ECD

Feeding in Famine and for the Future

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 feeding@domino.org.za  or 031 563 9605)

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The BIG picture

We thought it would be super helpful to put all our programmes into a one page “big picture format” for you, to make it easy to identify with our common values and purpose and how each programme interconnects with the other.

The aim is to reduce vulnerability step by step in a beneficiary’s life creating a positive #DominoEffect from Cradle to Career, an beyond!

There are three additional safety net interventions for added support of Human Rights, Disaster Management and protecting the Environment.

We hope this inspires you, as your impact plays it part in this story!

The Domino Programme Infograph

The interconnected #DominoEffect reducing vulnerability from Cradle to Career with additional Safety Net interventions in support!

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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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2016: What a year!

This year has been a time of exponential growth, tough challenges, our faith been tested and of course, many lives been changed. In 2016 alone we’ve been able to impact the lives of over 5000 individuals on a daily basis. During our journey we’ve seen 3 key areas being highlighted:


1. Increasing our areas of influence

A big cause for celebration has been The Domino Foundation moving from being a North Durban NPO to a nationwide NPO.

We’re excited to announce that The Domino Foundation’s areas of influence now include: Waterloo, Oshebni, Amanzimtoti, Inner city Durban and Cape Town. We’ve also continued to strengthen our existing relationships with donors, volunteers, NPOS and governmental departments like the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Social Development and the National Prosecuting Authority.


2.Partnering with local churches

We have loved partnering with other churches to outwork their social justice initiatives.

This year we’ve partnered with Glenridge (Durban Inner City) and The Rock (Umhlanga) through the outworking of the Red light Anti-Human Trafficking programme; Life Changers (Tableview, Cape Town) for the Recycle Swop Shop and Kingsway Church International (Amanzimtoti) to open another sandwich kitchen. As we’ve been able to share our experience, skills, knowledge and feeding expertise we’ve seen an incredible growth in the Amanzimtoti Sandwich Kitchen. In just eight months the kitchen has grown to preparing 660 sandwiches a week – an incredible growth rate!


3.Beneficiary Impact

We started the year with four programmes and expanded to seven community transformational initiatives.

Babies’ Homes – We provided a loving, family environment for 15 children in our two transitional homes with 6 babies being adopted into their ‘forever homes’.

Life Skills Programme– We worked with 4 under-resourced primary schools and 726 children on a weekly basis through lessons, one-on-one counselling sessions and after school activities – all aiming to empower learners to make wise life choices.

ECD Programme– We started the year upskilling and transforming 23 crèches into sustainable small businesses and places of active learning and increased to 44 establishments by year-end. Our work in the ECD space ensures that over children are receiving quality foundation-phase development throughout KZN.

Feeding Programme– We opened an additional kitchen to feed the south Durban basin, as well as added an additional 17 establishments (a combination of crèches/kindergartens and primary schools) to our feeding programme across KZN. By the year-end we were feeding a total of 55 establishments and averaging an incredible 98 000 meals a month!

Red light Anti-Human Trafficking – This programme joined Domino in 2016 and in 2017 we look forward to welcoming 8 ladies into our programme where they’ll be assisted, cared for, restored and released.

Recycle Swop Shops – The social justice and environmental programme joined Domino in 2016 with three swop shops operating in the Western Cape.

Bursary Programme – In 2017 the programme will fund 5 students’ tertiary education, giving them the opportunity to build themselves a future through education.


Thanks to donors and volunteers, your support has enabled us to continue changing thousands of lives through showing mercy, combatting injustice and empowering individuals throughout our beautiful country of South Africa. If you would like to partner with us for 2017 please let us know.


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Stories from the crèche: 3rd Quarter 2016

We dream of seeing active learning taking place in crèches around South Africa, where Early Childhood Development centers are not just a baby-sitting service but a place for young children to learn, develop and grow.

For the past three years, we’ve been working tirelessly into 23 crèches in Amaoti through empowering ECD center educators and owners with essential education and enterprise skills. There have been great successes and as we prepare to slowly step away from them we look back at the programme through the eyes of our ECD mentors.

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“Firstly, I would like to say it is a privilege and honour to serve the Amaoti community through ECD. Working with little ones gives me the reason to serve God to the fullest. Through The Domino Foundation I’m now a qualified ECD educator with ECD NQF level 4 and am able to assist and mentor ECD teachers in the community to implement active learning in their ECD centers. I have seen a lot of improvement in the crèches we’re working with, with some being registered with the Department of Social Welfare, some in the process of registering. For all the crèches we’re working with I see active learning taking place.”

Zanele Gumede

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“ECD in Amaoti has been a very exciting experience for me. It has shown me the potential I have to influence the people around me to take education seriously from a young age. There has been transformation in the teachers and it has improved the children’s skills and learning abilities. Active learning now takes place in many of the crèches and teachers are passionate about teaching learners and developing them in all areas.

In the last year, there have been some exciting developments. Two of our crèches have undergone registration and are well on their way to registration – which has been one of our main objectives. One of the crèches also had a challenge where they had to close down due to another day care operating nearby causing many learners to leave. By God’s grace they decided to operate in a different area and have managed to continue working in their church building and now have a larger amount of school learners.”

