Resourceful Young Children

Resourceful Young Children
Learning Brief


Keiskamma Trust

INTLANTSI - Creative Development essentials for Community Development

Category: Resourceful Young Children | Formalisation of human resource development | 12 May, 2013 - 19:24

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PROJECT BACKGROUND

The Creative Development programme, called Intlantsi, is a recent initiative of the Keiskamma Trust in the Peddie South district of the Eastern Cape. It was established in response to problems identified during our decade of providing poverty alleviation through art and HIV/AIDS programmes in the area. It aims to boost imaginative thinking and innovative solution finding amongst members of poverty-stricken communities in the Eastern Cape. It endeavours to help individuals boost self-esteem and deepen their personality capacity from early childhood development, thus bettering their chances of remaining HIV free and leading productive lives. 

KEY LESSON: Early on in the Keiskamma Trust’s history we responded to the urgent need for ECD sites and OVC caregivers. Over time, we developed a fuller understanding of care-workers’ difficulties in implementing their training and taking ownership of their roles. We often employ caregivers who have experienced the same level of trauma, deprivation and disadvantage as the vulnerable families, neighbours and communities they are serving. We have learnt that we cannot impact deeply upon our child beneficiaries without first investing in our programme operators and caregivers. This means first helping them heal and develop a healthy sense of self-worth.

INTRODUCING THE INTLANTSI PROGRAM

The Intlantsi program was initiated at 3 of the Keiskamma Trust OVC centres. Training was provided to the OVC caretakers, and new volunteers who had specialised education as therapeutic arts facilitators were brought in to run the Intlantsi activities. The OVC caretakers and the new volunteers also received basic training in early childhood and community development from the Rhodes Centre for Social Development.

The new program aimed to instil in youngsters a value of self worth, in which they recognise their own potential to be creative problem solvers in their communities. A guiding philosophy of the initiative is that the most sustainable solutions to problems are the result of homegrown creativity. Unfortunately, the addition of this new program brought unexpected challenges to the OVC/youth Centres.

IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES

Our application for funding was mainly focused on programme delivery to the children and on the long-term benefits to the larger community. The exploratory phase of Intlantsi exposed the original plan as over-dependent on newly recruited volunteers, and problematic in its proposed commencement of stipends without factoring in enough time to properly assess their suitability.

The introduction of a new system and new volunteers reorganised the social dynamic of the OVC care centres, upsetting existing staff members and causing confusion about roles and responsibilities. For instance, many full-time OVC caretakers felt threatened by the new volunteers as they received stipends and were perceived to be taking over the jobs of the caretakers. Others felt protective of their hard-earned relationships with the children and felt that the new volunteers were not respectful of these relationships.

The OVC Centre co-ordinators experienced role conflict as they were also appointed to be the Intlantsi project managers. In addition to their regular tasks they now had to manage growing tensions between the OVC caretakers and the volunteers.

OVC caretakers had expressed frustration at being left out of the decision making process regarding the new changes to the program activities.

People in impoverished communities are often attracted by the offer of stipends and training regardless of whether they understand or are suited to the nature of the work. Volunteers who were recruited and trained as therapeutic arts facilitators struggled in their new positions and a few resigned suddenly when they realised they were not suited to the work. This left an unexpected vacuum and jeopardised project implementation. We had spent money and resources on preparing them to be carers and then when they left we lost out financially.

Volunteers were paid small stipends but these were never intended to be living wages. When alternative, short-term work opportunities in the community became available individuals would stop their volunteer work and take on the new jobs. Their immediate financial needs override any medium term skill acquisition and longer-term employment opportunities. 

CREATIVE SOLUTIONS TO THESE CHALLENGES

The unexpected challenges caused by the new Intlantsi program meant that program managers and Centre co-ordinators had to come up with creative solutions of their own to deal with these issues. The following solutions were employed:

  • We decided to make ownership of Intlantsi more OVC Centre-based and give OVC Centre caretakers more say in the decision-making processes of the Centre.
  • OVC care-workers will be fully trained and supported in conducting the on site visits. They will be empowered to support and manage the volunteers, rather than having this role monopolised by the Intlantsi tutors.
  • We will empower the OVC Centre caretakers and co-ordinators to better understand the need for and purpose behind the new program and encourage them to assist, support, and manage the volunteers. We will give them the responsibility of volunteer coordination.
  • We will focus on self-awareness, esteem, and on-site mentoring offered by Intlantsi tutors and assist the carers to utilise their NACCW and ECD training, which they struggle to apply away from course venues.
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities will be set, and work will be divided evenly.
  • We aim to set very clear employment/volunteer boundaries. At each OVC centre a full-time OVC Centres co-ordinator will be employed to coordinate and monitor staff, caretakers, tutor and volunteer performance, and personal development. The co-ordinator will set out the roles and responsibilities of each position and will ensure that these boundaries are well maintained and understood by everyone working at the Centre. This will allow for transparency, clarity, and focus.
  • We will implement some volunteer system changes:  By prioritising the OVC staff for Intlantsi training, the skills will remain at the centres rather than being lost if volunteers leave. We have slowed volunteer engagement until OVC carers have completed their introductory sessions, and we have designed a more thorough selection process for volunteers.
  • In the future, anyone applying for training for a position that offers a stipend will be given more realistic information about what lies ahead. There will be a second experiential selection day for applicants. In order to reward committed volunteers, stipends will only commence once volunteers have completed all 6 introductory sessions and have been assessed. Whilst this requires a delay in stipend spending, and redirection of some funding into more training, it secures a more meaningful delivery of Intlantsi in the long-term.


Hamburg, Eastern Cape, South Africa


 (040) 678 1053


 www.keiskamma.org

In Short

This learning brief shows how managers at the Intlantsi Creative Development programme have learnt that they cannot impact the lives of their beneficiaries without first investing in the lives of their programme operators and OVC caregivers. Other organizations will benefit from seeing the challenges this program faced and their creative solutions.


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