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.
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 approximatelyR710 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: email@example.com 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:
Kieran Whitley Home Based Coordinator Flower Valley Conservation Trust Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Mobile: +27 (0)83 654 1425
Some books and fables stay with you for the rest of your life (even if you hear them as a young child).
These are stories to capture the imagination, or tales that share knowledge, values and ideas.
Why is it so important for children to hear these stories? Well, it’s not so much about the lesson of each story.
It’s rather what the story does to each individual child, ultimately helping the child create a greater sense of awe and wonder about his and her world, while also equipping the child with the building blocks of their language.
Some of these stories are captured in the Milkwood Learning Programme – our Early Childhood Development Programme curriculum created for children up to 4 years old.
On World Children’s Book Day, our Flower Valley Early Childhood Development team choose their three favourites from the programme (stories with an environmental touch). And explain why these fables simply haven’t aged.
1. THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE
You’ll know this story: The Tortoise, who has been ridiculed by the Hare for being too slow, finally challenges the Hare to a race. When the race starts, the Hare leaves the poor Tortoise behind. But while the Hare takes a nap during the race, the Tortoise sneaks past, and – to the Hare’s anger and surprise – wins the race.
This is one of Aesop’s Fables – a storyteller (and slave) who is believed to have lived in ancient Greece (born in 620 BC).
What could the story teach you? Well, that depends on your interpretation. But whether it encourages perseverance, ingenuity, doggedness or less haste (on the part of the Tortoise), or teaches against idleness, bullying or too much haste (on the part of the Hare), this story has captured children’s hearts for centuries.
2: THE ENORMOUS TURNIP
Also known as The Giant Turnip, this is a Russian fable by Alexei Tolstoy. Today there are many different versions of the story – with different teachings.
The story: A farmer and his family try to pull out a giant turnip, but to no avail. They bring in support, in the form of the dog, the cat, a hen and a duck to help. But still the turnip remains rooted in the ground. Finally, a small mouse lends his support – and they manage to pull the turnip out. When they feast on the turnip, those who refused to help (like the fox) are not invited.
What could the story teach you? Not many stories capture the importance of eating your vegetables. The fable also teaches that your size does not dictate your significance. And it captures the importance of being a team player.
3. THE HUNGRY CATERPILLAR
This story, by Eric Carle, has captured the imagination of children since 1969. That’s not only for the story; but as much the beautiful and original graphics (which won numerous prizes).
The story: The Hungry Caterpillar tells of a young caterpillar that eats his way through many meals – from apples to a lollipop. Finally, the now rather fat caterpillar spins a cocoon, and two weeks later emerges as a beautiful butterfly.
What could the story teach you? Young children are introduced to the days of the week, different food types, and of course, the life cycle of the butterfly. In fact, the book has been classified as one of the greatest childhood classics of all time.
Some storytelling tips:
While it’s good for children to be exposed to stories in different languages, the majority of stories should be read to a child in their mother tongue. This helps to entrench the building blocks of their mother tongue language first.
It’s also important for stories to be repeated to children, as they digest a story each time they hear it and develop a deeper meaning.
There’s no right or wrong way for a child to interpret a story. The child may take something from a story that the adult may not recognise.
And get your children to engage with a story by asking lots of who, what, why and where questions. Again, there is no correct or incorrect answer, it just depends on how the child has processed the story.
The ECD team, led by Coordinator Gabbi Cook Jonker, hosted such a retreat in September. It was held at Wortelgat.
Here practitioners from early childhood development centres in the Overstrand (that form part of our ECD Programme) came together, to enter on a journey of self exploration, from nature walks, to art activities and yoga.
The Creative Skills Factory facilitated the retreat – and have compiled a wonderful blog capturing their experiences at the retreat.
Rudolf Steiner said: “you will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are”.