Nauleen Luthuli

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To continue positively impacting the ECD programme we’re looking for these items:

  • learning resources for ages between 0-6 years (skipping ropes, puzzles, play dough, stencils, big lego blocks)
  • bright, funky material for our bean bag project (squares of 16cm x 16cm can even pre-cut)
  • Stationary (fat kokis, crayons, powder paints, colouring books/ pages, paper, chalk)
  • scrap paper collections (children can draw on the back of them)
  • nappies, wet wipes, toilet paper
  • cleaning materials to wash floors, tables/chairs, dishes etc.
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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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ECD Effects 4th Quarter 2015

Early Childhood Development 4th Quarter 2015

“Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future.”

These great words from Nelson Mandela inspire the Domino Foundation’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme, an initiative that hopes to empower unequipped and under-resourced ECD centres to build a stronger foundation for young learners.

One of South Africa’s greatest education challenges is access to quality learning from a young age and even those that do go to foundation phase learning are often scared by the social ills of a broken community. The Amaoti area is marked by poverty and child-headed households and the reality is that what’s happening at home affects the school day – making teaching difficult and requiring teachers to double up as counsellors too.

The Domino Foundation’s ECD team walks alongside 16 ECD centre owners, monitoring the crèches weekly. Educational and enterprise assistance is provided to help meet the nutritional, cognitive, social, behavioural and educational needs of children in their formative years.

Even though the programme has been implemented for a few years it has been a joy to see the suggested improvements being cemented in centres’ routine. All the crèches now teach the same themes and work in tandem together, whereas before the teachers worked in silos isolating themselves from peers. Through the guidance of Unlimited Child and the continued support of the Domino Foundation’s crèche mentors, crèche owners and teachers are empowered to not just care for the children but actually teach them too.

The Sibaya Community Trust have generously funded the programme for the past three years and have been so encouraged by the improvements in the crèches that Domino works into that they are extending funding to cover 15 more crèches in the Waterloo area. Crèche assessments have already been well under way as life skills workers rate the Waterloo crèches on their standing on the registration process, their hygiene, teaching methods and infrastructure.

As a thank you for the teachers’ selfless dedication the Domino Foundation threw an awards ceremony for the crèche owners and teachers complete with holidays hampers and gifts to acknowledge them for what they have done.

The ECD team is excited to unroll what they have set up this year; a season they feel is full of promises and miracles. 2015 has been a year of strengthening and laying the foundations to make an even bigger impact on vulnerable children in the Amaoti community in 2016. As God opens doors into government the team prays for the completion of all the crèche registrations, an accomplishment that brings life and security to the creches and a stepping-stone to a brighter future for our children.

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ECD Effects June/July 2015

The Early Childhood Development programme focuses on empowering ECD centre educators and owners with essential education and enterprise skills. Since it’s launch in 2011 the programme has impacted 32 crèches in the Amaoti area in rural KwaZulu-Natal, assisting in making ECD centres sustainable businesses in the process making a lasting economic and educational impact in the community.Sixteen of the creches are funded the Bright Start Programme, a Sibaya Community Trust initiative that invests in education.

We have witnessed many success stories throughout the years, classrooms have been built and beautified, owners have learnt business and teaching skills and kids have quality classes. To ensure that the little learners can absorb the quality education they’re fed nutritious meals everyday through the Domino Foundation’s feeding programme.

Primrose Gcabashe is the crèche owners of Thembelihle Crèche and is exceptionally proud of her new crèche built through the funds available through the programme. She believes the programme has empowered her run to an effective business as well as provide quality education saying, “I don’t feel so alone, I feel supported and encouraged and now I have a beautiful crèchethat I can teach the children in.”

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ECD Effects May

With a vision to improve the quality of learning and preparation for school readiness our Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres benefit vulnerable children.

An exciting development has been the addition of a research and evaluation component to the feeding of our crèches. All of the children from our crèches receive highly nutritious JAM SA porridge and recently underwent a nutritional assessment by the NPO to assess whether they’re underweight or overweight. The assessment measured the weight, height and upper arm width and will help create a baseline assessment to compare from in six months time to see if there has been any improvement.

The 50 gram portion of JAM porridge provides children with 75% of their daily micro-nutrient requirements. The porridge, known as CSS+ (Corn Soya Sugar Blend) consists of 65% corn, 25% soya, 10% sugar and fortified with micro- and macro-nutrients.

Our ECD programme also partners with The Unlimited Child, an NPO that provides educational toys, training and on-going support to caregivers. Our crèche owners have thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from their training with The Unlimited Child and NELRU and the changes have been seen in the classrooms. Children are no longer just sitting on the floor but engaging with their learning environment- painting, playing with play dough and playing with theme tables.

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Bright Beginnings for Back2School!

Traditional zulu dances in celebration

The children at an Amaoti  crèche had a bright start to the school year when Integra Scores, a BBBEE verification agency, threw them a party with all the delicious treats that children love as well as a generous donation of stationery to the value of R5 000.00. The children performed a Nativity Play and traditional Zulu songs and dances to express their appreciation – a fitting finale to a fun-filled occasion. And long after the taste of the party-fare has faded, these children will be enjoying the educational benefits of colouring-in books, paints, pencils, erasers, story-books, crayons, balls, play dough, and scissors – all the tools  needed to equip them for the challenges of ‘big school’.

Integra Scores approached Durban North-based NPO Indlela at the end of last year with a view fo throwing a Christmas party for children in the Amaoti community. As numerous parties had already been organised, it was suggested that they consider sponsoring a ‘Back2School’ party in the new year for a crèche that falls under Indlela’s ‘Bright Beginnings’ programme. Indlela’s crèche development programme is aimed at helping to prepare young children in needy communities for a brighter future through improved nutrition, early childhood education, and by upgrading the physical environment of the crèches.

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