SUMMARY OF ACFS COVID19 RESPONSE MARCH 2020

ACFS Community Education & Feeding Scheme (ACFS) is a registered Non Profit Organisation founded by the late Bishop Trevor Huddleston in 1945 in Sophia Town, Johannesburg. He saw the plight of the needy malnourished children & teamed up with a group of volunteers who fed the children with the aim of combating malnutrition. The organisation has historically focused on the education & development of young children by ensuring that they get a well-balanced diet during the school day to enable them to perform and to achieve their full learning and development potential. In addition, the parents of children have been supported through a range of skills development initiatives aimed at increasing household income. Seventy-five years on, the organisation still provides this essential service for children and their marginalised families. We work predominantly in the marginalised townships and informal settlements of Soweto, Alexandra, Thembisa and Tsakane.

Food parcels ready for our Covid19 response
Food parcels ready for distribution

Our work is located in the context that more than 6 million children in South Africa continue to suffer multidimensional levels of poverty.  This compounding poverty, places a severe burden on the family, stifles the child’s ability to develop fully and compromises and robs her of the opportunity to become a responsive, active and engaged citizen.  As the turmoil and crisis of the COVID19 Virus erupts all around us, one thing is clear … the poor will be most affected and in many cases have no options to respond to the virus as some of our privileged communities do.

It is because of this harsh reality that ACFS Community Education and feeding scheme must choose to stay the course and ensure that our vulnerable communities, who are food insecure on most good days, remain supported to go through this lockdown crisis. For many of our families, their livelihoods have been wiped away with no notice. They find themselves cramped up in overcrowded homes and shacks and with restless children, now out of school. The requirement for food and nutrition is suddenly multiplied as children are at home 24/7 sharing very constrained spaces in the marginalised townships. Without a dependable source and support to access food, these vulnerable families will have more to worry about than just the spread of the COVID19 virus – they will go hungry. Many children in the townships depend on the school nutrition programme as well as our nutrition centres for a full meal each day. With this lockdown now fully in place, the food security for many of the children and families is significantly compromised.

It is because of this reality that ACFS must firmly respond to this need and ensure that throughout this period of uncertainty, we can at least provide some support through the distribution of basic food parcels for our most vulnerable households. We need your support to get food parcels in these households. As I already mentioned, the majority of the households under our care live from hand to mouth. Much of the meagre earnings the make are made on the streets. Those streets are now a war zone where it’s impossible to ply their trade- whatever it was. Five days in lockdown means five days of no adequate food. We simply cannot turn our backs on them. We need you!

Celebrating our donors

You’re the gooey goodness

We couldn’t survive without our donors. They’re the peanut butter between our slices of bread! So in September 2019, we were honoured to offer longstanding donors a tour of ACFS facilities.

They visited the Zola Malnutrition Centre with its’ new toy library; the Pimville Centre to see a lunch programme and skills training; and Meadowlands with its computer lab.

Many of our guests have been supporting ACFS for over 30 years. One donor, Dave White, has been donating since he got his first job . . . and he’s still giving even though his working days are behind him.

The ACFS is celebrating our 75th year – and thanks to donors old and new, we’re nowhere near retirement! In fact, South Africa’s children need us more!

The ties that bond

Joy and Brian Whittaker made their first donation to ACFS in 1988 and have been giving regularly ever since.

“We’re committed to ACFS. I did my social work practical at ACFS in 1972 and returned the next year as ACFS’s first social worker,” recalls Joy. Joy spent five years at ACFS. “I loved working there. They are the most wonderful people and do fantastic work. Brian and I believe in tithing and donating to ACFS is a wonderful avenue to share our blessings.”

Thank you both, for 32 years of friendship.

We can all make a difference

Having a steady income is essential in any home. And because ACFS has such a big family, monthly donations are a huge help with budgeting.

That’s why we’re so appreciative of long-standing monthly donors like Jacky and Michael du Plessis. Jacky signed up as a stop-order donor after visiting ACFS 20 years’ ago and seeing firsthand the impact the feeding scheme makes.

