WHAT’S HAPPENING - SWAZILAND
AFRICA Seed’s work with groups in Africa ranges from small grassroots groups to formal, medium-sized and national organizations. We would like to present some of the individuals we have worked with as well as the groups and organizations. They are: Autism Swaziland, Ms. Elizabeth Mhkabela, and the Swaziland Network for Early Childhood Development (the equivalent to the U.S.A. National Association for the Education of Young Children).
AFRICA Seed reviews requests from Africa-based groups to decide whether we can work both WITH and FOR a contact— where we can not only assist but learn from them. If so, we proceed to arrange a visit. Typically we take interested citizens from the U.S.,such as Karen Smith from Ohio and Charles Sheridan from New Jersey. It is often their first trip to the continent. Part of the mission of AFRICA Seed to help U.S. citizens get a real experience of an African community or communities. One of the four women hosts on our Fall 2016 trip to Swaziland was Tryphinah Mvubu.
Swaziland is still at an awareness stage in as far as issues of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are concerned and does not have statistics on autism yet, but according to engagement with some pediatricians and therapists, about 6 in 10 children that visit the Kingdom’s hospitals exhibit symptoms of autism. These children live with families and communities where ASD exists yet they have no knowledge of what ASD is. Thus this intervention encourages early identification for early intervention.
Due to the escalating problems on ASD cases in Swaziland, there is need for a Rehabilitation Centre that will support children and families who have been affected by this condition, as per the mandate of United Nations, Resolution 62/139, tabled by the state of Qatar, 62nd Assembly Session.
Autism Swaziland is a nonprofit organization whose mission and vision is: to focus on children and families affected by ASD by giving support, rehabilitation, awareness, advocacy, and protection as well as psychosocial support to their families in order to bring hope to children with ASD and their families.
This program is a product of personal encounter as a mother of a child with autism. Having seen the challenges experienced by children with autism and their families, “I had to [work to] mitigating the impact of this condition. The greatest pain of a parent with a child with ASD is to see the child with needs that cannot be communicated and thus not met. Because the condition is misunderstood, most children with ASD are called names and often called ‘spoiled brats.’ This is because people lack understanding.” —Typhinah Mvubu, AUTISM SWAZILAND
Tryphinah is a member of the Swaziland Network for Early Childhood Development.
Box. C1997, Hub, Swaziland,
Office: Hyatt Centre Building, Office NO6, Corner Mapheka & Villiers Street, Manzini, Swaziland
OUR HOST IN SWAZILAND
A Most Remarkable Woman
Elizabeth works with an NGO called Bantwana Initiative and is an Early Childhood Development Officer.
Her duties include:
Responsible for mobilization of community participation to preschool development plan within the catchment areas;
Develop and implement interventions to improve access to high quality ECDE services in line to goals of the Ministry of Education as outlined in the Education Sector Policy;
Provide technical guidance to develop capacity in preschools to provide counseling and children HIV/AIDS prevention services;
Oversee development of relevant counseling and psychosocial curricular and training materials to help build capacity of various preschool supporting groups;
Work closely with external consultant in the development of training materials to be utilized in participant preschools;
Keep abreast of new work in technical areas and disseminate new knowledge to program staff;
Collaborate with other program staff to ensure timely delivery of products and regular reporting; and
Advocate and promote scale-up of best practices in preschool counseling, and psychosocial support services.
Elizabeth contacted AFRICA Seed back in 2013 via email. It was a busy year and the possibilities of this contact were not pursued. Upon reviewing email contacts in 2016 to prepare for our 25th anniversary in 2017, Elizabeth was contacted for more info about what she and others were doing for early childhood education in her small country.
It was clear that there were serious efforts to upgrade and systematize provision of quality early education and health services to all children, including the disabled from cities to rural areas. Upon arriving in Swaziland and seeing for ourselves, it turned out to be far more serious and formalized than we imaged!
She has now started a community preschool at her home, where she has trained two teachers and at present has 15 preschoolers. These children could not afford to go to preschool and were left at home.
"It is hard because I have to pay the teachers from my salary, and also the supplies for the school, but this is my heart. And then I do the preschool teacher training on weekends to empower the women with knowledge and improve on our early childhood professionals in Swaziland because many of these teachers do not have opportunities to study."
Elizabeth also volunteers at the Swaziland Network for Early Childhood Development as its secretary, organizing guest speakers, venues, and bringing members together.
6th Floor, Sivuno Building
P.O. Box 6006, Manzini M200, Swaziland
Trying to change from rows of seats and a blackboard where the center of the school experience is the teacher, to children learning from exploring and the repetition of games instead of the repetition of required recitations, and free play where children choose what they will investigate and what skills they choose to strengthen will take years. But the concept of Learning Through Play being presented is a start.
SWAZILAND NETWORK for
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT SNECD
Church Forum on HIV/AIDS
Reverend Zwanini Shabalala
The Swaziland Network for Early Childhood Development (SNECD) was established in 2014 to coordinate early childhood development (ECD) issues in Swaziland. The network started meeting in the Church Forum on HIV and AIDS office and was launched later in the year by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland. SNECD has been hosting monthly ECD coordination meetings from the time the network was launched. Through these meetings the network shares information about some of the current issues in the field of ECD in Swaziland and globally. Some of the activities that have been implemented by the network include National Conference on Early Childhood Development and Education, Capacity Building Workshops, development of a website, and Mapping of ECD experts, mapping of ECD actors, the Development of a Country fact sheet for Swaziland, and the mapping of researchers in the area of early childhood development. This five-year strategy (2017-2022) proposes four areas of operations: Education and Nature, Health and Nutrition, Child Protection and Psychosocial Support, and Children with Special Needs.
The Church Forum on HIV and AIDS is formed by the Swaziland Conference of Churches, League of Churches, Council of Swaziland Churches, Swaziland Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist, and International Tabernacle Ministries.
Since the Church Forum’s establishment, capacity building for the entire Church on HIV and AIDS programs has been strengthened. The Church Forum supports a total of 90 Church-based NCPs nationwide through food development and psychosocial support and 35 permanent NCP structures are to be constructed soon in the different constituencies of the four regions of Swaziland.
SWAZILAND NETWORK for EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
P.O. Box 5924 Manzini
Plot 522 Coates Valley, Tenburgen Street