For children born into poor families, life offers very few opportunities and few chances to escape the cycle of poverty.
The Path Out of Poverty programme is a long-term solution that guides a child from birth into young adulthood.
The Grow Peace Path Out of Poverty Programme
The main Grow Peace project is The Path Out of Poverty programme (known as POP), which incorporates a range of focus areas.
The POP programme is unique in being very long term, covering as many as 25 years of an individual’s life.
Poverty is multi-dimensional and needs unrelenting holistic attention over many years and on several fronts – these developmental and interactive programmes are built on the four POP pillars of Health, Education, Personal Development and Care for the Planet.
POP starts before a baby is born, working with the mothers to make sure the baby is born healthy, and not suffering from Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The crucial first 1 000 days, from conception through pregnancy, to a child’s second birthday is a time that sets brain development and lifelong health. The most important thing is correct nutrition. Malnutrition’s responsible for almost half of all deaths of children under the age of five. For those children who survive malnutrition, their bodies and brains will be stunted for life, and the damage can be irreversible. During this time we educate women on the basics of good nutrition and help them establish food gardens.
The POP Baby Unit
The POP baby unit cares for babies during the harvest seasons and throughout the year (which are the only times when mothers can get employment and earn an income for their families).
We’re passionate believers in pre-school. This early childhood education starts immediately after the 1 000 days.
Once children move on to primary school, our POP Centres make every effort to keep them there, nourish them with a daily meal, help them with homework, and get them involved with computers, sports, and other extra-curricular activities. Parents who have missed out on schooling don’t understand the true value of education, and therefore don’t encourage their children to stay at school. And those parents who are illiterate cannot help with homework.
In addition, POP provides a school bus, sandwiches for school break, a daily nutritious hot meal, toiletries – including sanitary wear for girls to prevent absenteeism from school – and opportunities to shower and wash clothes.
There are safe houses where children can go for help in the event of trouble at home.
During the early teens, POP increases its programmes to include, drama, music, dance, sex education and AIDS awareness.
In the late teens, it’s time for youth clubs, studying for school-leaving examinations, and tertiary education/career guidance and leadership training. At the pinnacle of the POP programme our Goedgedacht Rural Leadership College prepares 18-20 year old men and women for adulthood, employment, tertiary education, and most importantly for Servant Leadership in their own communities.
To facilitate independent transport, a bicycle project has been running for the past 15 years. The basis of Cycle Out of Poverty is that a bicycle gives affordable transport, is environmentally friendly, and promotes exercise to improve health and wellness.
POP also encourages entrepreneurship. Poor people with limited skills need ways to earn an income. The creation of community bakeries at our POP Centres allow people to bake and sell the staple of good bread in their own neighbourhoods, thus providing the means to earn, and give the option of a healthier type of bread than the store bought variety. The POP food gardens also provide vegetables for people to use at home, with excess being sold to others in the community.
At present there are eight fully functional POP Centres – two are on the farms of Goedgedacht and Just Trees in Paarl, and six in the villages of Riebeek Kasteel, Riebeek West, Koringberg, Riverlands, Chatsworth and Prince Albert.
But that’s not nearly enough to meet the very real need.
Our present vision is to increase the number of new POP Centres by four within the next five years. Our long term vision is to change the National Government rural policy to include POP Youth Centres in every village.
And our ultimate vision is to take the POP programme to other parts of Africa, in partnership with Slum Dwellers International.