ICS Tearfund South Africa Project Case Study

Durban is a culturally diverse, vibrant, friendly city. Situated between the shores of the Indian Ocean, with breathtakingly beautiful coastline and the incredible Valleys of a 1000 Hills, it is one of the largest cities here in the Kwazulu-Natal province. As a city that breathes diversity, it hosts the largest Indian population outside of India itself, alongside many other nationalities and cultures. Mahatma Ghandi, the spiritual leader of the India independence movement, started his journey here in Durban. With almost 3.5 million people living in Durban, the city faces many different struggles with poverty affecting many with lasting impacts on their futures and opportunities for progression or improvement in their daily lives.

As a team of 7 girls from South Africa and the UK, we were placed in five different crèches in the inner city of Durban. Many of us had certain assumptions and expectations of what was ahead of us. We were given handover notes, ECD reports and helpful training in what was expected of us from Zoe-life. We all felt ready and raring to go and make a difference, helping to change our world! However, the reality of how challenging this was often going to be soon hit us and we quickly realised that it was going to take a lot more than a few cuddles and a smile to make a sustainable and significant impact.car

Carmenello’s definitely made all that time and effort completely worth it. Though we were met with slight disorder and a lack of resources/ toys on the first day, we were quickly encouraged that this was only the case because it was the beginning of term. By the second day all the teachers were back and ready to start classes again, allowing us to begin to observe properly. If we’re honest we focused a lot on the insignificant negatives of the crèche at first, due to only having knowledge of registered crèches prior to this. However, after different discussions, experiences of other crèches that have had less help from ICS volunteers and reading assessments and ECD reports, we were able to see how far Carmenello had come and how much potential it had to achieving registration. Our mind sets had changed, and we believe that was the first (and one of the most important) changes that allowed us to make a real difference at Carmenello.

The staff were massively welcoming and appreciative of all we did right from the beginning, constantly thanking us and telling us that we were a blessing sent from Jesus, which really drove us to do all we could for them. This drive was pushed further as we learnt how and why Carmenello was first set up when our team leader carried out interviews with some of the crèches’ owners about the impacts the ICS volunteers have had on their crèches. They explained that all three owners had experienced real struggles with poverty and required a way of earning. This necessity, along with their love and passion for children, gave birth to Carmenello. They then went on to tell us that every bit of money any of them had was put into developing the crèche and allowing the children to have the best experience there possible. This selflessness and evident love for their children was really inspiring and allowed us to see how appreciated our contributions were.

These characteristics were also made evident to us through the teaching that was carried out. The grade car1R teacher carefully put together different exciting creative activities for the children to carry out and the masses of songs sung by the children were always the highlight of our days. However we noticed a lack of important academic lessons in the crèche. We then begun writing a grade R curriculum for Sherine so she was able to clearly see what was required to be taught to her class, along with a detailed timetable of which lessons to teach at what times/ days, to make sure that everything fitted in and nothing was forgotten. We also planned and printed numerous worksheets and lesson plans on science, maths, English, music, P.E., development and stories to give to the crèche so that they had some suggestions of what to teach, with the aim that they would inspire the teachers to create some of their own! We also taught six CIMCI lessons and multiple creative and active lessons (e.g. decorating biscuits, making bean bags and using them for P.E. lessons). The gratitude that they showed to us was overwhelming and made all the long hours of tedious paperwork more than worth it.

It was extremely important for us to work alongside the teachers rather than take over. We therefore went to the staff before carrying out anything and made it clear to them that we were open and eager to hear any of their priorities. This was when Eunice (3-4 year old teacher) first mentioned painting the crèche. The faded, filthy yellow walls reflected a neglected, unloved place, which certainly was not the case at Carmenello. As a team we sat down with the staff and planned how they would want it to look. We wanted to create a place of vibrancy and happiness that did reflect the really special atmosphere there, somewhere that they could simply look at and feel really proud to call their own. We were also able to get the staff and the kids involved in the actual painting by getting them to all do their hand print as a leaf on one of the trees that was painted. So after multiple long days of scrubbing the walls clean and painting, Carmenello was transformed into the new beautiful crèche that the owners now (very) proudly own. We also saw amazing repercussions of this by the surrounding community. Once the landlord had seen the transformation of the building he then sent in someone to paint the higher sections on the back wall that we weren’t able to reach, and to fill in the broken areas of the ground on the elevated section in the main room! We were then inspired to continue our painting streak as we took on the task of transforming the mouldy, spider and cockroach infested room out the back of the main building (which we think was previously a toilet due to the smell) into a beautiful, hygienic baby changing room. The babies were being changed out in the open on an old desk at the time so this was a definite priority for both the staff and for us. Again, after lots of scrubbing, painting, squeals when spiders got too near and laying down new carpet our new baby changing room was complete, and really lovely!

In our final weeks, when all of our plans had been fulfilled, we began to wonder what else we could squeeze in before our dreaded goodbye. We noticed that the children loved being in the outside area but were unable to play there as it was all concrete and unsafe for them so we began to think of ways that we could make the outside area more child friendly. It was then that we carried out a lesson on planting! S is amazing at collecting old bottles/ containers to use for creative activities so we used some of these as plant pots which the children decorated. We then got the children to fill the pots with soil and seeds that we provided and put them in outside area for the children to proudly watch grow. One of the volunteers working at Carmenello had been given a sum of money by a lady from her home area to spend on the project too which, after some prayer, was spent on further making the outside area into a safe and fun place for the children also. car2We bought rolls of fake grass to put down on top of the hard concrete, a blow up paddling pool that we filled with sand to make a sand pit, sand pit toys and skipping ropes! The children and staff were all blown away by the transformation that we were able to make which was an extremely touching and humbling experience.

Carmenello Day Care has been such a pleasure to be a part of over the last 8 weeks. When S asked us in our second week if we missed our families, E ensured us that they would be our family whilst we were there, so we didn’t have to feel like we were missing anything. This was definitely the case. The Carmenello family is so full of love for the children, the staff, us volunteers and for God, which really shines through in all they do. Though they still have work to do to gain registration, we have full belief that this will eventually be achieved, and that they’ll deserve every bit of it.

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