Founded in 2011, we had a very specific goal in mind: to create better opportunities for children in the farming community. This being a rural area with limited access to basic facilities, we decided to intervene.
- Pre-school children are the most vulnerable. Their parents often work full time and they are left with family members who cannot give them the basic pre-school stimulation needed.
- Children reach school age without the necessary level of emotional and/or physical development and never catch up.
- Very few children from this community complete or even attend secondary school.
2011 to 2013 can best be described as a process of trial and error! Several projects did not succeed even though they clearly tackled a serious need.
- We managed a swop shop to provide children with useful and educational items in exchange for recyclables
- We often arranged outings for inspiration and motivation
- We started a cross-country club for physical development
The participation of children was great, yet projects had a “charity” flavour to them and too few adult community members were involved. This was not conducive to sustainable development and transformation.
The Early Childhood Education Centre opened its doors in February 2014 with a re-formulated goal: to assist and empower the community to work together and to tackle personal problems head-on instead of relying on initiatives from third parties. These initiatives often include a culture of hand-outs that does not encourage people to take ownership.
The educators-in-training are ladies from the farming community, most of whom had been unemployed before joining the programme. They are our agents of change that open pathways to other projects.
A dynamic, developing community who accepts ownership for a future filled with hope.
Community transformation in the Paardeberg through education, empowerment and exploration:
Early Childhood Development Centre and educational activities with the primary school children.
Training for educators and parents so that they can guide and empower children and become the agents of change in the community.
Outings, events and camps that help children and other community members to develop self-assurance and a more positive personal vision.
Over the past 9 years we have been allowed to use different spaces in existing buildings on farms and at the local primary school to run activities. This enabled us to use all donations and funds for programmes and the minimum was spent on infrastructure and maintenance.
Some activities had to be called off when we lost access to a specific space and not having an own “address” is now hindering progress.
We have obtained permission for rezoning of a piece of agricultural land on the farm Jakkalsfontein and transfer of property took place in January 2020. We would like to construct a community centre dedicated to education – including an ECD centre, library and multi-functional spaces that can be used for different incentives and courses that will be accessible to primary school children and adults as well.
This will be an important step forward and we are aware of the fact that when it comes to community development, you can overplay your hand if you attach too much importance to building structures without making sure that the community is ready for this step. Therefore our core focus this year is to verify our root system: has our team and our community reached a stage where they take enough ownership for the dreams they have in order to step up? Is our activity sustainable enough? Are we interpreting the key needs and strengths of this community correctly?
We also need to rethink funding and work on a philosophy as far as sustainable buildings are concerned, since the Swartland is dry and sunny and we need to learn to respect resources such as water and power, to mention but two. Exciting and daunting times – if you would like to help us reach this dream, contact us and/or pray with us for the right decisions by the right people at the right time!