Our Mission

Generating growth for African children and communities devastated by HIV-AIDS and poverty, through the goodwill of people in the UK and elsewhere

GAGA Project - First Step Right Pre-school

First Step Right Pre-school

First Step Right Pre-school is a remarkable project. Currently over 190 children attend, from pre-school to grades 4 and 5. The project is set in the heart of a rural valley; Kwa-Ximba, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. As such the issues of poverty and HIV-AIDS persist and the need for an education has never been as important as it is here. The Pre-school has its fair share of daily obstacles but despite this they continue to deliver a first class education. The ultimate aim is for the school to be awarded state funding and together we are working towards this aim.

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First Step Right on Google Earth

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GAGA UK is a major contributor to First Step Right and we have invested heavily in the schools’ infrastructure but also the teachers themselves. We are working more closely with Frey’s, who own the land the school is situated on. Together we have started to fund the school covering many different bases. It is hoped in the future with state support and Frey’s help we can move onto another project and try to create a similar success. Visit project news to see what we have achieved at First Step Right.

First Step Right – Pre-School, Reports

When GAGA decided to support the Pre-school in February 2011, we informed the head teacher that we would like to see some increased level of community/parent involvement. A plan then came forward to run a clean-up day with the parents and children from the pre-school. It was a roaring success.

View the report from the Head mistress: Community Day - ‘First Step Right’

History of 'First Step Right'

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*Gael Lloyd-Tramaux, Director of First Step Right tells us about her project

“In 2004, the Manager of Crafcor Abattoir contacted GGA, a non –profit, non-governmental organisation, in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Crafcor abattoir lent us the land and the building where we are currently based and the NGO agreed to support the project with fundraising, training and placement of volunteers. The agreement was that the land would be gifted to the local community and an NPO would assist in running the Pre-school, The Pre-school which has a Management Committee and Parent Teachers Association, all of whom are members from the local community.

Six years ago, the Early Child Development (ECD—which is a buzz word within the NPO world and is another way of describing a Pre-school) site welcomed 40 children. Khanysile Jila and a single volunteer from the NGO started to teach. I arrived to organize the site one year later. We selected five Zulu ladies who went to Greytown for four years to qualify as ECD practitioners. Currently three of them teach at Crafcor, one has created her own site (Kwa Ximba crèche and Pre-school) and the other unfortunately left the programme.

At the beginning, we organized the ECD site into three levels. Teachers teach in Zulu and in English and volunteers come to assist them.  These three levels are crucial. Through experience I have observed that a child who comes to Pre-school only one year before primary doesn’t succeed in Grade 1 very well due to the lack of stimulation at home. A child who never attends a class needs to adapt to this new environment before learning anything.  Pre-schoolers need at least two years before they will integrate into primary schools and this is crucial to their success, which we continue to demonstrate.

In 2010, Crafcor Pre-school welcomed 100 children. The three levels became five as last year I created a crèche and a Grade one.  Six years of hard work and dedication from the teachers built our solid reputation: the number of children at Crafcor increases every year.

We decided in 2010 to register as a non-profit organization (NPO) under the new name: FIRST STEP RIGHT.  We needed this Certificate to register with the department of the social development, and in 2011, we obtained our NPO Registration on the 15 of February 2011. NP0 087-549.

GGA our original sponsors moved away from supporting the Pre-school and we have had to work very hard to source new funders. Luckily, we had a donation of R10000 from an English church which helped us to make it through March. Then GAGA - Goodwill and Growth for Africa UK agreed to support us.

We registered in 2011 with ninety-four children. We have had to face some issues: the land and business were sold to Frey's, a meat processing business and since 2011 we have continued to work with Frey's goodwill and support.

The deterioration of the building is also an issue, and the unavailability of electricity complicates matters, along with many other stones in the shoe. However we can and will continue to always teach no matter the ups and downs. We offer the children, who deserve it the most, a good and safe environment to improve their education. GAGA UK has agreed to support us and help us overcome these obstacles.

Meet a few of the teachers...

Balungile Myeza

Balungile Myeza

Balungile was the first lady we hired for cleaning Pre-school. She worked for two years in this position then I offered her to take charge of the new level we created in 2009; Crèche. She is a much better teacher than a cleaner. She worked with Khanyisile for a while and has her own class now. She is very organized and I would like her to validate her experience as an ECD practitioner. She is very dedicated to the young children who love her.

Balungile had 7 children in her class in 2009, 12 in 2010 and 16 this year. Balungile is single, her son Bongmusa spent three years with us in Pre-school. She is living with her Mother and her sister Zodwa who is Pre-school cleaner now.

I am very glad to work with these ladies who teach me every day a lesson in life. I know they need to get a wage which allows them to send their own children to school. In every case they are the only financial support in their families.

Khanyisile Jila

Khanyisile Jila

I have known Khanyisile for many years now and we have worked together since the beginning of the project. She is crucial to the  Pre-school as a teacher and for public relation. She leads the meetings with the Management and Parent Teacher Committees and helps me to gain a better understanding of the Zulu Culture and traditions. Khanyisile has 25 children in her class. Most of the children have come for the first time and others attended our crèche the year before. She teaches the shapes and the colours, and counting one to ten. She also teaches them to hold a pencil, how to play together, life-skills topics including the days of the week, months, and body parts.

Khanyisile has three children; Sno the youngest still attends Pre-school. She also cares for a few orphans, and she struggles as do the other teachers. Although they get paid a salary they only earn R500 (£50) a month. The cost of living with their wage and obligations to their families and the others they care for are extremely difficult to manage.

Goodness Makhanyia

Goodness Makhanyia

Goodness Makhanyia is in charge of Grade R which is the last level before the children integrate into primary school. For the first two years Goodness and I worked together, after which she then got her own class.

This year she has twenty-three children in her class. Goodness complains every year about the children who come to her level without attending the other levels. She says it’s a challenge to get those children into the process of learning. They need to come to Pre-school at least two years before primary school.

At this level we teach all the sounds of the alphabet, the numbers up to fifty, additions and subtractions as well as life-skill subjects: my body, my environment, safety in my home, South Africa, HIV, growing plants and recycling. In this class the children, who stayed with us for two years or more, began to speak English and displayed their understanding of the language.

Goodness is in her thirties. She lost her parents very young and since then has been in charge of her family. She currently takes care of ten children at her home in the valley, two kilometres away from Pre-school. She is qualified as an ECD teacher and would like to study at UNISA to be certified as a primary teacher. Goodness is an amazing woman who has a lot of courage. She is an example to her community and at the Pre-school too.


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