Strife in vulnerable Eluxolweni: A chance to step up?

By Lizelle Henegan

Vulnerability is growing in impoverished Eluxolweni – a small Pearly Beach neighbourhood in the Overstrand. 

Young children and their families are going hungry and they are growing more desperate. Due to our longterm investment in and care for the wellbeing of the community, as Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT) we are re-evaluating our service methods and delivery, as well as our impact in an ever-shifting landscape.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust dropped off food parcels in Eluxolweni, Pearly Beach on Thursday 23 April. The funds were raised through an appeal coordinated by the Trust. Flower Valley’s Kieran Whitley delivered the parcels from door-to-door to 64 families. 

Our ECD Programme Manager, Gabrielle Jonker, shares some personal words on how within the deep inequalities, strained today to a critical point, we can consider our approach to support these and other communities:

 

“I am not sure that people living in the reality of today’s inequality (or somewhere in between it) know what the others’ world looks like. We have vague glimpses depending on where we have been or what we have been exposed to, but to really see and understand separate worlds is not easy. Yet we still share commonalities like the love for our children, the encouragement of friends during hard times, the joy that bird song brings in the morning, the awe we experience when we see a sunset. However divided, misinformed, prejudiced, conflicted or separated we may be, these simple things in life are powerful universalities that remain strong and constant and bring us comfort and joy.

“All my life I have been troubled by inequality: what it means, how it manifests, what it does, where it comes from and how I can be in service to all beings, equally enjoying the same rights and care. In this tense and terrifying time, I can hear and speak the words of rage or judgement, shame or accusation, or even imagine that I have some (miracle) answers as I see inequality raise its ugly claws. But I can also choose to look to where love, care and sharing come to heal and help us learn more about ourselves, about each other and the world we live in.

“Can we show the willingness to find another way of being? To think differently? To question our beliefs, our habits, our assumptions and views? To question ourselves first and foremost?

“Food parcels and feeding programmes are wonderful, and offering even the smallest contribution do have the potential to inspire an internal transformation – especially today, when the bare basics are so urgently needed. But we must acknowledge, as we give, that they are temporary and only provide a band-aid to much deeper wounds that are going to need individual, group and systemic change. If we are really going to be honest about what we are facing, maybe we might see that change begins with all of us sharing from the abundance of what we have. Sharing the stories of our childhood, the skills of our hands, the knowledge of our minds and hearts, our gifts, our money, our food, our spaces, our family, our friends, our lands and forest and fields. As we start to share and to ask relevant questions, as we become willing to learn and unlearn, we could shift, step by step from what does not serve deep transformation to what does.

“So in the tiny microcosm of Eluxolweni, how do we apply these sentiments, these ideas, these hopes? I am not really sure, but I am willing to be a part of this great emergence, not with all the answers but with an open heart and a deep knowing of the interbeing that is life and of the sources of ancient wisdom which we all share and which will carry us through this.”

 

Flower Valley will continue to maintain close communications with our field workers, parents and care givers, community leaders, the Overstrand Municipality, the Department of Social Development, ward councillors, and other NGO’s to stay informed of the needs arising in our most vulnerable communities and to collaborate our support efforts.  

In this time of crisis, we will continue to be inspired to work in close partnership with people to investigate sustainable ways and projects that can generate a healthy future.

Together with local families, in our home based programme and with you, our friends, we will strive to use these challenging times as a catapulting force to help break down old socio-economic patterns and liberate ourselves and others from the strongholds of the past.

Kieran travelled to Eluxolweni with a car full of food parcels. Our thanks to all the wonderful donors who have supported us so far, and to OK Gansbaai for putting the food parcels together. 

Change has never been more urgent and we invite you to share in this conversation.

We are furthermore appealing to the public to please make financial donations and will use these contributions to help feed impoverished families with pregnant woman and young children 0 – 4 years old during this time of need.

To find out more or to make your much needed contribution, please contact:

Kieran Whitley
Home Based Coordinator
Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Email: kieran@flowervalley.co.za | Mobile: +27 (0)83 654 1425

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In the Bailey household, we take Valentine’s Day pretty seriously. At the very least, my wife ‘expects’ (although I try to surprise her) a beautiful bouquet of flowers – preferably fynbos.

