The Early Childhood Development project of Rays of Hope had an excellent start to 2017 when a visit to five of the crèches in Alex showed just how well they are doing.
“We work very hard to assist these crèche-owners with essential tools to offer their young charges the best possible start to life,” explains Christy Bennet, project coordinator. “At the start of each year we go around and review the crèches’ needs. It is clear from this visit that the foundations laid down last year are bearing fruit. Currently we have fifteen crèches on our books but we plan to increase this number in 2017.”
Early Childhood Development provides sustainable support to the crèches. “This is not a short-term project. We are in it for the long haul. We partner with the crèches for a couple of years until they are fully-equipped. Then we let them fly solo and we take more units on board.”
Assistance takes several forms. Provision of basic nutritional foods helps the children to achieve a balanced diet and this is part of a larger programme of nutritional training for the crèche-owners, who cannot rely solely on food provided by Rays of Hope. This training also includes providing simple and practical menus to use for meal plans.
Christy tells us more. “We offer important training to these women, many of whom do not have the necessary skills to run a successful crèche. Apart from nutrition, reading is essential to intellectual development and we provide books and set up reading corners. Many crèches are set up in small spaces and we help them to optimise the use of space in order to provide a supportive and happy environment. Part of this process is to advise on decorating the area. A fresh, colourful, pretty environment has an amazing effect on the well-being of the children. Another aspect we teach is the importance of a daily routine to establish a pattern of certainty for the children.”
Games and play therapy are used to improve the young children’s gross and fine motor skills and to improve interpersonal skills and communication.
The project offers crèche-owners seminars throughout the year, where outside experts are brought in. “These sessions involve teaching in core strength development and other physiotherapy-related techniques, for example.”
Judging by the exuberance of the children in these crèches, 2017 looks like it will be a bumper year for everyone concerned.