Siyabathanda Abantwana or “We Love our Children” was established by the Matimatolo community together with LETCEE in May 2007. Matimatolo was the first community with which LETCEE began to use their current home based ECD model, after learning many difficult lessons in previous projects, and thus the model was originally named the Siyabathanda Abantwana or “Siya” model.
There are currently 10 Abahambi working in Matimatolo. Some of these women have been part of the project since its inception and others were elected by the community committee as the need arose. The Abahambi have received accredited NQF Level One ECD Training from LETCEE as well as ongoing workshops on various topics. The Abahambi are officially working with 219 children between the ages of 0 and 6 years old. There are however many children from neighbouring homes who join the morning play sessions. There are 99 families in the programme and there are 353 adults and 183 children between the ages of 7 and 14 years old in these families. There are currently 9 children with disabilities involved in the programme.
The Buddy programme began in Matimatolo in September 2008 and there are 30 Buddies in the Matimatolo area. Each Buddy received a toy bag at the start of the programme and they volunteer their time after school to play energetic games and read to younger children.
Siyabathanda Abantwana's Toy Library is currently a mobile service. LETCEE staff take the toys out twice a month where the FFs can exchange toys to use in their sessions with the young children. In April 2008 a playground was built for use by the community in a central position next to the crèche and community clinic and nearby the local police station. Funding has now been secured to erect a Toy Library next to the playground and by the end of January 2012 this should be fully operational.
Many thanks go to Jim Joel who continue to faithfully fund this programme and make a huge difference in the lives of the children and community of Matimatolo.