Durban: Inner-city team’s first week in the crèches

Our team consists of 7 members: 3 South African girls and 3 UK girls plus myself as Team Leader, We are staying at Hippo Hide Backpackers in central Durban where we have been cooking for ourselves. We have been embracing each other’s culture eating a wide variation of food from traditional English ‘bangers and mash’, to local cuisine such as pap and chakalka!

This week we paired up and started our projects. As a team, we are working in ECD (Early Childhood Development) Centres in central Durban that are currently below government standard with the long term aim of getting them registered, and thus reducing the vulnerability of children. We are the third team to be doing this project, so following the advice of previous teams, we dedicated our time in the ECD centres this week to observing the running of their days and building relationships with the staff and children.

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It has been particularly difficult witnessing the way children are treated in some of our placements. Although it has been very daunting at times, we look forward to implementing change.

We quickly realised that due to South African term times, normal routines in most ECD centres will not be adopted until February. However, we have all had meetings with the owners and principles to discuss ECD reports completed by previous teams and plan our next steps. We have also all had the opportunity to work with the children and lead them in songs and games. Alongside this, we have spent the afternoons going over paperwork and planning what action will be made in the individual centres.

SF and A are the first volunteers in their placement so will be conducting an ECD report over 2 weeks to assess what needs to be done to reach registration.

Pairs AW and S, and ES and N have two ECD centres each as these ECD reports have been completed by previous teams.

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I spent each morning visiting a different ECD centre to observe and get to know the individual owners. I found this extremely beneficial and it was interesting to see how different all the crèches are. It has made me passionate to improve these places. The teachers are trying their best as they work 12 hours shifts. Most of them haven’t been trained so generally don’t know how to run the ECD centre or how to teach.

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