life skills

Eyes Right!

The two words defined the day for 116 pupils at Ekuthuleni Primary School, Ntuzuma. “Eyes Right!” wasn’t a military command to the “troops” lined waiting for the team from the African Eye Institute (AEI).  Rather they were what would mark the day as a turning point in their educational journey. The eager young crowd were there to receive their new spectacles prescribed after the children’s screening as part of AEI’s OSaaT (One School at a Time) project.

Non-profit AEI works to reduce avoidable blindness and vision impairment caused by refractive errors and other eye deficiencies and, through donations and partnerships, supports free, quality eye health services to marginalised communities, particularly schoolchildren and the elderly.

Thobile Msani, head of The Domino Foundation’s Life Skills programme, talked about how the children’s lives would be impacted by their clearer vision of the world around them: “A lot of these learners have many challenges which have negative effects on their ability to really benefit from their schooling. Not being able to see clearly in class makes everything far more difficult. Children with poor eyesight find it harder to identify and interpret what they are seeing which creates difficulties in much of their education.” She explained that the spectacles not only mean the children can now see the board at the front of the class more clearly and how better vision helps learners’ brains take in, organise and interpret information. Some children have close-up vision deficiencies which can affect hand-eye coordination and delay reading and language skills development. Social and physical development can also suffer.

AEI’s Head of Programmes, Nad Ramsarup, described how his organisation has been providing free vision screening to hundreds of underprivileged schoolchildren in KZN and other provinces: “We don’t only provide spectacles but also refer some children to hospitals if further intervention is needed.” He said that 121 Ekuthuleni pupils had been identified for extra care and treatment for vision problems.

The OSaaT programme’s large-scale school screenings would not be possible without its sponsoring partners: Berkeley Vision, CooperVision, OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation, Transitions, Optometry Giving Sight, and Peek Vision.

Nad can be contacted at nad@aei.org.za for more information on AEI’s OSaaT (One School at a Time) project.

Caption:

Pic 1: AEI’s Kesi Naidoo shares in Mratiwa Moloi’s delight as the world comes into focus at the fitting of spectacles at Ekuthuleni Primary School.

Pic 2: Grade 1 pupil at Ekuthuleni Primary School, Xola Magikane, is delighted as the world comes into focus after he received spectacles through the African Eye Institute.

Thank you to our community media partners for your support

https://www.citizen.co.za/north-glen-news/news-headlines/local-news/2024/02/07/durban-north-organisation-helps-learners-look-to-a-brighter-future/

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Matrics Taking Care Of Matrics

Burning the midnight oil, last-minute cramming, hopes and dreams for their futures on the line… almost a million candidates across South Africa began writing their Matric on 30 October. Knowing the pressures they are all under, the Grade 12s in four Ethekwini high schools enthusiastically reached out to their peers in less well-resourced schools, as part of The Domino Foundation’s ‘Matric Camp Campaign’.

Cathy Whittle, leader of Domino’s Nutrition and Disaster Relief programmes has been working with Manyoni Game Reserve and the Zululand Conservation Trust (ZCT) since the severe flooding in local Zululand communities over recent years: “It began in partnership with SARLA, (South African Rugby Legends) and SA Harvest distributing food and hygiene supplies to hard-hit communities around the reserve. As the the last line of defense between the poachers and protected animals, the communities’ wellbeing is critical.” Nurturing symbiotic relationships with the communities and investing in local education through nutrition and infrastructure (boreholes and solar) is vital so education and human capital impact is improved. The reserve also benefits the community as a future employer and as a customer purchasing community-grown vegetables for the lodge kitchens, and Zulu handcrafts for the lodge’s retail spaces.

One ongoing project is the Matric camps set up at schools three weeks before the final exams. As many students live in crowded homes with no quiet spaces for study, the camps provide disturbance-free areas where students learn together, receive extra lessons, and get 3 meals a day with a meat donation from Manyoni. The ZCT funds cooks, extra teachers, security guards, and donates mattresses.

This was where the quartet of Durban schools came in: Northwood, Northlands, Clifton and Danville responded to the call Cathy called ‘Matrics taking care of Matrics’. “Each Matric was asked to donate two products (long-life milk, sugar, deodorant, rusks, tea or coffee). We were overwhelmed by the response. The donations went to 3 schools: Senzokuhle Secondary School and Mandlakazi High School on the borders of Manyoni Reserve, Jozini, and Amaoti 3 High School in Brookdale, Phoenix.”

Cathy described the matric camps’ success over the past four years: “Senzokuhle and Mandlakazi have seen their pass-rates rocket from 22% to 83%, whilst other participating schools have also seen similar significant improvement in their pass-rates. Encouraged by the outstanding response of Grade 12s both North and South of the Umgeni, Cathy declared her intention of getting more schools on board in 2024: “We plan to start the appeal in term 3 next year so we can support more Matric students in the area. Our partners have the vision to install boreholes and solar power and grow the local educational upgrade. We see great opportunities for Domino’s skills development programme to share what it has developed so the matriculants can move into their futures with hope and direction.”

