The Sikunye team started this year with a range of emotions: excitement for seeing new impact and a little trepidation as we looked to extend our reach and range of workshops to strengthen churches in their important work of supporting families. It has definitely been a rollercoaster ride over the last six months.
A core part of Sikunye’s work is spreading the big idea of the church and the first thousand days. Having learned from our pilot last year, we launched another Community Mobiliser project. This introduced us to hundreds more church leaders to give us the opportunity to introduce the connection between the science of the First Thousand Days, God’s heart for young children and what their local church can do. To do this, we hosted 18 ‘The Church & Early Life’ events, with 561 people attending. We invite church leaders to commit themselves and their church to being First Thousand Day-Friendly. This year so far, we have seen 280 churches do this – reaching across all provinces with 5 from outside our South African borders.
As churches activate themselves, Sikunye has worked to equip key members and volunteers. An essential first workshop is the ‘How to be an FTD-friendly church’. We have hosted 7 of these, reaching 214 people. We have also piloted 2 new workshops, ‘Planning and Reviewing’ and ‘Team Leader’s Training’, reaching 32 people across both pilots. A core way that churches can grow their skills to reach and care for families is our ‘Practical Workshops’ – where we have covered topics like how to start a mom’s group, how to engage fathers, how to use key moments in your church and how to win others over to being an FTD-friendly church. These 5 workshops reached 113 people.
As part of Supporting churches in their work to strengthen families, Sikunye hosted 4 monthly check-ins, where we connected with 72 people. We also hosted two Sikunye Gatherings, covering important and inspiring topics like ‘Play’ (opportunities for early learning) and ‘how to encourage families to be reading with their young children’. These reached 94 people.
With most of our work being hosted in online Zoom meetings, we provide support for first-time users of the app and offer mobile data for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect. Across the 38 webinars so far this year, we supplied mobile data to 720 different people. This has allowed us to reach into different communities, ensuring that mobile data is not a barrier for participation and engagement.
This first half of the year has been encouraging and stretching at the same time. We look forward to ongoing impact and growth through the rest of the year. As we join hands across our country, we know that a new story of the future of South African children is being written.