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.

ICS Tearfund South Africa: Week 7/8 in the creche video

ICS South Africa: Week 3/4 in Creches video

Durban: Week 3 in the Creches

  IMG_0563This week we have all taught the first of our CIMCI (Community Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses) lessons on behaviour to each ECD centre. The lesson outlined what good behaviour is, and the importance of behaving well. We have also began to implement the behaviour strategy that encourages the use of a ‘Time Out’ space to replace disciplinary techniques such as hitting or shouting at children, and medals to reward children for good behaviour.IMG_7144

We have also all started the City Celebration project. This involves going into schools in deprived areas and helping to teach dance lessons. We have all really enjoyed working with children of a different age, and having the opportunity to take a break from the intense work at the ECD centres.

In Wondercare, AW and S have been focusing on the safety of the building. This has involved emailing electricians in Durban to try and find someone to volunteer to come and cover the open plug sockets, and visiting a local carpenter to try and close the toilets off to the public. Because Zamo (the Principle) has difficulty writing, AW and S have started the process of making teaching aids for the classrooms. An area of weakness identified in the ECD report of the previous team was student records and parent communication. Therefore, a registration form and parent information booklet has been typed up to address these issues, and will be taken into Wondercare next week. Furthermore, AW and S plan to use blackboard paint to create a noticeboard at the entrance to the crèche so parents can easily see any urgent notices.IMG_7081

We have also seen a real change of heart of the teachers this week in Praise . There have been significantly less incidents of children being hit, and lessons and activities lead by teachers have been very productive. Despite the initial resistance to the behaviour strategy, we have seen members of staff adopt it using the ‘Time Out’ space and reward system. Furthermore, staff have encouraged children to wash their hands before eating with running water and soap without prompts from ICS volunteers. However, it has become evident that children do not know how to wash their hands, so we plan to teach a CIMCI lesson on this next week.IMG_7146

In Noah, SF and A have continued to write their ECD report and implementing the behaviour strategy. S has started washing the walls in preparation to paint there. On Tuesday, we spent the whole day in the ECD centres, and SF and A were left alone with a toddler class because one of the teachers was not there this week, which they found challenging.IMG_0617

ES and N have also washed down the walls in Carmenellos in preparation to paint next week. N taught the 3-4 year olds shapes and numbers, and ES has been assisting the children as they write. It is great to see that the children are washing their hands using the tippy taps, despite this being very time consuming! Jess has been into Carmenellos this week to go through a grade R curriculum with the teachers so there is a clear record of what children should know. ES and N have also finalised a daily schedule that they plan to write up. ES has drawn up an alphabet to go on the walls which the children coloured in, that she has laminated and will take in next week.IMG_0579

In Disneyland Day Care Centre ES, N and I held a meeting with the owner to discuss the behaviour strategy, a detailed daily schedule, and grade R curriculum. They also held lessons for 3-4 year olds to teach basic things such as up and down, and bigger and smaller. Due to staffing, it has been a very challenging week. However, it has been very reassuring to see that a social worker has been paired with the ECD centre.

 I have been in a mixture of the ECD Centres this week, teaching the behaviour lesson and a phonics lesson as well as wiping down wall, facilitating song and games and having meeting with the owners to find out the next steps. In the afternoons, I have been sorting out policies, creating a visual timetable, communicating with companies, churches and charities, creating number posters and working out a filing system for each creche. IMG_0602

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.


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.


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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