We are so proud of what we have achieved so far and look forward to expanding our reach!
Here are some stories that give you an idea about our work and the ways in which it benefits individuals in the field.
Nomonde grew up on the soft green slopes of Coffee Bay. She started a career as a chef at the local backpackers, later opening a pizza restaurant with her partner. She was invited onto the Board of Sustainable Coffee Bay NPO and then became involved in the world of Montessori education through Sustainable Coffee Bay's support of Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori School, the first pre-school in the area. She is much respected and sought-after for advice and counsel in the district.
Undertaking an accredited ECD training in Montessori in 2013, Nomonde started working at the school and went on to obtain the Level 5 qualification, continuing with First Children’s Professional Development Programme. Nomonde has not only grown into a phenomenal teacher and become integral to the day-to-day running of Ikhaya Labantwana, but she has also taken the further step of enrolling on the International Elementary Montessori training (6-12 yrs) at the Indaba Institute in Stellenbosch. Nomonde is a First Children Ambassador, working closely with the team in their training and mentoring support of the local schools, teachers and families, and is a true inspiration.
Dawn Brochenin Ikhaya Labantwana preschool in Coffee Bay with a group of 12 children gathering in a small Rondavel. The little school went from strength to strength and the waiting list grew. Dawn won government support and in 2013 a bigger school had been built to accommodate 60 children. Dawn was the only trained Montessori teacher and worked with 3 untrained assistants. She called for help through the Montessori network, appealing for teachers to come and work alongside her and Jennifer Moore, First Children’s programme director, responded to the Coffee Bay call.
Jen spent 6 months in Coffee Bay in 2013, teaching and mentoring a training programme, supported by the Montessori Centre SA. News travelled, and when Jen put out a call for another training course, over 30 people applied from the greater district. Dawn moved to Ikhaya to start another school in a nearby village and the First Children team continued to capacitate and upgrade other schools in the area. Four more schools have since come into existence from within the community, run by women who have been trained through First Children. These teachers aim to have a recognized qualification and register as NPOs with government to receive grant support and access to feeding schemes.
Thandiswa was one of a group of students to be mentored by First Children through her Montessori Training course in Cape Town in 2015. The group received guidance and support throughout their studies from Xoliswa Bala, a programme facilitator. Thandiswa had a vision for her community in Barcelona, a very poor area on the outskirts of Gugulethu in Cape Town: as a mother herself, she could see the need for safe places for working women to leave their children during the day and she wanted to create not only a secure place but an environment that would also be educational.
"I wanted to start my own school but it seemed impossible at the time. Montessori materials are very expensive! The First Children's material making workshops changed all that - I was able to make many of my own materials and start the school I always dreamt about".
Thandiswa started her school in 2015 and now employs two women who assist her in the classroom. She continues to attend the practical workshops and Xoliswa makes regular visits to give on-site mentorship and the school provides a stimulating and stable environment for 20 children ranging in age from 6 months to 6 years old.