Learning For Life

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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Student Social Workers at Indlela

Students making cupcakes

This term Indlela has had the privilege of helping 2 social work students complete their honours at the schools on our INDLELA Learning for Life programme.

Natalie Ogden sheds some light on her experiences, as she spent time at Amaoti 3 combined school, helping and assisting the girls to overcome certain obstacles and situations, while gaining a valuable understanding of life in a community and even herself.

My first day at Amaoti 3 School was very eye-opening. As a student social worker you are expected to do pre-group interviews and select a handful of pupils which you feel will benefit from group work counselling. After my first day I felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of needs that these pupils have. It was decided that I would work with the female grade 11 pupils who have a high pregnancy rate at the school. As a student social worker you are left with so many value dilemma’s in realising that a whole generation of children are faced with the harsh reality of teenage pregnancy and other youth related decisions. So many of the pupils are orphans, have more than one child and some were pregnant at the time of the interviews. How do you decide who should benefit from a 12 week counselling group workshop and who does not…. The need is so overwhelming, but we serve a God that knows each and every one of these girls and after three weeks of interviews, I selected my 9 girls and we began the process.

Students participating in Natalie’s counselling workshop

Social work for those of you that don’t know, is more than counselling and trying to fix perceived problems. As a student you are learning about yourself, about how organisations work and in my case…how group work actually happens in reality.  Here is this young, white female in the middle of the Amaoti community thinking that she can make a difference and realises that social work is more about getting down on your knees and digging in the dirt looking for diamonds that others can’t see. The world sees a generation of pregnant teenagers… I see a generation of woman who need to learn to shine and be who God called them to be.

I walked away on the 1st June 2012 having done our last session, there were mixed emotions of happiness in seeing how much the girls had grown and the strength they gathered from one another through support and trust. I was also sad at knowing that I had done what I had come to do, that I needed to trust in the seeds that were planted and that the students had the ability to be the difference they spoke about in the sessions.

There is a generation of children in the community of Amaoti who are orphans and many are facing hardship and indescribable pain… But they are strong, they are survivors and I know that with an organisation like Indlela who is prepared to dig in the dirt and make a difference… This generation is one that will not be left behind. Thank you Indlela staff for showing me that social work is in the heart and that a community is stronger than any perceived need. Together we can make a difference and you don’t need to be a social worker to get dirty and make a difference.

UNISA Social Work Students: Hlengiwe Thusi & Natalie Ogden

Farewell Party treats as the girls decorate cupcakes to show their lives and what they have learnt

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Holiday of Hope

For most of us, holidays play a prominent part in our childhood memories, familiar destinations for an enjoyable meander down memory lane. But there are many children who do not have the luxury of holidays and who will have no fond memories to recall in later years.

Last term, Indlela took members of the Amaoti 3 Girls’ Club to Hibberdene Children’s Holiday Home on KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast for a memorable night away, for many their first experience of a holiday away from home. The Girl’s and Boys’ Clubs aim to provide pupils with constructive and creative after-school activities as a positive alternative to the risky behaviour that is common to unoccupied adolescents.

A bus packed with young girls, youth workers from Indlela’s Learning For Life programme, and staff set off from Amaoti to the accompaniment of singing, laughter and a buzz of excited conversation. On arriving at their destination, the girls were allocated beds and divided into teams. A programme of fun team-building activities kicked-off with some of the girls venturing into the ocean for the first time. The evening was spent watching movies, chatting and strengthening friendships. The next morning, the girls enjoyed a walk along the beautiful beach and a refreshing swim before tackling more team-building projects.

It wasn’t a five-star hotel in an exotic foreign location, but for some of the girls it offered the unusual luxury of having a bed to themselves, instead of having to share with at least one sibling. In accordance with Zulu culture, these young girls usually go home after school and start a round of household chores. For once, they were free from such responsibilities and encouraged to experience new and exciting activities. They certainly returned home with a fund of memories to remember fondly in weeks to come.

Girls Enjoying having their 'own' bed

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Winter Warmth Comes To Amaoti

Rotaract Members & Children at Zwakele School with new blankets

“As Rotaract Club of Durban we have worked closely with the Winter Warmth project run by ECR, Hub and Rotary in previous years. So when applications were due for this year’s allocation of blankets – we did not hesitate to apply. We were allocated 400 blankets of which we have used as numerous charities. We believe in truly searching for those who are in dire situations.”

This is when the Rotaract Club of Durban decided to team up with Durban north based NPO, Indlela. Through the Learning For Life programme, a HIV/AIDS prevention programme, a number of Learners have been identified as OVC (Orphaned and Vulnerable Children). Being orphaned and vulnerable, these children either have no parents, are living in child headed households or with gogo’s or neighbours. Being a cold winter, Indlela and The Rotaract Club of Durban, stepped in to assist these children in need, distributing blankets to the Children at Zwakele Primary, in Amaoti.

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KPMG Counts the Costs of Charity

L-R: Toni Wilkins (Indlela LFL Project Leader), Sacha Rowley (KPMG) & Leigh-Ann Stevens (Indlela LFL Co-Ordinator)

The staff of KPMG Services were so inspired by the success of there decision to donate a portion of their 2010 year-end functions fund to Durban North-based NPO Indlela’s projects that they made a commitment to continue their fund-raising efforts this year. The result was a generous donation of baby books, toys, clothes, blankets, and tinned food to be distributed to the beneficiaries of Indlela’s community upliftment projects. The blankets and clothes were given out by Indlela’s Learning for Life  workers to orphaned and vulnerable children in a number of Amaoti schools, while the baby books and toys will be put to good use stimulating the developing minds of the children at creches that fall under the Indlela Creche Development programme. The donated food was distributed through the Food for Thought programme, bringing relief to the needy in the community.

Centuries ago, St Francis of Assissi said: ‘For it is in giving that we receive’ – the staff members of KPGM have discovered that the returns of charity far outweigh the costs.

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