“Food and nutrition are terribly important. Children can’t play and learn if they don’t have energy. At ACFS, children are assured at least of a peanut butter sandwich; while caregivers are trained in food gardening,” says Jacky.

Jacky helped found her own NGO, the Shumbashaba Community Trust, in 2012. “My father was actively involved in Rotary and we grew up believing we can all make a difference.”

We thank all our donors for making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.

Message from our Chairman

Lwazi Bam

Since its beginning 75 years ago, the ACFS has found relevance working with children in Soweto, Alexandra, Thembisa and Tsakane. It’s always understood that it plays a critical role in providing children from under resourced townships with a more equitable start in life.

Now, with the fourth industrial revolution knocking on our doorstep, the ACFS is embarking on a journey of restructuring. It seeks to become more professional and efficient and ensure it’s relevant to the needs of children growing up in a technological era.

As ACFS Board Chairperson, I’d like to say a special word of appreciation to all our committed donors. Without your support and dedication, we could not have accomplished anything.

Please continue to support the good work of ACFS. Bertha has exciting plans and products in store. She’ll need your support to bring them to life.

A song and a smile

One of the biggest challenges we face is with child- and granny-headed households. These families are poor, hungry, and desperate.

That’s why we say a special “thank you” to donors who sent gifts to gogos like 71-year-old Lucy Makati. Lucy is the main provider of her family of 15 grandchildren and eight adults.

It’s only thanks to ACFS donors that Lucy can meet her family’s nutritional needs. She’s an active member of the Pimville food garden and has been taught how to grow and preserve food. She’s used her green fingers to grow veggies at home too.

And every day, the children eat a nutritious lunch at the centre. This lays an important foundation for their health and capacity to learn.

ACFS has also helped Lucy obtain social grants for two children which gives them a small but valuable income. Thank you, once again, for reaching out to amazing grannies like Lucy.

Toys give us joy . . . and prepare us for life-long active learning!

Mandela Day 2019 was a landmark day for ACFS . . . because that’s when we kicked-off our toy library programme.

Volunteers worked enthusiastically to set up two toy libraries at Zola and Meadowlands; and stocked shelves with toys supplied by a wonderful donation from the Lego Foundation.

Neighbouring ECD centers and caregivers have been invited to bring their young children to enjoy the facilities and engage in structured playbased learning. We plan to open a toy library in Alex before expanding to all our centres. Please contact us to donate educational toys, shelving or carpets. Thank you!

Doing it for our girls

The first two Teenage Girls Clubs have opened at Jabavu and Pimville and they’re exceeding our dreams! Each club has 25 girl members aged 10 to 16; and uses a blend of activities (like debating, grooming classes, life skills and access to sanitary wear) to build girls’ confidence, ambition and inspiration.

Granny Lucy’s 15-year-old grandchild is a Pimville member and Lucy can’t believe what a difference it’s made.

“My granddaughter is now keen to attend school throughout the month and spends more time at ACFS. She’s found a purpose in life and is dreaming big for herself.”

We aim to open clubs at Zola and Naledi next. Please contact us to volunteer or donate stationery, school kit, clothes, sanitary towels or toiletries.

Please do try and get involved. This is where we can help our girl children become successful. Thank you!

MySchool card

We like every swipe

Have you selected the ACFS as a beneficiary on your MySchool card yet? There can’t be an easier way to give without giving!

Simply sign up at www.myschool.co.za and add ACFS Community Education as a beneficiary. You can select up to three beneficiaries. Every time you buy from a partner store like Woolworths, Engen or Bidvest Waltons, your beneficiaries will get a percentage of your spend at no cost to you.

So sign up today! We like every swipe.

Jump aboard our ship, and let’s Grow Giants

The winds of change are blowing at the ACFS and they’re steering our ship in a new and exciting direction! The next five years will see a rich strategy unfold under the leadership of ACFS Executive Director, Bertha Magoge, who took the helm in February 2019.