Please help us feed 87 young children and their families in the Overstrand.

The current lockdown crisis that we all face requires us, as the Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT), to adjust our work to meet the pressing needs of the most vulnerable, young children aged 0 – 4 years and their families, who participate in our Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme. 

This comes down to providing simple things like food and continuing to support a stable, playful and caring environment for these young children.

Background

The majority of young South African children in highly populated and rural areas do not have adequate access to early childhood services. Flower Valley’s home based programme brings ECD services to the home of the child, in a family context.

We have been delivering an ECD home based service since 2012, in response to a request made by the Department of Social Development (DSD), who is mandated to take care of the interests of children aged 0 – 4 years. The home based service forms part of our existing ECD Programme’s work of the past twenty years.

Young children and families in need

Eluxolweni – a small Pearly Beach neighbourhood has for years relied on an informal economy for income. Poaching of abalone has been a significant contributor. In November 2019, SAPS law enforcement and other sectors combined efforts to bring poaching to a halt in the Overstrand. As a consequence, this community faces growing financial hardship. And with the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa and lockdown implemented in recent weeks, the needs of this community have increased substantially. The Dolfyntjies Centre, the only local ECD Centre, had to close its doors with the lockdown, with an additional impact of the loss of salaries for teachers, as well as the compromised stimulation of the children of Dolfyntjies.

Baardskeerdersbos – another one of our rural ECD home based programme areas, exists in an already vulnerable community due to lack of services and a high rate of substance abuse. While living on a farm at this time holds some benefits, in part because most families still have someone employed, there are still families in need of food and support.

We are ready to act in the best interests of these young children and their families who are currently going hungry.

After consultation with all role players (working closely with the Overstrand Municipality), and having reviewed all the options, logistics and health and safety considerations at this time, it has been decided that the quickest and most effective way forward is for the Flower Valley ECD Programme to purchase necessary items and distribute parcels to families in dire need.

Please help us feed 87 young children and their families in the Overstrand at this critical time 

It costs us approximately R710 to provide a family 16 simple nutritious main meals over a period of one month – this includes formula for 14 babies in need, and a small play pack (valued at R20) to stimulate and bring joy to a child at this time of lockdown. 

Our target is to provide each family with a food pack every two weeks. 

The estimated monthly cost is R61 770. We will be monitoring the need and application of this relief project weekly and will continue to keep you informed.

We thank you for your support – every donation, no matter what size, will help us to help a family in need at this very difficult time.

 

Our banking details

Account name: Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Bank: Nedbank
Account type: Current
Account number: 134 501 3493
Branch code: 196005
Swift code: NEDSZAJJ
Deposit reference: Your name/Feed a family 

Please send us confirmation of your deposit and your contact details to: rita@flowervalley.co.za as we would like to acknowledge your gift. All qualifying donations from a South African bank account can be issued with an 18A tax certificate on request.

How wonderful that we can stand together and share in the abundance of our lives and gifts. We thank you with all of our hearts for helping us to help each other. Together we are better, together we are strong.

For more information about this emergency intervention or the work of our programme, please contact:

Rita Graham
Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Email: rita@flowervalley.co.za 

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In the Bailey household, we take Valentine’s Day pretty seriously. At the very least, my wife ‘expects’ (although I try to surprise her) a beautiful bouquet of flowers – preferably fynbos.

Coronavirus and fynbos: How we’re dealing with the crisis

By Roger Bailey, Acting Executive Director: Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Even at the most southerly tip of Africa, the impacts of COVID-19 are being felt acutely.

For Flower Valley Conservation Trust, we see it most clearly in our communities we work with. Flower Valley’s role has always been to protect our natural world THROUGH people. Everything we do to achieve our vision: A fynbos-filled future for life and livelihoods, takes place by working with people. 

As a result of the virus, all our in-field programmes came to a halt (although harvesting operations have now resumed under Level 4 of lockdown). 

 

Our alien clearing programme creates work for 150 people. There are about 200 harvesters involved in our Sustainable Harvesting Programme. And around 300 young children go to school at our 5 core centres, and 80 families are supported through our Early Childhood Development Programme.

