• Siyabonga


  • Siyabonga
  • Siyabonga
  • Siyabonga
  • Siyabonga


Young children (and their families) need health services, good nutrition, early stimulation, social services and support for their caregivers. These services need to reach children where they are, in their communities. (South African Child Gauge 2013)

The Siyabonga Helping Hands for Africa Centres at Esigodini and Imbali are two such places that assist the communities to achieve this. They allow us to get closer to our children, their families and the communities as a whole. Our level of commitment to the children in the townships changed with the building of the community centres. Structures create sustainability and a sense of place for the organisation within the community. A place where the children can come for meals and participate in educational programmes that go beyond the school curriculum. Our focus is specifically on upgrading English, Maths literacy and social activities. The division of grades into smaller groups enables the staff to manage the large numbers of children attending the centre.

The Educational Centres have been strategically placed close to two primary schools within the township areas of Pietermaritzburg (in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa). The Esigodini centre is approximately a 200m walk from Esigodini Primary School and the Imbali centre is just a few hundred metres from the IzwiLesizwe Primary School.

Our Social Worker, Phindi describes our Centres as “Home”. Each one is a safe place to talk, a place to forget the poverty, a place that instills hope. The Centres are a place to play, to participate in sports, to socialise with peers. As we are child-centred, the children feel loved unconditionally. We build a mutual trust and we address hard issues in a positive way with group talks to address social issues such as HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, sex education, cleanliness and nutrition. Our primary school children go through play therapy and have group discussions on topics such as HIV/AIDS and Xenophobia. Our social worker, Mbali, counsels the children and refers them on where necessary.

There is also netball for the girls and soccer for the boys. We run holiday programmes where they experience playing games and having fun. The activities strengthen their relationships with their peers as well as the staff at the Centres. At the Annual Christmas Party each child receives a gift and has an opportunity to thank the Siyabonga Helping Hands for Africa staff for all they do – an important life lesson.

We are committed to keeping the child at the centre of all we do, to make a difference to each one, giving them that helping hand up into their future.


Our primary school children (aged 6-13 years) arrive needing to feel valued. Each one needs nourishing food, help with their school work, to play with other children and to be loved.

We give each child the opportunity to improve their self-esteem. They can confidently go to school with their fees paid (where applicable) and a school uniform. They come to the centre for a hot meal every day and are supported through our education programme. The hot meal a day supplements the child’s nutrition which is often lacking at home and helps them focus on their education. We are here for the children to hold their hand, help them with problems and give them a chance to have a better life.

We run English reading and writing programmes as well as numeracy and computer skills programmes. We also give the learners assistance with homework when asked, run discussions on current affairs and take them on outings.

Since implementing the reading programme in 2010 for grade 3-7 learners at Esigodini, there has been a steady improvement in the learners’ reading ability. It has also been observed that the Esigodini children fared substantially better on an English assessment than their Imbali counterparts who have only been on this reading scheme for a year. This has a direct impact on their school performance.

Gr 1-3: these children enjoy educational play with a range of toys. They can use the mobile library (which has English and Zulu books), attend a computer and maths lesson once a week as well as participate in sport. The Gr 3s are introduced to English reading at a basic level.

Reading Club: A group of 40 Gr 3 children meet with Zama every Friday. She plans an hour of games, fun-filled activities and a story time. This has been a most successful addition to the programme and will hopefully engender a love of books and reading.

Gr 4-7: these children have a well-structured timetable for the week which includes the reading and maths programmes, a computer lesson, educational games and sport. We have introduced a computer- based literacy programme for Gr 5-7 which is designed to upgrade basic skills with each student working individually and at their own pace. Most learners have started at level 1 which covers Gr 1-3 work.


The township high schools our 250 learners attend are not all located in close proximity to the Educational Centres and this limits our interaction. A once weekly visit (usually a Friday) includes coaching, career guidance, debates on current affairs and access to resources (both books and via the internet). The social work room is full of information on different careers and universities to help guide the learners and so the high school learners are encouraged to spend Friday afternoons with Mbali working through the many career options. In addition to these discussions, we run a career winter school in July where students focus on career issues.

There are around 40 high school learners (aged 13-18 years) who attend the Centres during the week. They make use of the computer centre to do assignments as well as take part in an English programme which focuses on the improvement of comprehension and writing skills. We work alongside the learners to improve their English comprehension.

Our role with the high school learners is to get each sponsored child through matric. Passing matric is the key to success as without it the children can’t go to FET colleges, universities or even get a job. An excellent matric is the goal, though, as this opens doors for bursaries and universities, giving the child a variety of options. We also want each of our learners to attend their matric dance as it is a rite of passage, it is an acknowledgement of an exceptional achievement where each one can celebrate the success of achieving matric and create a memory they can hold onto for the rest of their life.




“The lack of effective early intervention, such as quality preschool education, means that children in privileged schools continue to enjoy a head start over children of the poor.”(Jansen)

The Siyabonga Playschool programme targets 4 year olds in the community. These children are not sponsored individually but rather this programme is a way for us to give back to the community as a whole. The staff at Esigodini have noticed that children who have been a part of this programme are better able to do general activities in Gr 1 than the children who haven’t been in the playschool.

Our staff have an Educare certificate and they follow a curriculum that includes a theme topic each week e.g. family, transport, health, calendar days and months and weather charts. Activities include fantasy play, art, baking, singing, sand and water play, puzzles and other educational games.

Health is an important topic and the children are given toothbrushes and toothpaste when the focus is personal hygiene. When covering the healthy eating theme, they plant spinach seedlings and care for them for a few weeks before taking them home. The children visit the museum as part of their theme on animals. The staff assess various skills each term and keep records on the children’s abilities and a report is written for each child at the end of the year.

Each child in the programme receives:

  • age-appropriate exposure to educational activities which help prepare them for primary school
  • a nutritious balanced breakfast and a mid-morning snack (each school morning)
  • clothing donations distributed at least twice a year

From 2016 onwards the selection criteria will be refined to first target the broader family of sponsored children in order to improve the overall prospects of the family as a whole and build an increasingly supportive learning environment within the family. There will be programmes running at both the Esigodini and Imbali Education Centres with places for up to 20 children in each.


There are 17 ladies that work under the guidance of Maggi Reinstorf at the Esigodini Centre and a further 5 who work out of the Imbali Centre under the guidance of Belinda Kidgell. The combined skills of these groups include cutting, sewing, fabric painting and embroidery. This project creates a range of beautiful items rooted in the Zulu culture but with a modern feel that has appeal both locally and overseas. The income generated helps the ladies to support their families.


A nominal fee is charged to adults for access to our computer centre for lessons in basic computer skills including keyboard/typing and MS Office. These classes are scheduled in the mornings when our learners are at school. The new skills improve the employment prospects of the attendees.