These changes should not be feared. Adapting to the needs of the day is essential to the survival of any organisation.

The ACFS has already changed tack a few times since it was founded 75 years ago by Bishop Trevor Huddleston. Back then, it was the original peanut butter sandwich and milk feeding scheme.

But 25 years ago, the shift to a more holistic approach to child development took root; and ACFS changed its name to include the concept “community education”.

The humble PB sandwich and milk remains our flagship source of nourishment. Our communities live in dire poverty and these tasty sandwiches continue to attract hungry children to our centres.

But with just a few tweaks – and with your support – the ACFS can make a much bigger impact on their lives.

The 21st century presents new challenges to vulnerable children and their families. It’s essential that we transform to ensure we don’t fail them.

So, in addition to nutrition, we want to provide children with educational support to help them mature into well nourished, independent thinkers who are capable of building a more prosperous future. We want to Grow Giants – and we do hope you share our vision.

In the next five years, we will be expanding our programme to include:

  • Early learning opportunities (such as Early Childhood Development, toy libraries, reading and structured homework support interventions);
  • Safety and social services provision (such as assessments, referrals and child safety);
  • Nutrition support (feeding, nutrition education, and health assessments); and
  • Education, training and skills development (the Teenage Girl Club and Computer Skills Programme for children; and sewing, beadwork and gardening skills for caregivers).

A number of these initiatives are already up-and- running and you will read about them in the pages that follow.

As you can see, the winds of change are blowing! So zip up your anorak and jump aboard the ACFS ship. The giants of tomorrow need your
support today.

Community food gardens

Supporters visit Centres

Vegetable garden

Pictured above: ACFS supporters visit the communal food gardens at our Zolo Community Centre.

On Thursday 27 February, we welcomed a group of eight of our generous supporters to the ACFS. The visitors enjoyed a full day’s tour of three of our Centres in Soweto.

Starting with Zola, the group had an opportunity to explore the new toy library and interact with the children. Afterwards, they toured the communal food gardens where they were impressed with the range and quality of the produce being grown.

Then it was off to Pimville and an opportunity to see our skills development programme in action. The visitors helped to prepare lunch for the children and settled down to enjoy some well earned refreshments of their own.

Our final stop for the afternoon was Meadowlands, where the new computer lab has just opened.

Encouraging our donor friends to come along and experience first hand what is being achieved with their help is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. And the children love having visitors and being able to sing for them and show off their educational skills. Thanks so much to Wendy, Alison, Fran, Jane, Karen, Frank, John and Amanda for spending the day with us.

Please click here for more photos of the visit.

Computer lab

New computer lab opens

Computer lab

Our new computer lab at ACFS Community Centre in Meadowlands, Soweto was officially launched on 26 February 2020.

The lab, which was developed with the help of the Vodacom Foundation, has 25 computers and 1 000 registered learners in grades 5-12. These kids do not have smart phones they can use to access the internet, or access to computers at their school. Thanks to free connectivity and data provided by Vodacom, these  kids can now develop computer skills, learn about the latest technology, and access the wealth of knowledge available through the Internet.

Although the lab has only just been officially opened, volunteers at the centre have been teaching basic computer literacy and helping pupils with their homework since 2019.

“In the beginning, the children didn’t know how to use a computer, how to type or what a mouse is,” explains volunteer teacher, Lucky Ndzunga. “Now they know the difference between a left and right click on a mouse and are able to search the internet.”

Ndzunga says illiteracy levels are high, but the educational software they use helps kids at the centre to read and write. Learners work in teams and sometimes compete against each other, with those who do well being rewarded with a chocolate. Matric pupils can use the lab to access previous exam papers and watch videos that explain subjects such as maths. Volunteers also assist matriculants with their university applications.

ACFS launched the computer lab in response to the need to do more than just feed hungry children. To escape from the poverty they have been born into, these children must be given the same opportunities as their more privileged peers to learn about the world around them, and become familiar with and comfortable using the technology of the future.

[Source: New Frame]

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