Our Work

The Situation in South Africa

It is estimated that about 80% of young children in South Africa’s townships do not have access to early childhood development education and lack the support required to develop to full potentials.

Most South Africa cities were shaped by Apartheid policies which located different ethnic and racial groups in separate areas, neglecting the socio-economic and educational needs of non-whites. Since the end of Apartheid in 1994, poor government funding and flawed policies have exacerbated many of the problems for South Africa’s poorest. Today about 57% of South Africa’s population lives in poverty.

A lack of childcare facilities leaves many children unattended and unprotected. Driven by this situation, local women take children into their own homes and give informal daycare. However, they struggle to provide safe spaces, daily meals or educational input, as most parents cannot pay any fees. Many so-called crèches operate in temporal structures, which are unsafe, poorly insulated and too small.

These inadequate conditions can lead to underdeveloped skills and anti-social behavior once children start school, often resulting in low achievement, high drop out rates and ultimately a greater risk of unemployment-, drug-abuse and crime.

Our Approach

As government budgets are not available to build or upgrade childcare facilities, Matchbox operates through local and international funding.

Converted shipping container are used as mobile, robust and fire proof structures, which get insulated and equipped at local workshops and installed on site within short time frames. A set of these modules provides all necessities for a childcare facility and can be extended over time, or relocated if required. The design of the containers complies with regulations and is adapted to children’s needs.

Parallel to the spacial upgrades, the care givers take part in training courses, facilitated through our local partner organizations. The skills trainings include: early childhood development, wellness, hygiene and nutrition, management, book-keeping and much more.

Parents and neighbors also participate in regular public workshops facilitated through the Matchbox health care faciliator Jenna Sue. Toppics are basic health related issues, such as HIV and Tuberculosis, trauma counseling, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and much more.

The Matchbox Team

Sheilah Chikoki

With great experience and a profound understanding of the human nature, our psychological support consultant from Simbabwe guides our team in the implementation of our educational program and the social work delivered in our partnering centers.

Jacqui Nomfezeko Sithole

As qualified Educational Practitioner and Social Worker, Jacqui empowers the children and care givers in our partnering daycare centers by providing developmental training on a daily base and attending to children with special needs.

Verena Grips

While the German Architect lived in Cape Town from 2006 until 2016, she built up the NGO Matchbox in South Africa and Germany. As Project Manager she leads the team, coordinates construction works and raises funding.

Nandipa Fodo

As an experienced ECD practitioner, Nandipa joined the Matchbox team in 2020. She trains the care givers in our partnering Centers in all areas of early childhood development and teaches the preschool children.

Jenna Sue

The korean-american registered Nurse Jenna is heading the Matchbox health program. She arranges First Aid courses, oversees the treatment, helps fundraising and is our backbone when it comes to the physical wellbeing of the kids in our partnering centers.

Lindiwe Mdidimba

As experienced Community Healthcare Worker Lindi treats the children in our partnering daycare centers. Teamed up with Jenna she cares for all health related topics and develops parental workshops about the health and wellbeing within the families.

Meg Vandermerwe

Founding Member and Chairperson of Matchbox South Africa

Bettina Schütte

Teasurer of Matchbox South Africa

Andrea Grips

Founding Member and Chairperson of Matchbox Germany

Marliese Grips Selders

Founding Member and Co-Chairperson of Matchbox Germany

Cornelia Grips

Treasurer of Matchbox Germany

Our Partner