These teams and communities had to stay home when the crisis hit, and most still remain at home – staying safe and helping to prevent the spread of the virus. We’re so grateful to them for playing their part in dealing with this crisis.

But we are also very aware of how this has affected them.

And as such, we’re setting ourselves up to play a role in supporting these and other communities affected by the virus.

  • Both our Natural Resource Management and Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes received calls from participants in these programmes to assist those communities hardest hit by the lockdown. Examples are the Pearly Beach, Eluxolweni community. Currently a team led by the Flower Valley ECD Programme aims to contribute to the coordination of food parcels to vulnerable households in Eluxolweni and Baardskeerdersbos (a small town in our area of operations).
  • We are very alert to the fact that there may be existing schemes in place already. Therefore, our goal is to supplement these schemes to assist with demands over this critical period.

We’ll also continue to adapt ourselves to support any other causes that emerge in our area of operations as a result of the Coronavirus.

Despite the significant negative effects of this virus, there is, however, a flipside to this difficult time:  

For a long time, we’ve believed SERIOUS ACTION is needed to stop global biodiversity losses. Yes, NGOs like ours must continue our work to protect nature.

But change is also needed at the highest levels – at the core of government, and at the heart of the economy. We can’t continue to operate in a way that growth takes place at nature’s expense. These gains today will carry a heavy toll for humanity tomorrow.

In our global response to COVID-19, we see that we CAN take drastic action. And we can do it quickly.

The loss of our natural world is at crisis levels too. It requires global action, in order to secure our very existence as humankind. International attempts to halt the spread of the virus therefore give us hope that we can stop our unsustainable use of what Mother Earth provides us.

At the very least, let the lessons we’re learning now not be forgotten as we move ever closer to nature’s tipping point.

Sustainable Fynbos Harvesting

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When you pick fynbos sustainably, you not only protect the fynbos kingdom for future generations, you also protect the jobs of those who live by harvesting it sustainably. 

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Can’t get out into nature? We’re bringing some fynbos to you instead

Did you know that exposure to plants can boost your health? And in times of lockdown – they can especially support your mental and emotional health. 

Research shows that time spent in a natural setting (yes, even a small garden), can help reduce stress, make you more productive and creative, help you remember better, and reduce signs of depression.

Right now, many of us simply don’t have access to nature (let along a shop-bought fynbos bouquet) – as we remain safely home to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

So, if you can’t enjoy some of the fynbos beauty outdoors, we’ll bring some of the fynbos beauty into your home (albeit a virtual presence). 

More specifically, we’re sharing some of those lesser-known fynbos plants you’re likely to see in your sustainably-harvested fynbos bouquet (these species are harvested from natural fynbos landscapes, as opposed to flower orchards). 

‘Glasogies’ (literally translated as ‘Glass eyes’)

Staavia radiata is often found in fynbos bouquets. It’s usually used as a filler – in other words, it’s used around the pretty focal flowers (such as the Proteas). But that doesn’t make these magical white flowers any less spectacular.

Staavia radiata is known to resprout vigorously after fire. It flowers between September and December, and occurs across large parts of the Cape Floral Kingdom (as such, it’s listed as a species of Least Concern).

‘Blombos’ (literally translated as ‘Flower bush’)

We can show you pictures of the pretty Metalasia muricata. But unfortunately technology doesn’t yet allow us to share their very prominent smell with you – they have a distinctive honey scent. They also have hardy leaves – and flowers range from white, to brown, and event to pink and purple.

This species is listed as Least Concern and is harvested from natural fynbos landscapes. It’s widespread and abundant across much of the Cape Floral Kingdom, especially the coastal areas and flowers between May and September. (It’s also got great garden potential).

Cape everlasting

The Phaenocoma prolifera is known as the ‘strooiblommetjie’ (translated as ‘straw flower’). If you’ve touched it, then you’ll know why – it feels a bit like straw or paper. The flowers are pink when they’re young, but as they grow older, they fade to white.

They flower between September and March – and are listed as Least Concern because they are fairly widespread (from the Cape Peninsula all the way down to Bredasdorp). But they do face some threats: If they’re picked when they are too young, they can be killed.

Dune conebush

Leucadendron coniferum is also often found in fynbos bouquets as a filler. The cones start off as pink/red, but as they get older, then become green. They flower between August and September.

