Our Work

Our Team South Africa

Meg Vandermerwe (Chairperson), Jenna Sue (Health Care Manager), Verena Grips (Project Manager), Bettina Schütte (Treasurer) and Mavis Ncgongolo (Principal Injongo Educare Center)

Who we are

Matchbox is working to improve the quality of life and learning for children growing up in South African townships.

A positive and safe environment is crucial for children to unfold their potentials and grow up as confident, positive adults. As a non-profit organization we are committed to support informal daycare centers in need through spacial upgrades, as well as empowerment and skills training for caregivers and parents.

In partnership with the communities, we develop improvement strategies for those existing informal centers. We design and build child-friendly play and learning spaces in the most ecologically and economically sustainable way, whilst caregivers and parents participate in skills training and health workshops facilitated in cooperation with our local partner NGO Power-Child.

Once upgraded, the crèches meet official requirements, are eligible for subsidies and achieve economic independence and a sustainable future.

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 Projects

Matchbox focuses on Mfuleni

Currently Matchbox focuses on Mfuleni, a township community part of the Khayelitsha District (the Xhosa name for “New Home”), which is the fastest growing township in Cape Town and the Western Cape.

To upgrade and empower the women who run the crèches in most urgent needs, we cooperate closely with the City of Cape Town, local representative groups, the management committees of the crèches and the communities around them.

All projects are financed and facilitated thanks to our generous private donors and in partnership with DESWOS e.V. and Matchbox e.V. Germany.

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.

Our Partner