She invited anyone interested in having more information on how to be involved to contact her 031 110 0730 or nutrition@domino.org.za

And the years before that too

https://www.citizen.co.za/south-coast-sun/news-headlines/2020/11/02/domino-foundation-feed-matrics-ahead-of-finals/

https://m.facebook.com/thedominofoundation/photos/a.569262159777599/5766078656762564/?type=3

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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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Give Youth Life Skills

“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!

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Medical Students Impact Matrics

With its express purpose of empowering school learners to make wise life-choices, The Domino Foundation’s Life Skills programme was delighted to have four UKZN medical students tutoring the Grade 12 learners at Amaoti 3 Combined. Working together with the school’s Principal, Mrs Maphumulo, and Physical Science teacher, Mr Majiya, the four university students, (Gift Machabe, Ayanda Nkosi, Sinethemba Mgolombane and Siyethemba Zwane) gave sixteen hours of Maths and Science coaching to the Amaoti learners on Saturday mornings. During this time, the medical students also facilitated an HIV/AIDS awareness workshop. Thanking them, Mr Majiya said, “Our students owe much of their success in their exams to your input”.

The Domino Foundation Life Skills programme reaches primary school children in the early teenage years in the Amaoti community. We believe that behaviour change is best effected through long-term relationships with learners in the formative phase of their lives. We impact a number of schools and reach children between the ages of 6 and 17 years. Our vision is to empower learners to make wise life choices, instilling in them a sense of self-worth and purpose and offering them hope for the future.

The Life Skills Programme comprises a four year HIV/AIDS prevention programme which runs at primary schools as part of the Life Orientation lesson. The project goal is to impact the lives of children who are vulnerable and under threat of HIV/AIDS. Work is done with children from 9-13 years assisting with their physical, cognitive, emotional and relational support and development.

The Domino Foundation Life Skills programme is dependent on both corporate and individual financial donors, on non-financial donors and on volunteers. If you would like more information, please contact Leigh-Ann Stevens (leigh-ann@domino.org.za) or 0315639605

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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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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 classroom: 3rd Quarter 2016

As a teenager, it’s crucial to continually hear words of affirmation. Phrases like: you’re special, irreplaceable and unique. A large part of the Domino Foundation’s Life Skills lessons cover these values that help build self-esteem and raise leaders.

Recently, the Grade 6 girls from Zakele Primary School were treated to an uplifting day called “Fire and Grace” at COGS Church. This gentle time on a Saturday morning was an opportunity for learners to hear encouraging words, enjoy some fun sessions learning etiquette and enjoy some tea and scones.

A big thanks to Cox Yeats Attorneys for generously donating Subz Washable Pads and panties to the Grade 6 Girls at Zakele Primary School. They welcomed twenty learners into their Umhlanaga Ridge offices to enjoy some delicious treats and listen to a talk on adolescence led by a Domino Foundation Life Skills mentor. Cox Yeats Attorneys also shared their own career journey with the learners, introducing new careers and inspiring the learners to think beyond high school. Not only was the afternoon a wonderful time of sisterhood and bonding but it was a valuable opportunity to answer any misconceptions surrounding becoming a woman.

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The Girls Club has been busy this past term with a number of fun and educational events including a DIY day making ‘lock boxes from cardboard and gift paper and a Hygiene Day presented by two experts, Kathy (Dental Hygienist) and Thabani (Hair Stylist at Unilever). Kathy was amazing and showed the girls how to really look after their teeth and Thabani wowed everyone on his knowledge about Afro hair and how to care for it. The learners loved their hygiene packs (soap, loofahs, deodorants, shower gels) and toothbrushes and Colgate kits that were handed out too.

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The Life Skills team is always looking for gifts to add to gift bags for the Girls and Boys Club or Life Skills learners. In particular, the Boys Club is looking for soccer balls. If you can donate useful products please email us!

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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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Stories from the classroom: 2nd Quarter 2016

Life orientation, for all South African school learners, is the only platform from which learners can acquire life skills, democracy skills and vital knowledge about our diverse country and the world.* It’s a safe and engaging place where leaners can be taught how to make motivated life choices.

Which is why the Domino Foundation has a whole programme dedicated to educating learners about themselves, their identity and their role in greater society. For the past few years the programme has worked into three schools in Amaoti and helped hundreds of learners navigate these tricky issues. At the recent AGM it became clear that these life skills lessons were making a difference in individuals lives – they were equipping learners with knowledge about themselves and empowering them with the skills to lead a successful life.

They say you have to see it to believe, well here is a video of some of our learners from the Life Skills Programme sharing their views on how the programme has changed their lives.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8RcYVqJxeg&w=560&h=315]

*http://www.ngopulse.org/article/2016/06/02/preparing-learners-future

 

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