I recently had the privilege of visiting our projects in Gauteng with our resident photographer, Andre Malan. The site visits were insightful and inspiring. It amazes me how Cotlands is able to penetrate communities and make such life altering differences.
Since starting our early childhood development programmes we have seen children develop confidence and a sense of self that enables them to explore and be curious. As Brutus – the Olivenhoutbosh toy librarian – says, children are like blank pages and we have to write the positives before anyone else has a chance to write negatives into their lives.
At our mobile toy library site in Soweto, I met the most fascinating 2 year old. She was bold and full of life. What I found particularly interesting was her ability to work with seemingly complex puzzles at this young age. She did not shy away from games that the older children played and her ability to identify shapes and colours was fascinating to watch. It was clear that she was not repeating sounds in parrot fashion but rather understood these simple maths concepts.
This for me reaffirmed my belief in the work we do. I love our non-centre based early learning model because it is inclusive of children from all walks of life. Children who would not ordinarily access quality early learning programmes are now given an opportunity to compete at a higher level.
During our 3 day trip I was touched by the unwavering dedication of our staff. In some of the areas in which we work there are no ablution facilities, no electricity and sometimes the refuse in the area hasn’t been collected for months, giving off the most pungent of smells. Despite the harsh conditions their passion and compassion for children is evident in their work. They creatively engineer spaces for children to play and learn in a safe and hygienic environment.
We look forward to sharing photos from our inspiring projects with you in the months to come.