This species is listed as Vulnerable. And what’s more, it has a Vulnerability Score of 5 (this means that it must be monitored closely to ensure it’s not over-harvested). It’s also threatened by invasive plants, loss of habitat and degradation.

Line-leaf conebush

The Leucadendron linifolium is also listed as Vulnerable – that’s because you’ll often find them growing in wetlands (and many wetlands have been lost over the decades). They also have a slightly higher Vulnerability Index score (4), which means they must be monitored.

They flow between September and October. These plants are pollinated by insects – and the seeds are kept safely in the female cones, only to be released following a fire.

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When fynbos is picked sustainably, you not only protect the fynbos kingdom for future generations, you also protect the livelihoods of those who harvest it. 

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In the Bailey household, we take Valentine’s Day pretty seriously. At the very least, my wife ‘expects’ (although I try to surprise her) a beautiful bouquet of flowers – preferably fynbos.

What’s going below our fynbos?

There’s a flurry of activity going on BELOW the fynbos plants on Flower Valley Farm. And much of this action is being driven by the humble dung beetle.

 

Following a recent study on Flower Valley Farm, it was found that SEVEN different species of dung beetles occur here. And while they may frequent the indigenous Stinkhoutsbos Forest, the study found they prefer the fynbos-covered slopes on the farm, in particular the Critically Endangered Overberg Sandstone Fynbos and the Vulnerable Agulhas Limestone Fynbos.

The greatest diversity of species was also found in these two habitats.

HERE’S HOW THE DATA WAS COLLECTED

The research team, led by Roger Bailey (Flower Valley’s Acting Executive Director) set up pitfall traps, using cow manure to lure the beetles. These were checked regularly. And the dung beetles caught were identified before being released back into the surrounding area. 

Seven different species were identified, including:

  • Circellium bacchus (Flightless dung beetle)

  • Catharius tricornutus (Three-horned dung beetle)

  • Psorodes tuberculata

  • Trox sulcatus

  • Trigonopus species

  • Histeridae species (Steel beetle)

  • (The final beetle could not be identified).

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? WHY DOES THIS MATTER? 

Because dung beetles play SUCH an important role in fynbos. 

• When they bury dung, they help maintain soil health. 

• They facilitate dung-seed dispersal. 

• They also help keep fly numbers down by removing the dung. 

Even more importantly, they’re an indicator species: their presence helps us evaluate the impacts of human activities on habitats. 

BUT DUNG BEETLES FACE SEVERE THREATS:

In fact, a recent global study found dramatic rates of declines that could lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species. Dung beetles appear to be the hardest hit. Urbanisation, loss of habitat, insecticides and pesticide residue in dung are among some of the threats.

On Flower Valley Farm, we protect our dung beetles, and the habitat they live in. 

And we’re partnered by a group of committed conservation-supporters, all whom have adopted one or more hectares on Flower Valley Farm.

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In the Bailey household, we take Valentine’s Day pretty seriously. At the very least, my wife ‘expects’ (although I try to surprise her) a beautiful bouquet of flowers – preferably fynbos. And not just any fynbos, of course. We only opt for responsibly harvested fynbos.

So we popped in at our Sustainable Harvesting Programme member, Lourens Boerdery, to get some tips on arranging a fynbos bouquet. Here Maria Lewis shows us how it’s done.

These Valentine’s Day bouquets will be sold at Pick n Pay. And for every bouquet of fynbos sold with a Flower Valley sticker on it, R1 is donated to our Sustainable Harvesting Programme.

These funds are used to train harvesters to pick fynbos with care, in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. This is such a wonderful role Pick n Pay is playing to help protect Fynbos landscapes and livelihoods.

Get our latest news here.

Kind regards,

Roger Bailey

Acting Executive Director: Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Here’s how YOU and Pick n Pay are conserving Fynbos

When you buy Fynbos bouquets with THIS sticker on them, you’re helping to conserve Fynbos. 

Flower Valley Conservation Trust has teamed up with Pick n Pay to protect Fynbos. For every bouquet of Fynbos sold in a Pick n Pay store with the sticker on, R1 is donated to Flower Valley’s Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP).