The Flower Valley Early Childhood Development Programme believes that the inner work of a teacher, teaching assistant and field worker is fundamental to good quality Early Childhood Development. As part of our work, we are constantly reflecting and growing in our understanding of how to support the growth of ECD professionals as individuals, in order to strengthen their work with young children.
At present, one of our methods to facilitate this, is through our Milkwood Nurture Teachers Retreats.
These retreats take place in a natural setting away from regular day to day life. Here, teachers are honoured, recognised, and given a safe place to explore their inner worlds in a peaceful environment through planned nurturing activities.
Some of the highlights from our June 2018 retreat:
The women arrived at Fynbos Retreat in the beautiful mountains between Stanford and Gansbaai. The retreat started with laughing yoga hosted by a local expert, Lindy Greyling. This type of yoga involved a lot of laughing, allowing the body to secrete feel-good hormones and provided a special time of bonding. It was ended with a morning meditation next to the dam.
Later that day the ladies each got a chance to make their own vision board – a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. A vision board can help guide or represent whatever you wish to be, do or have in your life. The women found this activity very enriching and it was an excellent place to further grow in the understanding of oneself and each other.
Lindy also provided the group with one-on-one Somachord sessions. A Somachord is an instrument that looks like a wooden bed. Strings are attached to the underside that are all tuned to a specific frequency. Receiving the therapy, one lies on the bed while the instrument is played, allowing for healing sound vibrations to work in one’s heart, body and mind. The feedback from this was exceptional, all participants found this to be an enriching and transforming experience with one participant saying: “I cannot put it into words, so relaxing”.
During the retreat, there was exploration in building a deeper understanding of the power of stories. The women discussed how the stories we tell ourselves and our children regulate our souls, and transform, heal and educate the psyche.
“Stories as healing medicine” will continue to be a theme of our retreats.
The group shared wonderful moments of song sharing as everyone sang together in different mother tongues. Lastly, each person took time to do a personality test and a follow up discussion, which contributed to the team spirit and the on-going collaborative work.
Deepening connections, opening doors and letting go
The retreat gave participants time to be quiet and feel the wonder of nature. Both the venue and the activities allowed for quiet solitary and group time in the fynbos and forest ecosystems. As the retreat fell over the winter solstice, the group celebrated by making fires and each teacher writing one thing that they would like to let go of and one thing they would like to bring into their lives. Each teacher, with a deep breath, released their papers into the blazing flames.
These Milkwood Nurture retreats started in 2017. The feedback the ECD programme has received is excellent, we have seen individuals open up and grow in a powerful way. For anyone that is interested in finding out more about this area of our programme, please contact Gabrielle Jonker at email@example.com.
End plastic pollution – what a massive and daunting task. For years we have become used to grabbing plastic bags at the supermarket till and storing our food in colourful Tupperware.
But where has this led us? Where is the plastic going after we have used it?
Earth Day’s theme is #EndPlasticPollution and it’s very evident why. Our landscapes, our oceans and even our homes are being poisoned and polluted by plastic in a dangerous and rapid way. The human race’s way of living has become so detrimental to the natural world – one wonders if people can change the way they live?
So that’s where Early Childhood Development stepped in – and why Flower Valley has chosen to be part of children’s upbringing and growth.
Because the children attending our four supported ECD Kindergarten centres across the Overstrand are the future leaders, the future ambassadors who will help protect our natural world. And our impact today can have a ripple effect into their tomorrow, hopefully helping in the fight to beat plastic pollution.
What we got up to:
Dolfyntjies centre in Pearly Beach informal settlement, Eluxolweni, had a recycling arts and crafts day. They used materials such as bottle tops, old egg boxes and plastic bags to create posters of Dolphins. This gave Joemarie, the Dolfyntjies Principal, the chance to explain the importance of our marine ecosystems and why we should do our part to re-use and recycle our plastic.
The children each received plastic bottles which they enjoyed filling with soil and planted peas – now looking to the future and what they can do to help restore and protect our Earth.
But Earth Day should be celebrated each day:
Earth Day is vital for raising awareness and changing the way we as humans think – taking it forward into our everyday lives.
