2013 Cape Town- “Birth to Three” project

After 4 weeks of training, visiting and meetings in Cape Town I am now back in Norway. Yet again I am filled with impressions and will endeavor to give a resume of the past weeks.

Nomathemba & I were running a two week course on baby care (Birth to Three)
The first week 9 students attended and by the second week we were up to 12 students, including some from last year.

Because the classes were not large, we were able to connect with the students in a more positive way and everybody was visible and could participate all the time. Which they did, many questions and comments were raised, as we discussed the subject of the day (see attached program of the course).

Nomathemba and I worked as a team and she did all the craftwork and helping out with translating, discussion groups and exercises that we did during the course.
We both felt that the course had been successful and when we had an evaluation with the students about how they understood the course and if and how they could implement what they had learned, we received many answers amongst, such as:

  • I have learned the importance of being present when I meet a child and will try to work like that when I get back to my group.
  • I have learned about using the touch, the way I look at the child and how I use my voice – these are some of the things I will bring back to my class.
  • I will also try to implement what I have learned into my own family and my children at home.
  • I want to bring back happiness, love and joy
  • I want to teach the parents how to look after their child

We also get many questions from the students, for example:

  • How can I deal with a child who is following me all the time?
  • What can I do if the child is crying all the time?
  • How can I deal with a group of 20-25 toddlers or more?
  • How do you tell the babies how much you love them?

We didn’t have time to discuss all the questions raised, but these are issues that can be worked on in the workshops which Nomathemba, Mary-G and Tobias run throughout the year

Craft work; 1st week we made simple dolls and 2nd week we made felt balls.
At the end of the two weeks we invited the principals from the Centers that were represented at the course and did a recap of what we had done during those two weeks. We also talked about the importance of supporting each other and to work as a team, something which does not always happen in the centers.

The Students who had attended the two Modules of the course and the two workshops since last year each received a Certificate for attending the courses (see att. certificate)

someofthestudentoneoftheclasses

Some of the students receiving their Certificates! One of the classes

Working with the pedagogical plan; Caring for Infants, Birth to Three

Ann Sharfman and I are working on a plan that can be used for trainers who are running courses for children from “Birth to Three”.
We worked every afternoon, sometimes in the evening and over weekends. I must say that I am very grateful to Ann who so willingly agreed to do this work with me utilizing her experience in the writing up of modules and plans for the work here and in Nairobi. THANK YOU ANN!
But we are not quite finished yet – this is only our first draft.
It was more work than we anticipated. But we hope it can be used as an inspiration for people who are working with babies and toddlers around the world. (See attachment; Contents of the pedagogical plan)

Visiting Educare Centers:

toddlers playing with the wodden boxes the balss in ikwesi educare center
Toddlers playing with the wooden boxes & the balls in Ikwesi Educare Center.

The first week we visited different Educare Centers; among others we went to Ikwesi Educare center.
They have two groups, one with 12 babies from 2 to 3 months up to one year 5 years, and a playgroup with ca. 30 toddlers from one and half years up to two and half/three years.
We spent time with the babies this time and it was a happy little group.
I can see some difference in how the teachers are meeting the babies and Nomathemba confirmed that there has been a change. We also saw that the teachers are now are taking the babies outside in the shade (which they didn’t before) and that the children get enough to drink during the day.
It is difficult to observe what is happening in such a short time, but with Nomathemba frequently visiting throughout the year, it will be possible to see how things develop and improve.
We had talks with the teachers and the principals and it seems like the working together is also improving.

Visiting Masiphumelele
I was fortunate to visit to Masiphumelele; a township near Noordhoek in Cape Town.
Robyn together with Eefka from ECD is running a workshop for women in the Township and the subject that week was the foundation of child’s development, “Birth to Three”. I was invited to visit them one afternoon during their training.
It was a lovely experience for me to be part of that and to join into their lesson with some of my own thoughts around the little child!

Interview with Nomathemba

nomathemba2 nomathemba1
The last thing I did during my weeks in Cape Town was an interview with
Nomathemba;
Where were you born and where did you grow up? How did you spend your childhood?
I was born in Stellenbosch north of Cape Town 28.10 1972. I was the youngest of four children My Father was working in a shop and my mother was a domestic worker. I stayed with my aunt the first few years, then with my mum and dad until I was nine, before I went to Eastern Cape and stayed with my grandmother. Later I moved to Cape Town to stay with my mother.

I had my two daughters in 1997 and 2003; both are attending the Waldorf School today and we are living together in Cape Town.

How did you get in touch with Waldorf education?
After my matriculation I worked for a short while in a shop before I worked as a domestic worker in a family who had their children at the Waldorf School in Cape Town. That’s how I got in touch with Waldorf Education and it lead to my training 1998/99 and later in 2008/09.
I worked as an assistant at Mikael Oak Waldorf School before I joined the Centre for Creative Education as a fieldworker and now I am also working 25% with the “Birth to Three” project

What is your opinion about Waldorf Education and how do you think it can affect the smallest child in the Township?
I always think that Waldorf education is important because the children can grow up more freely; they have enough space and time to be a child. I am thinking about my own childhood where there was a lack of many of the things and I don’t wish the same for my children.
I see happy children in Waldorf schools and I want to give my own children and others the opportunity to have a good childhood.

Can you give a picture of an average family with small children in the Township today?
Parents in the Townships today are scared (because of crime), that something will happen to their children so they bring them to the Educare Centres (EC) where they know that they are safe and will get something to eat. At home they let the children watch TV and TV-games so that they will stay home and not in the street.
We also have many very young girls (down to 12/13 years) that are having babies and they are not able to look after them, they might be on drugs or (hopefully) they go back to school.
The grannies are the ones, who take the responsibilities, but they are also the ones who are working and supporting the whole family, which again means that they need to bring the babies to EC when they are very young and usually they stay from early morning till late.

What is your vision for the future and especially for the project; Caring for “Birth to Three”?
I would like to see the project grow and make some difference in many children’s life; there are two areas in which I think it is important to work. One is working together with the parents in the EC, because if they understand how important the first years of life are for their children they will look to the EC and see how they are working. And parents in the Townships have a strong voice. If they want something changed, they will be heard. With support from the parents it will also be easier for us to work with the teachers at the Centres

The other area would be to talk to young people in schools here in SA and around the world, because I have seen so many volunteers from Germany, coming here to work in the EC for a year and experience the real life in the Townships. I have seen how it has changed their lives and attitude towards human beings in every age. A child is a child no matter where they come from, which religion or culture, what colour of the skin…etc.
We have to look at our roots, which we have in common to understand the needs of a child wherever they are born on this earth.

Thank you Nomathemba for sharing your thoughts with us.

Thanks again to Stjerneglimt for supporting and fundraising for this work.
I would like to mention one donor, Katja, now 15 year. Katja is a former pupil in the Stjerneglimt kindergarten and has been following the work I have done in Cape Town. She started in Stjerneglimt almost 13 years ago, first as an unaware young child and today she is a caring, thinking teenager. She decided to help and before Christmas she baked and made sweets to sell at our annual marked. Katja’s personal efforts raised €350, which she gave to me and said I should use it for the children in Cape Town. Thanks to her kindness and hard work, we bought many wooden boxes for the children to play in (see the picture from Ikwesi Centre). The boxes are a valuable tool for children, especially in the development of their sense of movement. Thank you Katja

And of course I want to thank IASWECE who have been and still are supporting this work!

Arendal, Norway 9. April 2013

Eldbjørg Gjessing Paulsen

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