Pick n Pay has been a supporter of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme for more than a decade. They sell Fynbos harvested by members of the Programme. Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, Head of the Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation, is also a Patron at Flower Valley Conservation Trust.

Roger Bailey, Flower Valley’s Acting Executive Director says, “For years we have worked closely with Pick n Pay. This new agreement is the pinnacle of our long-standing cooperation. Their support will help make a difference.”

With the funds raised by Pick n Pay, Fynbos harvesters receive training to pick this resource with care – in a way that doesn’t damage the environment. The funds also support monitoring and ongoing research into Fynbos harvesting.

The SHP is an assurance programme. It helps to guide harvesters to pick Fynbos in the appropriate way. It also supports them to pick the correct species.

Many Fynbos species face extinction, and more than 30 have already become extinct. That’s why harvesters are guided to only pick species that are not threatened. 

Keep an eye out for these reusable shopping bags in your Pick n Pay store. They feature Flower Valley Conservation Trust, and our Sustainable Harvesting Programme. And the proceeds of the sales of the bag support fynbos conservation.

How to make a Valentine’s Day bouquet

Fynbos Valentine’s Day bouquets don’t make themselves. There’s are a number of steps to ensure you can buy a fynbos bouquet for your other half. As an example:

  •  Teams of harvesters head into the fynbos landscapes to pick the fynbos (Flower Valley Conservation Trust helps ensure harvesters pick fynbos responsibly). 
  • The picked plants are transported – as quickly as possible – to the fynbos packshed. (The plants need to be kept cool as much as possible). 
  • A team cleans the excess material off the fynbos stems. 
  • And a second team is responsible for the creative side – arranging the fynbos bouquet. 
  • From here, bouquets may be transported to a distribution centre (of a retailer), before making their way to the stores.  

We popped in at our Sustainable Harvesting Programme member, Lourens Boerdery, to see the creative side in action (and hopefully get some tips on bouquet arranging).

Here Maria Lewis shows us how it’s done:

Spotlight on the fynbos Vulnerability Index

The Vulnerability Index has been recognised internationally as an important contributor to conservation in the fynbos biome.

This Index is a key component of the Flower Valley Sustainable Harvesting Programme. It’s used to guide wild harvesting of fynbos across the Agulhas Plain.

Now the role the Vulnerability Index plays in protecting fynbos against inappropriate harvesting practices has featured in the scientific journal, ‘Journal of Environmental Planning and Management’. The article was compiled by Dr David Bek of Coventry University, Sean Privett and Flower Valley’s Acting Executive Director, Roger Bailey (among others).

“The Vulnerability Index is a pioneering initiative which draws upon existing botanical knowledge to develop locally nuanced guidance as to the vulnerability of fynbos species to harvesting,” the authors write. 

“As such, the Vulnerability Index is an important contribution to conservation in South Africa, whilst it will also support the long-term sustainability of the wildflower harvesting industry.”

The paper adds that it sets important precedents for other wild harvesting industries, such as harvesting for medicinal purposes and horticultural collections, and how these should be regulated.

This Index was developed by a team of botanists, who looked at 150 harvestable fynbos species.

 

It differs from the Red List in two ways:

1. It focuses specifically on the risks posed by harvesting;

2. It focuses only on natural species populations in the Agulhas Plain. 

According to Dr Bek, that makes it a powerful resource, “This Index is different because it shows how vulnerable each species is to harvesting – based on biological and geographical attributes.” 

In fact, during the development of the Index, 52 of the 150 species were immediately designated as ‘no-go’ species for harvesting. Dr Bek says, “That shows that more than one third of all the species assessed in this exercise are at significant risk, with the potential to become locally extinct through harvesting.”

He adds, “This highlights the precarious state of the fynbos biome as a whole.”

The challenge is that many of these no-go species are not considered as threatened in the Red List categorization, given the different set of measurements, he says.

Currently CapeNature makes use of both the Red List and the Vulnerability Index when issuing permits for harvesting in the wild in the Agulhas Plain.

The authors now recommend that the Index be rolled out in other harvesting areas in the fynbos biome. Dr Beks says, “We also urge that the principles underpinning the Vulnerability Index are institutionalized in the regulatory spaces of conservation in South Africa, and are shared across the globe.”

