Our Celebrating Partners Project aims to recognise and highlight the work that is done by our implementing partners. We look at how book-sharing has benefited them as an organisation and their beneficiaries. Today we celebrate our partnership with The Western Cape Department of Health.
Importance of the first 1000 days
The First 1000 days of a child’s life starts from conception until a child’s second birthday. These first 1000 days are “a critical window to ensure that children survive and thrive”, as described by UNICEF.
The 1000 Days Organisation says that “the first 1000 days are a time of tremendous potential and enormous vulnerability. How well or how poorly mothers and children are nourished and cared for during this time has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive. This is because the first 1000 days are when a child’s brain begins to grow and develop and when the foundations for their lifelong health are built.”
UNICEF works closely with the Western Cape Department of Health and the Department of Social Development. Together they work to ensure a comprehensive focus on the first 1000 days and Mikhulu Trust’s book-sharing programme is one of the programmes offered by the initiative.
The Western Cape Department of Health
“The First 1000 Days Initiative is one of the priorities in the broader provincial strategic plan for the Western Cape”, explains Hilary Goeiman, the Provincial Project Manager for the First 1000 Days Initiative in the Western Cape. For this initiative, the Department of Health is implementing health specific interventions to ensure that they incorporate the essential elements; health, nutrition, opportunities for early learning, safety and security, and responsive care. “We want to make sure that children not only survive, but that they also thrive.”
Book-sharing is one of the ‘thrive’ activities.
Kaathima Ebrahim, Mikhulu Trust’s CEO, explains that Mikhulu Trust trains community health workers within the Western Cape Department of Health, who work with mothers in the First 1000 Days Initiative. “The community health workers are trained to introduce book-sharing and concepts of early stimulation to those mothers, to support them to engage in stimulating activities with their children, using wordless picture books.”
Hilary Goeiman expresses that “it was really great to have the opportunity to form a partnership with Mikhulu Trust that, as a collective, we could co-create and see how we can integrate an intervention that we know works.”
Kaathima echoes this sentiment; “the work with the community health workers and the libraries is part of a larger ‘whole of society’ project. We aim to create an eco-system of support for families traversing the First Thousand Days.” When children develop well and have a good relationship with their primary caregiver, their risk factors for adopting violent behaviours later in their lives is reduced. “This feeds into the larger Western Cape strategy and Safety Plan by the Western Cape Government.”
We look forward to our continued work together to help build stronger futures for South Africa’s children.