Masikhule is an NPO that trains, mentors and educates women in Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the Helderberg. This year is their 10th anniversary, and over the past decade they have achieved some remarkable results, with 1 825 women having been trained (nearly half of these were unemployed).

Following are some of the successes of the organisation with regards to this current year: 356 women trained; 13 basic ECD courses conducted, with 157 women trained; three advanced ECD courses conducted, with 41 ECD teachers trained and 30 early learning starter kits provided; two business courses for ECD conducted, with 25 principals and administrators trained and 22 office kits provided; six first 1 000 days workshops run, with 133 parents and community workers trained; 32 ECD centres mentored, with more than 1 800 children up to the age of six educated and cared for appropriately; eight reading corners installed; three food gardens installed; two ECD upgraded; and one early learning resource library created, stocked and launched.

Masikhule discovered early on that training in isolation is not optimal, and therefore introduced mentoring to make sure the lessons from the training courses are effectively implemented in the preschools and ECD Centres in the informal settlements. To this end, 30 creches — stretching from Sir Lowly's Pass through Lwandle, Asanda Village, Helderzicht, Faure and four in Klapmuts — are visited and mentored every month.

These centres nurture and educate more than 1 800 children between the ages of three months and three years, ensuring they are given a firm foundation for their futures education.

"We are immensely grateful to those who support us and provide finances to keep our organisation going," says Leanne Keet, founder of Masikhule. "Without donors, the company funding and community input we receive, we would not be able to make the sustainable difference we are making, empowering and uplifting women and children from areas in need surrounding the Helderberg.

"The latest venture to raise funds has been to launch our very own Masikhule Relate Bracelets, and we are hoping local businesses will gift or stock these proudly South African bracelets," she said.

"Another exciting development has been expanding our tight-knit group of five to include Lulama Ntulini. Lulu attended the Masikhule Basic and Advanced ECD Training Courses in 2013 and this, in her words, "laid the foundation for (her) future in ECD".

"She has accumulated a wealth of knowledge, skills and insight through various training opportunities and working in the ECD sector and will play an integral role in ensuring the successful running of our recently launched Early Learning Resource Library," said Ms Keet.

Masikhule is looking forward to a fruitful 2016, and encourages people to follow their progress on Facebook or Twitter or to sign up for their quarterly newsletter by emailing info@ masikhule.org Masikhule makes a positive contribution to the eradication of poverty in the Helderberg Basin, and believes that adult education, empowering women and ECD are crucial to the upliftment and transformation of rural and under-developed communities.

To find out how you can help, visit www.masikhule.org Sandy Immelman is the marketing and communication officer for Masikhule. Mary Wales and Lillian Damon working on a project at one of the Masikhule facilities. Celebrating life, and new opportunities through education. 

This article was first published by the Bolander on 02 Decmber 2015, click here for pdf version.