform for learners to talk through tough topics. Either parents are too busy or the school is viewed as being responsible for bringing up the children; leaving complicated topics like puberty, relationships and friendships without any discussion. In order for them to develop as adults, learners need to have the opportunity to reflect, discuss and act, an opportunity the life skills class provides.
  • The Boys and Girls Club provides a safe and fun space for learners to explore creative and sporting interests. The four schools the Life Skills Project works into don’t always have the resources to offer stimulating afternoon activities, so our clubs facilitate sessions on soccer, aerobics and medical talks. We’re all about creating a well-rounded learner!
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