Early Childhood Development
The first years of a child’s life form the foundation upon which they build their future. But millions of children in Cape Town’s township communities do not have access to quality early education. These preschools often struggle to create safe and conducive learning environments for children, due to a lack of access to funds and support. Problems can include unsafe structures, poor sanitation and untrained staff. Despite this, the need for preschools in these communities is immense, with some centres caring for hundreds of children every day.
Ikamva Labantu’s ECD programme works with established community preschools to train principals and practitioners in best-practice techniques and to support them with educational resources so that they can improve their offering. The training equips principals to better manage their preschool and become financially self-sufficient, while providing quality and age-appropriate education to the children in their care. Ikamva Labantu’s model preschool in Khayelitsha, Kwakhanya Educare, serves as a training facility where practitioners can gain practical experience and mentorship in the classroom.
Preschools are able to access a government grant by registering with The Department of Social Development (DSD). This grant is a critical stream of income for under resourced preschools, but it can be hard to access. Preschools have to comply with strict norms and standards set by the government in order to successfully register and receive their subsidy. Navigating this path towards registration, and maintaining a registered status, can be long, complex and financially demanding. Ikamva Labantu’s Registration Helpdesk was established in 2015 to assist principals and guide them through this process.
Children have a right to be safe and supported throughout their school years. Sadly, life in Cape Town’s townships doesn’t always allow for this. Most schools lack extracurricular activities and aftercare facilities, and many parents only return from work late. As a result, when the school day is over, children are often left to roam and play in the streets unsupervised. This time on the streets increases exposure to the dangers of violence, crime, gangsterism and drugs.
Many children fall victim to physical and sexual abuse in their communities, often by a family member or neighbour. This is exacerbated by high rates of alcoholism and substance abuse among parents and other adults. Growing up amid these circumstances can stifle a child’s ability to grow and thrive. Places of safety are essential in protecting children from the surrounding dangers and giving them a space to feel cared for and loved.
The Afternoon Angels programme was started by a group of 53 women from Cape Town’s townships as a response to this issue. These women have opened their homes to local children to provide a place of safety where they can receive a nutritious meal, emotional support, and a space to play in the afternoons. This is a preventative measure that keeps children away from the dangers of the streets and provides a warm, nurturing environment for them to feel safe, supported and free. The Afternoon Angels programme is a community initiative that Ikamva Labantu is proud to support.
Millions of older people in Cape Town’s townships are living in abject poverty and regularly experience isolation, abuse and neglect. This is exacerbated by weakened family ties, financial insecurity, limited mobility, and a lack of access to quality healthcare. Dire living conditions are the norm for many older people who live in neighbourhoods rife with crime and with limited access to basic services such as water, electricity and emergency services. Many are also unaware of their rights and lack the resources or information to seek help when they need it. Despite this, many older people still support large families on their pension of just R1,980 per month and are often the sole breadwinner in the household.
Together with community leaders, Ikamva Labantu has developed two community-based interventions that promote active ageing and allow older people to live with dignity.
Five days a week, hundreds of older people are provided transport to and from Ikamva Labantu’s Senior Clubs where they access a range of activities addressing health, nutrition, and cognitive stimulation. Importantly, they are able to be among their peers in a social environment, away from the stress and isolation of their homes. Ikamva Labantu senior members also have access to health and psychosocial support that the field workers provide.
The Umelwane Project
For an older person who is bedridden and alone, accessing help can be nearly impossible.
Ikamva Labantu’s home-based model provides an essential safety net to support both frail older people and their caregivers. The fieldworkers walk door-to-door throughout Cape Town’s townships, searching for older people in need of support. These fieldworkers are called Umelwanes, which means ‘neighbourhood friend’ in isiXhosa.
The Umelwane team, made up of fieldworkers, nurses and social workers, provides seniors with regular health check-ups, delivery of chronic medication, and assistance in getting to and from the clinic. In addition, Ikamva Labantu assists older people in accessing government grants that they are entitled to.
Crucially, Umelwanes offer emotional support for older people and educate them about their rights. This has given some older people the confidence to speak out about any abuse or injustice that they are facing.