Check out the GoAbroad Foundation’s interview with Ginger Green, the Sales & Marketing Coordinator of All Out Africa Foundation. She gave us insight into what AOAF is working towards and what kind of impact their projects have in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
What is the primary mission of All Out Africa Foundation?
At All Out Africa Foundation (AOAF), we work within the Kingdom of Eswatini, which has ranked the number one country for new HIV infections for the last 10 years. An epidemic of this magnitude affects the rural communities of the nation immensely, causing high unemployment rates, staggering poverty numbers, and an overwhelming number of orphans and vulnerable children.
At AOAF we believe we can help stop the cycle of poverty by starting from the foundation — children. Our focus is on providing quality, FREE early childhood education. Our research and our experience have taught us that by giving disadvantaged children a head start in their education, they are more likely to stay in school longer and excel in their studies.
Related: Learn More About All Out Africa
Our goal is that by setting this stage, the children we work within the most vulnerable communities will use their early childhood education as a stepping stone, carrying it with them through primary school, and hopefully into a secondary institution. This will propel them beyond their peers into a lifestyle with creating employment opportunities, so their families can one day break the cycle of poverty.
Tell us about the All Out Africa Foundation team.
The AOAF team is not only an amazing, scrappy, and optimistic group of individuals, but they are, most importantly, experts in their fields. This is our most important characteristic to ensure the sustainability of each of our core projects that work towards achieving our primary goals.
Our team has the experience and expertise to develop our three core projects (Childcare, Sports Development, and Building) in the Kingdom of Eswatini. This gives us the opportunity to train community “experts” who assist us in our development efforts and ensures the longevity of each project.
Our team begins with Tjengisa, our Neighbourhood Care Point Coordinator, who majored in Urban Development. He is the manager of our team in the field, and each of their individual project goals to make sure all of our tasks are in line with our overarching goals and sustainability plan. He is our liaison between our team and the larger community-based team who volunteer their time to help us achieve our goals at the office, as well as their goals in the community to rise above the poverty which faces them.
He works closely with our building coordinator Micheal. Together they meet with communities who are in need, and they pave a way for AOAF and the community at large to work together for a brighter future. Once this relationship is solidified, then the community allocates a piece of land where a new informal preschool will be built by our building team of volunteers.
Once the walls have been erected, it’s time for our certified early education teacher, Eunice, to get to work. Eunice also collaborates with the community members, who select a teacher for the new school. She spends one-on-one time with the teacher to prepare them with valuable teaching skills and methods so they can lead a new class of tiny graduates at the new location. This training continues throughout the years with each of our 8 preschools.
Once the class is underway, Menzi, our Sports Development Coordinator, steps in. His goal is to enhance fine motor skills with all of our children, who are often lacking development due to their extreme living conditions. This is also a way for us to get the kids moving, teach them about leadership and being a team-player with fun and innovative games.
In addition to our team in the field, we have the office team, who volunteer their time to make sure our Foundation has funding, supplies, donations, etc. Together, we truly believe that we can make a difference, and after 15 years the results are in the faces of each of our graduated classes!
Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?
I have a story about Lelo. She went to Mahlanya NCP and Georgina (who was a volunteer with us) liked her and supported her family with food hampers every month. When Lelo was in grade 7 she obtained a first-class with merit and she was able to attend Sisekelo High School which is one of the prestigious schools in Eswatini.
Upon completing high school at Sisekelo, she was admitted at Waterford Kamhlaba-IB. She is currently studying in Rwanda and is set to graduate in 2021. She has been to Zimbabwe and Uganda for studying.
We also have the Msibi family which we supported with monthly food hampers, school fees, and school uniforms. There are four siblings who were spotted by AOA at Ekuzukekeni NCP. When a follow up was made by the AOA team, they were shocked to find that these children stayed with their dad, who was bedridden due to Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB).
Their mom left them after she discovered that her husband was sick. The children continued to take care of their dad on their own but he eventually passed away in 2018, leaving the eldest son (Masebenza) who was 19 to be the head of the family. We also introduced a sustainable project in the form of a chicken shed and a vegetable garden for this family. This was meant to enable the children to earn an income while also having something to eat.
Can you tell us more about the Food Hamper Program and what it accomplishes?
The Food Hamper Program is a supplement to our core goals and objectives. We work hard to make sure that our three core projects are achieving our long term goals; however, in many cases, there is a great immediate need to decrease the effects of poverty that the kids in our communities are faced with. This includes having a full belly, so they can reap the benefits of our lessons when they are in class.
Early on, we knew that this was a challenge for many of the families who our projects target for support, and AOAF started to allocate funds to help families who were living in extreme poverty situations, providing them with food hampers so the children could have access to food beyond the two meals that our preschools can offer.
Being a non-profit, our funds are allocated very carefully, and often we cannot fulfill the needs of so many of the families who could benefit from additional food hampers. Our goal with this program is to be able to help more children through at-home support, making our overall goals even more successful. This program would also allow us to increase the types of nutrition we were able to provide at our preschools as well.
If we are able to provide these most at-risk families with quality early childhood education, through the tireless work of our committed team, we would love the opportunity to make sure that their brains and bellies were unto the task of absorbing the information with the proper nutrition they need for growing bodies.
What is the importance of the Food Hamper Program for vulnerable children in Estawini?
We have been running the Food Hamper Program for several years. However, because this is a supplement to our core projects, funds are often sparse or inconsistent, making it hard to develop the program further with our current resources.
We know that if we are able to find committed partners for this program that we will be able to nominate a dozen more families (or more!) for the Food Hamper Program, which would have a drastic effect on the lives of the children and families we work with. With a balanced diet and an increase in general nutrition, these kids would be able to come to school each day ready to learn.
In addition to the food and the obvious benefits, it is important to understand that the families we work with often earn less than $1 per day. This is an added burden for the entire family unit, adding stress and extra duties for each family member. Taking away this burden, even in a small capacity, would provide a sense of peace and benefit for every family member.
What are the results of the Food Hamper Program so far?
The Food Hamper Program is such that the benefits can only be achieved over a long term duration. Although providing hampers of food once is a huge relief for many families we work with, we want this program to benefit the long term effects of increased nutrition and relief of the effects of burden on the families so we are able to see the results over the course of the entire school year.
This has been one of the program’s main challenges. Occasionally we do receive support in the form of in-kind food donations around the holidays; however, this generous donation only lasts a few months, at most. We would like to see this project become sustainable by partnering with long term donors who can contribute throughout the school year. With this kind of support, we can see the long term effects and be able to track the progress of each family we support through the children’s report cards.
Having one meal provided for the families is a blessing, but having a year of increased nutrition and the peace of knowing where their next meal is coming from is priceless. It’s through the new long term partnerships that we will ensure that our hard work through our core projects is reaching its full potential.