That is why our ECD team and practitioners have made a promise: a promise to make material shopping bags at the next Milkwood Workshop to give to the whole Flower Valley team. This in turn may not make the biggest difference today, but each small action can make a big difference for tomorrow.
We’re working closely with the Western Cape Department of Social Development in supporting these early childhood centres to meet departmental standards.
The Children’s Act requires all ECD facilities to be registered with the Department, enabling a form of quality control in terms of health and safety, management, governance and the learning programme.
Flower Valley works with stakeholders connected to these 22 centres to compile a portfolio of evidence for registration and re-registration.
With regular monitoring of progress, we report to the Department, and where necessary work with stakeholders to address barriers.
Training and knowledge sharing on various aspects of early childhood development is done with management committees, centre staff and parents.
Children’s play and imagination, a loving relationship with caring adults, good management and governance and safe, stimulating environments are some of the elements that support good quality ECD.
As the ECD team, we work in appropriate ways to help balance these elements. This can sometimes be challenging. But working together, we can contribute to a better environment for these young children.
Thank you to our valuable partners for your part in this process.
As 2017 draws to a close, the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme hosted a Milkwood Learning Workshop for ECD practitioners, governing body members and field workers at Fynbos Retreat, a joint venture between Flower Valley and Grootbos. This workshop focused on nurturing and acknowledging the wonderful, selfless work that these women undertake with young children in the Overstrand region.
Activities such as painting and nature walks helped everyone to relax, trust and draw out their creativity. These activities also highlighted the importance of self-acceptance and team work.
When it comes to self-expression and unlocking creativity, it is about the process and trusting in oneself. The practitioners experienced this through free-painting, sculptural form, land art, creative thought and time for silence in the forest.
The first five years of a child’s life are extremely important and the experiences and environment of the child in this time will have far-reaching effects in years to come. Videos and presentations at the workshop showed the ECD practitioners just how valuable their work is and how their positive inputs are having life-changing impacts on the lives of young children.
The practitioners also shared some of the barriers that they experience in their teaching practice and the team discussed ways to address these obstacles.
Flower Valley’s Kieran Whitley – who is also a reflexologist – treated all the practitioners to a rejuvenating foot massage.
The weather was chilly, but a fire, pizza and great companionship at the beautiful Fynbos Retreat made for a rewarding and insightful workshop for the women.
Since September 1998 the ECD programme has served the children, families and teachers of the Overstrand with great commitment, passion and skills. The programme has grown tremendously in these 18 years.
The arrival of spring bought not only a burst of flowers but also five beautiful, committed, passionate and skilled people to our ECD team. We work together to improve the quality of life through the service we deliver daily to young children, their caregivers, parents and teachers.
We can now build on the solid foundation of work, partnerships and relationships that have developed over the past 18 years.
So meet our four new team members:
Cath joined the ECD team in July. She has a Library Science degree, a diploma in Environmental Education and a MA in Fine Arts. Her experience as a librarian, environmental educator, research assistant, nature guide and in running her own business adds great value to our programme.
Her understanding of the interconnected nature of the health of families, children and the environment and her excellent sense of humour and dedication are some of her many special qualities.
She joins us in an administrative, management and governance role where she supports and coaches centre management committees, and manages and administers the ECD programme.
Kieran joined the team in September as our Home Based Co-ordinator and Support Teacher. Her initial contact with Flower Valley was as a volunteer where her loving and caring spirit shone brightly.
Kieran has a Social Work degree and experience in special needs and community work with an environmental slant. She brings with her experience as a massage therapist, a love for gardening, walking in the mountains and horse riding. Her open-hearted nature and educational background unfolds in her love for serving vulnerable children.
Elizabeth also joined us in September and is one of those people who you know will find a solution in a difficult situation. She is pragmatic, efficient, kind, grounded and confident. Elizabeth has a degree in Foundation Phase education and an Honours Degree in Inclusive Education and is our Registration and Learning Programme Coordinator.
