Masikhule takes positive action in time of Covid-19

Children during playtime at Masikhule.

Everyone is feeling the effects of Covid-19 and Masikhule is just one of the many NPOs in South Africa that found itself having to make daily adjustments as the situation developed, in order to best try and assist the communities it services.

Masikhule trains women from marginalised communities in early childhood development (ECD) so that they can educate and develop children up to five years of age.

With the closure of the ECD centres as a result of the lockdown, Masikhule had to stop its mentoring visits and suspend its training, but plans to increase training in the second half of the year to make up for any courses missed.

Of course the vulnerability of the children from the many ECD centres Masikhule works with in the Helderberg – from Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, through Rusthof, Lwandle, Asanda Village to Macassar – has been of grave concern, as well as the support required by principals and educators who are looked to as leaders in their communities.

Mashikhuleimmediately formed a WhatsApp group with principals of over 70 ECD centres so that it could assist with queries, information and advice.

Accordingly, the day after the ECD centres closed, the staff were at their pre-schools giving everything a spring-clean.

Other suggestions included catching up on administration, weekly planning development for the upcoming term, stock-taking, the updating of policies and procedures, and sorting through their resources and equipment.

Mashikhule ensured that verified information from the Department of Social Development was obtained and circulated, along with tips regarding sanitising, washing hands, and so forth, to ensure personal and environmental safety against the spread of the coronavirus.

Although Mashikhule’s office is closed, our team is available to offer support via cellphone and email.
The major concern of the feeding of the children – many of whom only eat at the ECD centres – was alleviated somewhat by the generous offer by JAM-South Africa (the organisation provides daily nutritious porridge to over 2 000 children in ECD centres with which Masikhule works) that the children could each take 1kg of cereal home with them which would supply breakfast for a month. Mashikhule is hoping to continue to supply this nutritious porridge during the lockdown period.

In an effort to support parents and offer fun ideas to help keep children busy in a constructive fashion, within a restricted space and with limited resources, Masikhule has been developing and posting daily activities on its community WhatsApp groups and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, where relevant information will also be shared as and when it becomes available.

Before the lockdown, Masikhule managed to secure funding from Golden Sunbeams – an NGO devoted to improving opportunities for disadvantaged children and their families – to purchase over
2 000 bars of soap.

Arrangements were made with principals in the various communities to distribute these.

This also provided an opportunity to educate others about hand washing and sanitizing.

“Being a small yet passionate team, Masikhule is flexible and solution-driven. We are doing what we can to support the people we work with and to uplift and encourage them where possible,” says founding director, Leanne Keet.

“We look forward to commencing our programmes as soon as possible and would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement. We salute the community for their courage and sense of ubuntu. Stay home and stay safe.”

Anybody who is wondering how to keep busy over the following weeks might consider knitting beanies – for babies and small children – and blankets for Masikhule’s Cast On 4 Kids, on Mandela Day.

Contact Sandy Immelman on sandy@masikhule.org for details.