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SA’s First Lady applauds initiatives addressing ‘heart-breaking’ fate of kids with no access to early childhood care

Dr Tshepo Motsepe to oversee graduation of caregivers at home-based crèches

On 24 July South Africa’s First Lady, Dr Tshepo Motsepe  hosted a joyful celebration in Pretoria when ninety (90) women received recognition for completing a course that’s designed to directly address the crisis in early childhood care and education in South Africa. Dr Motsepe was joined by a special guest, Madam Peng Liyuan, the First Lady of The People’s Republic of China.

Dr Motsepe is the chairperson of ASHA Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that provides Early Childhood Development support programmes for home-based crèches in disadvantaged communities. ASHA provides professional support programmes, which benefit over 30 000 preschool children that attend over 600 community and home-based crèches in townships in four provinces.

Spur Corporation’s Full Tummy Fund (previously known as the Spur Foundation) has been supporting ASHA Trust since 2014 and to date has invested more than R1 million in various training programmes, benefitting principals and teachers at 19 informal crèches. This month the Full Tummy Fund will increase its support and add an additional 20 crèches to participate in training programmes facilitated by the ASHA Trust.

The ASHA Trust works in the poorest communities where most households have insufficient resources to meet the nutrition and educational needs of young children. Informal, home-based crèches provide a vital service to these communities but are themselves extremely under-resourced. The caregivers are largely untrained in the prerequisite skills and knowledge for effective child development.

ASHA Trust was created with the sole purpose of making a difference in these children and their carers’ lives; ensuring that during their first 1000 days children receive adequate nutrition and stimulation to support their physical and cognitive development,” says Dr, Motsepe. “In the poorest communities where children are most vulnerable, informal, home-based crèches play a crucial role. Any meaningful response to the ECD challenges facing South Africa must take this reality into account.”

In daycare centres where principals have received training and support, there have been remarkable improvements. Children are more school ready and perform better in Grade R and Grade 1 as a result. Assistance from the Full Tummy Fund has enabled many of these schools to add classrooms, to do renovations and upgrade facilities such as bathrooms, toilets and sick bays. Some of the daycare centres are now registered with the Department of Social Development and are receiving grants that enable them to increase staff salaries as well as the number of staff.

The parents or guardians of these children also benefit from programmes as they are freed up to go out to work or seek employment in the knowledge their children are receiving quality education, in a safe and secure environment, and receiving a nutritious daily meal.

“I started my training with ASHA Trust in 2015 and they have helped me a lot.  The training helped develop me as a business owner; it taught me how to manage my centre, how to do the finances and how to create the programmes for the children in my care.  Since I started my training I have registered Owethu Day Care Centre with the Department of Social Development and opened a second Day Care Centre in Alexandra.  I opened Owethu Day Care Centre because I wanted to help the children and the parents who wanted to work but had no one to look after their children.  When I opened in 2010 I only had six (6) children but today Owethu Day Care looks after 92 children and 24 children at my new centre.  Growing and opening a new centre means I am creating jobs in my community and I plan on opening a Grade R class and Aftercare Centre where I can cook for needy children and the elderly.

I want to thank the Full Tummy Fund for coming into my life and for all they have done for us.  On behalf of all the ladies, we truly appreciate what you have done for us, because now we are family, we are friends who support each other.”  Emily Mahlobo, Owner and Principal of Owethu Day Care Centre.

The Full Tummy Fund aims to aid children’s development during the first six years. Over the past five years, donations from the Full Tummy Fund totalling more than R1 million have enabled the ASHA Trust to make a very real difference in the lives of vulnerable young children and the people who look after them.

“Our partnership with ASHA Trust has been very successful and one we are exceptionally proud of.  To witness the dedication, passion and hard work these nineteen Principals have put into their training, the centres they run and the children in their care has been remarkable.  We feel privileged to have walked this journey with them, to see them grow from strength to strength; see the impact they have made, not only on the children but also in their communities.  Today we feel like proud parents as we celebrate their graduation” Tara Theron, Full Tummy Fund Manager.

 

* The general public can support the amazing work of the Full Tummy Fund by purchasing a Feel Good Meal on various kids menus at a Spur, Panarottis and John Dory’s. For every meal bought, R2 is donated to the Full Tummy Fund. For every child that enjoys a Feel Good Meal, another child gets access to proper nutrition and a better chance to excel.