To read the full paper, click here.

New Year brings deepened commitment to children

The new year brings renewed commitment to enrich young children’s lives and provide them with a beautiful, warm and nurturing learning environment.

Building on past successes, the Early Childhood Development team at Flower Valley Conservation Trust aims to now deepen our support in the quality of training and resources shared with teachers and field workers. 

The following goals form part of the team’s continued focussed investment in children’s lives:

The launch of an outdoor class 

Natural, wild spaces offer children an optimal environment in which to nurture their inborn sense of wonder and play. A new lush garden space on Flower Valley Farm will become an extended play space for children as part of the Milkwood Programme.

Teachers will accompany the children on regular visits to the farm, where they’ll observe a simple programme that will encourage the children to freely explore the space and play. The visits will include ring work with nature songs, verses and a story. Each child will receive a small basket housing a soft toy in the form of a fynbos creature, which they will take back to the class, where continued activities will link their outdoor play time with their time at school. The children will also enjoy a hearty meal and have ample time to immerse themselves in the mesmerizing sights, sounds and smells of nature.

A mentor to support teachers

A newly-appointed mentor will support all teachers and field workers in their practical implementation of the Milkwood Programme. The qualified and experienced mentor will do onsite visits to observe and assist the teachers in all aspects of learning.

Two current teachers, Dorah Siduka and Sandiswa Mpela, have completed their level 5 qualifications and have been assisting other teachers in their home language, isiXhosa. Their support has brought about a positive shift in both the motivation and quality of practice of fellow teachers. The new mentor will further support their work.

The Butterfly Art Project

Five teachers attended the Butterfly Art Project in Muizenberg in October last year. They completed the Early Beginnings Module, in which art is used as a healing tool to help children process their emotions. The teachers learned skills with which to facilitate art in the classroom and also worked on their own personal development. They completed 20 hours of art activities that included art with pastels, water colours, clay, scrapbooking and loose materials. They handed in portfolios that will be reviewed.

As a highlight, they enjoyed a guided tour to the Zeitz MOCAA Museum and returned home with refreshed motivation and deepened skills. Flower Valley will continue our partnership with the Butterfly Art Project and we are looking at ways to bring the project to the Overstrand where more teachers can attend it.

“Wild spaces offer children an optimal environment in which to nurture their inborn
sense of wonder and play.”

The Nurture Project: Supporting inner work

Teachers can bring beauty and a love of learning into the world. They form an integral part of children’s lives, especially during the first seven years when children mainly learn through imitation. The Flower Valley team is researching ways in which we can support the inner work and life of teachers to aid them in their role as educators.

The teachers who attended the Butterfly Art Project in Muizenberg were shown how art could be used as a medium to connect with, explore and nurture their own inner selves. They greatly benefitted from the course and the ECD team will continue to build on this experience in future.

The team also aims to invite teachers on possible nature retreats. Time spent in nature combined with good nutrition, physical activity, and periods of self reflection will support the teachers’ personal health and wellbeing.

Two more centres to be registered this year

Two ECD centres will receive their Department of Social Development partial care registration this year. Registration is significant because in order to receive it, the centre needs to operate from a safe formal building with enough trained staff to meet the department’s set out ratios. In order to meet these ratios, schools need to source a significant amount of additional funding.

Seesterretjies, a small centre in the fishermen’s village of Buffeljagsbaai, will receive funds for staff salaries and running costs from a local branch of I&J, a South African fishery. Flower Valley supported the centre in brokering this invaluable partnership.

The Good Hope Centre in Masakhane will also receive its registration. The centre can grow to include an additional 60 children, with plans in place to register 20 of those children by April 2020. In the course of the year, an I Med vision training and outreach centre will complement the early childhood development work of the Good Hope site, through basic primary health training and intervention. Good Hope will also remain to be a site for ECD professional development and employment creation for emerging professionals.

Parenting programmes that support parents as first educators and primary caregivers of young children will be integrated into the existing services provided at the centre. Flower Valley will also continue to facilitate home visits to parents of children registered at Good Hope to provide them with basic information on early childhood.

Learn more about these and other future projects, or to make a donation.