We are a registered charity and community support group linking people in Devon UK with a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Our special interest is in children and young people’s education and welfare. We aim to fund training for teachers and young people and to help resource schools, pre-schools and educational initiatives.
Our partners in KZN
One of the exciting developments for Devon Centocow Link since becoming a registered charity is the potential for learning from and engaging with our partner non-profit organisations. This opportunity gives us further scope for assisting in new ventures as well as benefitting our current projects.
When I first visited Centocow in 2001 the Family Literacy Project was new but rapidly expanding. The project set out to improve child literacy skills by encouraging participation in early learning at home. This led to groups of women wanting to improve their reading skills. Groups of rural women met together and learnt to read and enjoy the benefits of having books in the household. Discussions emerged based on articles, child protection, health and parenting skills. By the time of my next visit in 2005 the first community libraries were set up and I was able to visit two in the Centocow area.
The organisation has gone from strength to strength. Outreach workers were trained and the projects now includes group reading clubs for children, newsletters and home visits to families, counselling and support for teenage girls and bursaries for higher level students.
The Family Literacy Project is based at Underberg some 30 miles from Centocow but Zimbile Dlamini, the co-ordinator comes from a village not far from Centocow. I met her in the early days of the project when she was involved in setting up the local community library.
Working with the Pre-Schools
We at DCL are privileged to employ Zimbile Dlamini on a casual basis to update us on the progress of the pre-schools, their training and financial situation. We felt that this role was much needed in order for us to be fully aware of the dynamics and needs of this very scattered group of rural pre-schools. Communication between us will help us to learn much more about the complexities of managing pre-schools within the cultural and economic climate of this rural area where some of the pre-schools are quite isolated.
There are now over 50 pre-schools with varying amounts of training and most with extremely poor resources and facilities.
For my visit this October Zimbile will arrange two meetings of the Isibani Sezwe Centocow Association, the association of pre-school teachers in the area and I will attend alongside her. The focus will be on Persona Doll training and a review and sharing of best practice activities.
One of the plans I hope to promote is the setting up of a group toy exchange so that funding can be used more effectively for resources.
Support our latest Project
Social and Community Care Workers
- • Health and social care workers, across Devon have first hand knowledge of how physical and mental health issues are impacted by poverty and homelessness. In Devon these roles are often being met by specialists from a range of nationalities who can bring a different perspective to their job.
How can their expertise be shared across the two countries?
- • Good teachers everywhere understand that the best future for their pupils lies in a good education. Teachers are juggling the demands of changing curricula with the welfare of children in their care.
Young People and Aids
- • With the growth of social media throughout the world, young people no longer need to suffer the stigma of HIV/Aids in isolation. Web sites and Facebook pages etc. allow young people to talk openly about the issues they face.
Young people from Devon get connected to KZN in South Africa. Websites from Devon and SA give a voice to young people facing the stigma of being HIV positive. Lets Talk.
Find out more.
Thanks to funding from the Simmons Grant Fund administered by the Quakers, Devon-Centocow-Link is pleased to be able to contribute to the funding of an exciting new project for teenage girls in Centocow.
Sibongile Mtungwa who grew up in this rural area was trained under the Women’s Leadership Training Programme (WLTP) in 1994. From a shy unassertive rural girl with the traditional prospects of an early marriage and the limitation of her background, she threw herself into the reflective and empowering principles of growth and development which underpin the training. After studying for a degree in Development Studies in Dublin University, Sibongile became the director of the WLTP in 2008
WLTP is a non for profit organisation which began in 1985. The aim of this project is to bring about changes in gender relationships. Girls will be empowered to advocate for their education and gender rights. They will be shown the educational and vocational opportunities which exist for them when they delay pregnancies and teenage marriages and learn how to refuse the roles which are culturally expected of them.
Sibongile will now return to her home area to train a group of 24 girls. From a 3 day residential workshop the girls will work together supported by their school and volunteers and work on building self- confidence, knowledge and broadening their world view. There are practical skills too which will enable some to find employment in birding in the local environment which is rich in biodiversity and rare indigenous forests well known for the variety of birds. Amakhuze and Madzikane, (nearby areas) both contain some of these precious indigenous forests and the newly trained girls could become involved in identifying and preserving different species of wildlife in their areas.
We wish Sibongile all the best in this new training scheme and look forward to developing our relationship with her and finding out more about the outcomes.
Read more information about the Women’s Leadership training Programme at https://www.wltp.co.za/who-we-are/