David and I are reading “The Social Animal” by David Brooks at the moment. The first few chapters of the story (that is filled with social science research) confirms again and again the importance of early childhood stimulation for brain development. Asidlale (“Let’s Play” in isiZulu) is a programme iThemba started in order to equip early childhood care-givers in local creches (daycare/preschool centers) to stimulate and educate the children. Local volunteers from the Hilton community meet weekly with these creche teachers (many of whom have had no ECD training) and mentor them through a curriculum. iThemba recently received funding to conduct an assessment of these teachers. I wrote an article about it for the iThemba blog, which you should read right here! While I am not directly involved with Asidlale, I do often take teams to volunteer in these creches and get to be a part of the classroom fun for a while!
Please pray for these teachers who have such caring hearts. Many teachers take children home to keep looking after them when the creche officially closes for the day. Pray for the families of these children. At one creche there are over 80 children ranging from 1 year to 5 years old. Out of all of those children, just 3 come from two-parent homes. It is very difficult for a single, working parent to devote the time and attention that these young kids need.