Hamba Bamba Funda celebrates Nelson Mandela Day by empowering early childhood education in Meadowlands

Hamba Bamba Funda (HBF), a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for early childhood education in under-resourced communities like Soweto, commemorated Nelson Mandela Day with a special event at the Meadowlands Welfare Centre. Led by Monja Boonzaier, the founding Director of HBF, the event emphasized the importance of active parent-child participation and celebrated Mandela’s birthday and his lifelong fight for human rights.

Nelson Mandela’s unwavering belief in the transformative power of education serves as the guiding principle for HBF. Inspired by his words ” “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can change the world” the organization chose the theme of “active parent-child participation” for the event.

It is disheartening to recognize that in South Africa, early childhood education programs often begin at the age of 3, neglecting the critical first 2 years of a child’s life. However, these initial 1.5 years represent a crucial period for brain development, shaping a child’s future. HBF aims to highlight and address this critical gap.

Over the past year, Hamba Bamba Funda has made significant strides in advocating for early childhood education from birth. In 2022 HBF hosted a live broadcast in Kliptown, Soweto, involving 10 mothers and babies on Nelson Mandela Day. This year, they expanded their reach by hosting another live broadcast and engaging approximately 50 mothers and their babies in Meadowlands. Monja Boonzaier expressed delight, stating, “The progress we have witnessed in our work and the positive response within the communities in such a short time has exceeded all expectations.”

To ensure the event’s success, HBF had the privilege of hosting esteemed experts from international and local organizations virtually. Three international child space trainers, including Dr. Chava Shelhav, the founder of the Child’Space Method, as well as Orly Gat and Barbara Leverone, both Child ‘Space trainers, shared their knowledge and expertise. They were joined by local representatives from the Greater Sowetan Association of ECD (Evelyn Mbombi) and the Heartlines/Father’s Matter program (Fikele Poka). This collaboration highlighted the significance of the cause and the organization’s commitment to making a lasting impact.

The event commenced with a minute of silence, paying tribute to Nelson Mandela and providing participants with an opportunity to reflect on his remarkable legacy and the values he espoused throughout his life.

Monja Boonzaier encouraged everyone to observe the collective action taking place for the next 67 minutes. Educators generously shared their knowledge with community members, while mothers and caregivers actively engaged with their babies, nurturing their growth and unlocking their potential. This demonstration of unity embodied the spirit of Ubuntu, which Mandela exemplified.

HBF extends heartfelt gratitude to the City of Johannesburg for their support in organizing the event and to all the participating mothers and babies. Together, let us honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy by working towards a future where every child, regardless of their circumstances, has access to quality early childhood education.

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