According to the National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy, the First Thousand Days offers a unique and invaluable window of opportunity to secure the optimal development of the child, and by extension, the positive developmental trajectory of a country (Republic of South Africa, 2015).
The Do More Foundation in its striving for holistic young child development support built a partnership with Sikunye, an Early Life initiative that capacitates churches to support parents, caregivers and families to provide nurturing care for their children in the First Thousand Days of life. In Breede Valley several workshops were conducted in 2019 to introduce the FTD concept and identify suitable champions for the programme from the various churches.
In 2020 approximately 25 church representatives and Flourish hosts were engaged in a workshop that equipped them to plan and lead their churches to become FTD friendly. Participants were guided to use the strengths and assets within the churches to support FTD within their respective contexts and draft an action plan to equip leaders, congregants and families. Due to lockdown, considerable innovation was required to take the programme forward. Sikunye started online “Lunchtime Conversations” covering relevant FTD topics and a Champions training session was facilitated on “how to form loving connections with families with young children.” Eight BVM churches are activated on the Sikunye website and are participating in online conversations. Interestingly lockdown presented an unexpected opportunity for Sikunye to expand their reach beyond Western Cape due to their online presence which enabled them to connect with churches remotely across provincial and national borders