She brings to the team teaching and ECD project management experience and has a passion for empowering women personally and professionally in a teaching and learning environment. She also has a great understanding of the value of play in early childhood and skills in addressing barriers to learning.
Natasha De Wet
Natasha is an angel. A wife of a farmer and a mother of three boys, she lives just outside Baardskeerdersbos and is our Home Based Field Worker. The compassion, care and attention that she brings to vulnerable families is an inspiration.
She goes way beyond the call of duty and in her time working at Flower Valley has already had a life-changing impact on the families of the Baardskeerdersbos area. She is currently completing her level 1 qualification in ECD and will continue her educational journey in ECD.
A final word from me:
From me Gabrielle, the ECD Programme Manager, I extend my gratitude to these four women and to the donors that believe and invest in the service we deliver. Every day children’s lives are better due to the love and commitment of women such as Cath, Kieran, Elizabeth and Natasha. Every day the power of play and care changes the lives of children and families.
We still have a long way to go and the challenges are great, but with such an inspired team and with the love and beauty of the children and families that we work with, we feel confident about the road ahead.
Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT) is a registered Public Benefit Organisation, based on Flower Valley Farm, outside Gansbaai in the Overstrand. The Trust runs an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme – working in the Gansbaai area of the Overstrand region with five ECD centres and a home-based programme.
ECD registration support field worker
To support the ECD Programme in coordinating and supporting the registration of ECD partial care facilities in the Gansbaai and Stanford area.
To support registered and unregistered ECD sites on the road to registration and re-registration;
Support and monitoring of implementation plans;
Management and organisation of logistics for training and capacity building;
Site visits and monitoring;
Auditing, reporting and filing;
Registration project documents and schedule management
Minimum qualifications & experience:
Excellent administration and management skills
Problem solving, creative thinking and team work skills
Efficiency and co-ordination skills
Good communication and people skills (minimum of English and Afrikaans, Xhosa a benefit)
Understanding of community development dynamics and processes
Experience in project management or supervision
Experience in the Early Childhood Development, Education or Community development sectors
MS word computer skills including excel
Drivers licence and own transport
Own lap top or computer (not essential but preferable)
Must be based in or around Gansbaai
A market-related salary will be negotiated, dependent on qualifications and experience, for each position.
Deadline: Friday 1 September 2017
Please send your CV, a cover letter, and two contactable references to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 028 388 0442. For more information, contact 028 388 0713 during office hours.
Women’s Day seemed the perfect time for the women of our Early Childhood Development Programme to come together at Fynbos Retreat, to attend the Milkwood Workshop.
The workshop connected the 16 practitioners and programme team working toward quality delivery of ECD services to five centres that Flower Valley Conservation Trust supports.
Over the two days, the practitioners looked at ways in which young children learn, and how teachers can continue reaching them. The time together was spent making valuable connections as a team of professionals that deliver an essential service to young children and families.
The women also spoke of the importance of self-discovery as a mentor. They were encouraged to self-reflect and ask themselves critical questions during the forest walk and feedback sessions. And to express themselves artistically through clay and weaving art.
Taking a look at autism
Social worker, Kieran Whitley, also presented a talk on autism. She has focused her studies on children with special needs. Kieran explained how best work with children with autism, what techniques work best in high pressure situations and how activities like brain-gym can be used to benefit children’s development.
The women enjoyed getting to know each other during their stay at Fynbos Retreat. Nicole Arends, Principal at Seesterretjies Centre, noted how all the practitioners share a common goal: caring for the children in the Overstrand. She said this opportunity gave her a chance to share her knowledge and stories, while learning even more.
The Early Childhood Development Programme focuses on creating a holistic development environment for young children and their primary caregivers and educators, while weaving the green thread throughout their education. This can only be done when reflection takes place, and planning happens for the future.
We are looking forward to the next workshop later this year.