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!
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.
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.
… even those born into poverty, hunger and hardship.
That’s why we’re so grateful to all those kind people who celebrated Mandela Day by contributing to the new Toy Libraries at our Alexandra and Zola Centres.
It was incredibly heartwarming to see those little faces lighting up with shy smiles … which turned to huge grins when they realised they were actually allowed to take home the box of building blocks, book, puzzle or babydoll they were playing with!
ACFS has been feeding hungry children for over 70 years … and this will always be at the heart of our work. But we want to do more.
Because, children growing up in poverty don’t only suffer from hunger. They also lack the chance to learn through play. When a family struggles to put food on the table, toys are an unaffordable luxury.
But a hungry child is just like any other child … filled with curiosity, eager to explore the world and learn how things work. They can grow into giants if we let them!
And – since they are already coming to our centres to get their peanut butter sandwiches and milk – why not start right here?
With support from friends like you, we want to expand our centres into community hubs … places that draw eager children, young adults and their parents and grandparents as well, to access a range of resources:
Children’s feeding scheme
Early childhood learning and development
Mentorship from older children
Teenage Girls’ clubs, covering subjects like menstruation and sexuality, making responsible choices, birth control, etc.
Computer labs where older children can access the internet for homework and recreation
Skills development – sewing, beading, baking, food gardening and more
Please support us as we expand our focus to bring about real change in the lives of underprivileged children, their families and the community. Help us ‘grow giants’ with big dreams, curious minds and the ability to thrive despite the challenges they face.