The Kufunda kindergarten originated in 2003 in Iddlesleigh, a settlement on a farm near Kufunda Village. Patricia Mutsvandiyani, who worked as a security guard on that farm, found that many of the children who came to her to play were abused at home – either through sexual violence or as child labourers. Most of the children were orphans, malnourished and not well looked after at home. More and more children joined Patricia every day, eventually becoming a group of up to 40.
At the same time, through our work with communities, we were discovering a great concern and desire among the women in particular to work with the orphaned youngest children of their communities, and thus our work with supporting women in caring for women began. Initially it was primarily financial support to provide one good meal a day to the children in their daily care, as well as a small stipend for them. Since the global financial crisis the money has become scarce, but the love and the work continues, and we have realized how much further learning around early childhood care is making a difference.
We currently work with women running 13 kindergartens in 7 communities.
At this point our work is therefore focused on education of the caregivers. We facilitate workshops with community teachers on childhood development, educational play and practical toy making, and we do follow up visits in those kindergartens afterwards. In engaging with the children we put emphasis on play with self made toys and storytelling, and less on academic teaching, as the work of children is play and exploration!
The team also has regular trainings in the kindergarten in First Aid, health questions, and educational issues/syllabus, and we continue our toy making activities. We reach out to parents and community members by inviting them for monthly meetings, as well as giving presentations after each workshop where we explain our concept of education and show what we do with the children.
As part of our larger community, we join hands with others to build playgrounds in the communities (using the Oasis game).
Visit our Flickr photo-set of our work with the children.