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FNB supporting women in rural communities
South Africa: The Good News Translate This Article
22 August 2012
Supported by FNB, the Angus Gillis Foundation (AGF) encourages women in rural communities to take active steps in controlling and positively shaping their lives, and the future of their children and communities.
Established in 2002, the AGF established the Early Childhood Development Programme (ECD) which equips and trains women with the skills and confidence to address the needs of their communities. Under this programme community-run 'safe parks' or informal pre- schools have been formed to provide a safe and stimulating environment for local children to play and learn. Development within each location is designed to address the specific needs of the respective communities.
Lucy O'Keeffe, Director at Angus Gillis says that 'The Angus Gillis Foundation places strong emphasis on developing and mentoring ethical, transformative and service-oriented leadership which is sorely needed at every level in South Africa. Individuals act as role models and champions for change in communities and we are honoured to work alongside incredible, strong and dedicated rural women who are playing this role.'
Development is not only about material resources, it is about enabling people to recognise and fulfil their potential. 'There is a vast amount of human potential, (skills, knowledge, talent and assets), in our rural communities which is so often suppressed and unrecognised. Safe Parks focus on providing afterschool care whilst others run full daily programmes. These services are run on an entirely voluntary basis and the Angus Gillis Foundation provides training and support to the women's groups,' explains O'Keeffe.
Training, development and education at all level are key fundamentals that FNB looks at. 'It's great to see organisations like AGF taking an active role in developing and assisting women in rural areas. They have made a difference to the communities they operate in,' says Howard Arrand, CEO FNB Fund.
The majority of children in South Africa lack access to quality ECD services especially in our rural areas. As part of a broader self-help group approach, the community-run 'Safe Parks' not only benefit the children that they serve on a daily basis, but they become a social space for women to share their challenges and to build relationships and networks of support - they become a hub for community development initiatives in the village.
When asked about the programme, a Self-Help Group member said, 'We encourage each other and by acknowledging our weaknesses, we become stronger and fruitful as we work on them'.
'Starting positively by acknowledging and valuing what people already have is intrinsically empowering and, more importantly, it shifts the power dynamic and enables individuals and communities to become equal partners in the development of initiatives rather than simply beneficiaries,' adds O'Keeffe.
'We will continue to support organisations like the AGF, who place great importance on the upliftment and empowerment of women in society,' concludes Arrand.
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