Breaking Ground

Eighteen months ago, we shared a vision — to help a new community in rural South Africa provide much needed early childhood care and education services for young people facing adversity. In January 2012, we were able to open a temporary center in order to provide 20 children with the opportunity to learn, to play, and to grow. The temporary center quickly surpassed its very limited capacity and now has 38 children in a 400 square foot building.  And, there are still many more children in need. Over the last year and a half, we have been working to raise the funds to build a permanent early childhood care and education and community center for young people and their families.

Land for the new centerToday we are excited to announce that, with the generous support of many people, we are 85% of the way to our fundraising goal for the construction of the building, having raised more than $100,000! Over the last few months, we’ve also made great strides in the on-the-ground planning of the project. We’ve secured and registered a lovely plot of land for the building that has easy access to the main road and a beautiful view of the valley below.  An architect/contractor has been hired. He met with the Board of Siyabonga Creche and other community leaders and is working on the final design of the building. The building will include two huge classrooms, a kitchen facility for the preparation of nutritious meals, office space and meetings rooms, a large garden, a community center and library, and plenty of space to play.  On Monday, workers will arrive to start clearing the land and build a fence around the perimeter. Everything is now on track to break ground on the new building in July and open the  facility at the start of the next South African school year in January.

Particularly in areas that have been hard hit by the HIV epidemic, early childhood education and care programs help to offset the effects of disease and poverty by providing educational and emotional support and food supplementation for young children. This support not only meets the critical, immediate needs of young children but also helps prepare them for continuing their education and helps relieve the burden of care on families, allowing older siblings to return to school and caregivers to seek work. Further, strong and active early childhood facilities can serve as community centers around which other services, such as home-based care, educational programs for older children, and income-generation projects, can be organized. We envision our new building becoming just such a place for the community where we work.

As we move forward with the final stages of our capital campaign, we thought it was a perfect time to remind everyone why early childhood education and care programs are so critical for children and families faced with the impacts of the HIV pandemic and of a long history of poverty and unequal opportunities for employment, education, and social services.
Ten Reasons to Invest in Early Childhood Care and Education like those we support in rural South Africa (adapted from UNESCO).
Child at Siyabonga Creche 1. Early childhood care and education is a right, recognized by the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by 194 countries.
2. Early childhood care and education is crucial for nurturing healthy, strong bodies and minds and ensuring optimal wiring and functioning of a child’s brain.
3. Early childhood care and education can help create the defenses of peace in the minds of young children, and encourage values important for living together and sustainable development.
4. Early childhood care and education has a beneficial effect on school preparedness and later learning, and leads to higher school enrollment, particularly for girls.
5. Early childhood care and education yields higher investment returns than in any other levels of education.
6. Early childhood care and education provides childcare essential for supporting working parents and enabling older siblings’ schooling.
7. Early childhood care and education can lay the foundation for a transformative society, leading to the realization of gender equality.
8. Early childhood care and education levels the playing field by compensating for disadvantages in the family and reducing inequalities between rich and poor. It is thus a key component to breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty.
9. Early childhood care and education is fundamental and a foundational step to achieving other Education for All goals and Millennium Development Goals.
10. Early childhood care and education equips young people with the skills to improve their own lives and to be agents of change to create a brighter future.
Sisters at Siyabonga Creche
Your investment in this project, and in the young people we support, will give them the head start they need to improve their lives and  look forward to a better future.   Thanks for all of your support!!