Ithemba Projects has a long term vision to make the community of Sweetwaters both self-sufficient and sustainable. It means that the progress, though at times slow and even painful, is rewarding, tangible, and the eventual change belongs firmly in the hands of the community. Too often aid projects waltz into failing, poor situations, give a glamorous make over and vanish in elusive puffs of smoke. As Ithemba Projects strives to develop a relationship with the community, as it works to make the inhabitants of Sweetwaters feel involved and responsible for this long term development , it is also firmly digging its heel into the red soil, planting itself within the community foundations.
Last week I was dismayed and frustrated at the lack of innovation and initiative the teachers at the Drop in Centre appeared to be showing. Was it because they expected something from my colleague and I? Were they waiting for us to take over for these few weeks? My JD was to work alongside and support the creche teachers, not take over. I firmly believe, and so does Ithemba, that one of the most important aspect of aid work is to encourage the locals; to make them believe in themselves and their potential to create the change they want. Yes, they might not always have the resources or even the education needed to start up a development project, that’s where aid charities come into play, but they do have the potential to continue them. By virtue of being human beings they are as capable to run a creche, teach a lesson, engage in community outreach, tree-planting, development, as someone from England.
Yesterday, the creche teachers demonstrated that – and my word were they good. Not only did they split the 19 screaming, laughing, singing children into two, smaller, more manageable groups, but they engaged them, of their own accord, in puzzles, drawings, outside play and songs. Ithemba Projects creche outreach, Asidlale, provides every creche under the Ithemba umbrella with teacher training, and daily schedules for class activities. Yet, perhaps the benefits of following these schedules isn’t fully recognized until the teachers claim it for their own. Seeing the positive response from the children could only have been a huge encouragement to the two creche teachers. I am excited to see how this burst of initiative flowers over the next few weeks.
Prayer for Day 11: That the creche teachers are inspired and encourage to continue following the Asidlale program. That a spirit of confidence is born within them, and the Drop in Center would flourish.