2013 has been a year of a few setbacks but also some great progress for our work at The Foundations Project. We started off the year with a piece of land and a plan to have children learning and have ended the year with 25 children having attended preschool for 9 months with twelve of those going off to Grade 1 in 2014.
Music for Hope was the fundraiser of the year and Theresa Craig, Muzi Dube and Tammy Dykes helped us tirelessly to pull off a superb, world class event (Live Aid here we come!) We had amazing artists donating their time and musical talent and put on an afternoon of entertainment including the Chisipite and Hellenic School orchestras and ending with the main event, The Rusike Brothers, getting everyone off their feet and dancing late into the night.
Unfortunately the event was rather overshadowed by the rain and the rugby so we did not make much money but all who came learnt more about The Foundations Project and our wonderful volunteer teachers got to have a day of fun away from the day-to-day life of Caledonia.
We held a St Patricks Day function at Elcombes Restaurant in Graniteside where we had fantastic donations of food and a live band that played late into the night. We were joined by guests from the Irish Embassy as well as other supporters who ate and drank in celebration of St Patrick and of our work.
However, where the fundraising was slow, we were moving quickly in our work in the community. 25 children paid $5 to register at the Caledonia ECD centre and our teachers underwent training provided by a local organization. They learnt a great deal and were able to take what they had gained back to the children and start to provide them with the intellectual, physical and emotional stimulation that they have been lacking. We feed these children a meal a day and hope that in the future, we will be able to provide this service to those children in the community who do not receive even one meal a day and who are in dire need of such a programme.
In July, we bought a shade cloth to protect the children from the heat of the day. And in October, we bought our first container classroom, a renovated container that was very kindly delivered free of charge by Brendon Malloch-Brown from CONTAINAWISE who has been incredibly supportive of our work thus far. We could now transport all the toys, books and puzzles that we have had donated to our classroom. The children’s eyes were out on stalks when they suddenly had the chance to play with the toys that had been donated. They laughed and played and shared together that day and have done so ever since.
We held our Christmas party at the Caledonia centre last week where those who were leaving us next year received a certificate and every child received a pair of shoes donated by a generous supporter. We invited some of the other children from the community to take part in the festivities and it was incredible to witness the difference between the children who have been going to our school and those who came to see what was going on. They are so much more socially and physically developed and they are confident and proud of who they are. The hope is that we can ensure that many more children end up this way in the years to come.
What we have to look forward to in 2014 is a small farm project that we hope to take on and assist with renovations and teacher training in the year ahead. The ECD centre on the farm currently caters for 33 children but they are all taught by one teacher, no matter what age they are and they learn in a run down classroom with no resources to speak of. Our hope is that we can provide renovations and resources and open up the school to many more children in the area. We also hope to feed the students at the school as well as those in the community who are not so fortunate as to receive any form of nutrition during their day.
We thank you all so much for your interest, prayers and ongoing support of our work and look forward to updating you as we move into a new year with new possibilities – the sky is the limit!