Growing in 2021Common Good
It is never easy to summarize an entire year in one word, but if you had to do it for Sikunye, it would be: growth. In so many different ways, Sikunye has grown in 2021. We have seen a rapid expansion of our reach across South Africa, a deepening of our programme offerings, and a maturing of churches who have been part of the network. We have also personally grown, having experienced the wide range of realities that people living in South Africa have faced this year. You can read the Sikunye team’s reflections here.
We have tried to summarize the work of Sikunye in this blog: to try to capture this growth. We trust it is as encouraging for you as it has been for us.
Spreading the Big Idea
We are committed to seeing as many churches as possible get the big idea of the never-to-be-repeated time of brain development. We help pastors and leaders connect the science to what the Bible tells us about God’s heart for children and then share the opportunity their local church has to see all children get a strong start to life.
To this end, we hosted 30 The Church & Early Life events, reaching 468 people. We also ran two ‘Thought Leadership’ webinar events: Fatherhood, the Church and the First Thousand Days and Building Resilient Families: The role of Community Care in the face of adversity. We had 256 attendees at these events.
Growing the Network
With lockdown having such a profound impact on the way churches and church leaders were operating in 2020, our strategy was to support congregants. This year, however, we shifted our focus to church leaders, sharing the Big Idea and inviting them to commit themselves and their churches to caring for families in the First Thousand Days – also known as Activating their Church. We launched a Community Mobilisers project to help reach pastors beyond the relational range of the Sikunye team. These 12 passionate individuals worked tirelessly to see many more churches reached.
This year, we have seen the number of Activated churches grow from 32 to 305. This means that an estimated 2342 families are receiving care and support in new ways, strengthening them to consistently provide what their young child needs to reach their God-given potential.
Growing availability and accessibility
Technology and data costs can be a barrier for people to participate in Sikunye’s online offering. Sikunye is committed to doing what we can to remove these barriers. We provide coaching to install Zoom onto participant’s phones. For many people in our Church & Early Life webinars, it is their first time on an online meeting of that nature. We also provide mobile data/airtime to 513 participants who requested it. This has meant that churches all over the country have been able to fully engage with Sikunye’s programmes where that cost might have prevented them. We have continued to develop our data-free website, ensuring that all our resources are within reach of any person with a smartphone. We have also translated our promotional videos for Church & Early Life into isiXhosa , isiZulu and Afrikaans.
Growing our message online
This year we had a range of social media campaigns to get the message out and saw our following expand:
Growing in our Equipping of Churches
Once churches have committed themselves to caring for families, Sikunye equips key leaders and volunteers to serve families. A new initiative we launched was our ‘How to be FTD-friendly workshops’ to assist church leaders take their first few steps in this area of church life. We ran this 4 times with 36 church leaders. We have also moved our Home Visiting training online this year. This 5-night training empowers congregants to create a supportive relationship with a mom, visiting her throughout the course of her First Thousand Day season. We ran 3 cohorts of training, equipping 38 people.
Growing in our Support of Churches
Being part of the Sikunye network means that you are not alone in your work to strengthen families. Every two weeks we hosted Lunchtime Conversations – a time to connect with others and grow in your understanding and skills around a particular FTD topic. We hosted 22 of these, with 310 people. We hosted a mid-year Sikunye gathering with 28 attendees. We have grown our bank of resources, adding an addition 80 tools that can help churches better support and care for families.
We are growing with others
We know that there is a long road ahead: too many children in our nation do not get enough of what they need to thrive. We will continue to play our part in seeing churches be the modern-day villages around families. We take courage knowing that we have many supporters, donors and friends who cheer us on in this important work. Thank you for joining us as we invest in families and young children.