PRESS RELEASE: DO MORE FOUNDATION and RCL FOODS Empower uPhongolo Community Through Transformative Initiatives for Children and Parents in KwaZulu-Natal
06 Dec 2023
With the rights and needs of young children being the focus of November both in South Africa on the 4th and internationally on the 20th, the DO MORE FOUNDATION (founded by RCL FOODS) reflects on the strides made over the past three years to support vulnerable young children in uPhongolo, KwaZulu-Natal.
Central to DO MORE’s efforts has been collaboration with numerous essential partner organisations. Together, partners have advocated for the universal right to access services that foster the development of vulnerable young children (ages 0 to 5) in under-resourced communities across South Africa. This collaboration aligns with the government's National Integrated Early Childhood Development (ECD) Policy, established by the Department of Basic Education in 2015.
In 2020, following an independent scoping report conducted in uPhongolo, DO MORE and its local implementing partner, Lulamaphiko, identified various opportunities to promote and support the well-being of young children through responsive community-based initiatives. They focused on three key areas: nutrition, learning through play, and supporting parents and caregivers. These areas were chosen because they promote the overall development of young children, as stated in the National Integrated ECD Policy and the broader ECD sector.
“The DO MORE FOUNDATION has made a long-term commitment to young children in uPhongolo, their families and the communities they live in, and plans are in place to deepen and strengthen the services that they will provide in the years ahead”, says Lynn Stefano, Director at Lulamaphiko.
Here are five key highlights from the past three years reported by DO MORE and their partners:
ECD food gardens and DO MORE Porridge: Lulamaphiko and Biowatch South Africa have partnered to establish food gardens at several ECD centres. To ensure the gardens’ long-term success, ECD gardeners were trained in sustainable, organic farming methods to ensure the fresh produce supports the health of the centre’s children.
This nutrition focus includes provision of DO MORE Porridge to 1,478 young children attending 39 ECD centres in uPhongolo. With the backing of the RCL FOODS Sugar Mill HR department, this porridge is delivered monthly, directly to the doors of ECD centres, ensuring essential nutritional support for young children. After all, no child can effectively learn on an empty stomach.
EAT LOVE PLAY TALK (ELPT) programme: Lulamaphiko has helped deliver DO MORE’s ELPT parenting programme to hundreds of caregivers in uPhongolo over the past two years. ELPT is a community-based parent education programme developed by the DO MORE, which packages public health messaging in an interactive, dialogue-focused way to empower ECD practitioners’ and parents/caregivers with practical knowledge about food- and nutrition literacy, health and hygiene practices, responsive caregiving, and early learning through play.
Resourcing ECD centres for PLAY: A complementary addition to the ELPT programme roll out in uPhongolo has been the delivery of handmade wooden toy boxes to 35 ECD centres. These are accompanied by posters detailing the optimal usage of the toys. In a different initiative, Care for Education and Zero2Five Trust provided three consignments of DUPLO Play Boxes for 5,735 children, and trained 90 ECD practitioners on how to use the play boxes as tools for learning.
Every Word Counts (EWC): Lulamaphiko led early literacy workshops based on the Wordworks EWC programme reaching 60 ECD practitioners and parents/caregivers. The programme focuses on building reading and writing skills for children aged three to five through everyday activities at ECD centres and at home. This roll out was funded by Grindrod Family Centenary Trust.
Read and Play at home: Thanks to the support of Bookdash and MySchool,19,500 books have been received for the Read and Play at Home initiative in uPhongolo, and 76 practitioners and 1,290 parents have attended training sessions.
ECD centre registrations: ECD centres must complete their registration with the Department of Basic Education before they can receive the government subsidy of R17 per child per day. The registration procedure is a drawn-out and difficult one. Lulamaphiko collaborates closely with environmental health officers to determine what each of the 99 ECD centres in uPhongolo need to comply with the registration requirements. DO MORE has stepped in to help fulfil these needs through various partners which has results in the provision of first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and JoJo tanks—all essential equipment and infrastructure needed for registration.