Meet our three finalists in the category ‘Best Rising NGO’ for the South African CSI Legacy Awards, a gala event on the South Africa CSI calendar scheduled for 24 February in Pretoria.
Dream Factory Foundation
What began as a weekly Christian motivational school roadshow in 2008 organically developed into a transformational organisation benefiting thousands of youth across three countries – South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.
Today, Dream Factory Foundation designs and implements programmes for in-school and out-of-school youth, meeting their socio-economic needs and enabling them to participate meaningfully in society.
Their main programme, #BetheDream, has been recognised by the Western Cape Department of Education as a school-based after-school support programme through which young people are taught the personal and inter-personal skills needed to lead successful and purpose-driven lives.
Workshops are fun and interactive, while the one-on-one mentorship component equips youth with leadership capacity and encourages them to develop a growth mindset. The economic empowerment arm of the programme provides a foundation from which young people may gain access to meaningful employment.
The principles and practices of this programme are imbedded in all the foundation’s other programmes, which include a focus on empowering women and digital skills training.
Thus far, over 3000 beneficiaries have completed the #BetheDream programme, 80% of them from township communities; 50 000 youth have been trained in digital skills.
In 2013, Play Africa launched a decentralised ‘museum without walls’, bringing Play Africa to community centres, schools, parks and street corners.
In 2017, Play Africa moved to Constitution Hill, a human rights precinct located in a former prison complex in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, as a publicly accessible children’s museum.
Play Africa is the first interactive children’s museum in Southern Africa offering inclusive, equitable learning spaces, hands-on exhibits, programmes, parent engagement and teacher training. Focusing on creative, holistic and playful learning in early childhood development (ECD) and primary education, Play Africa empowers children with skills for a changing world.
Play Africa helps learners to re-imagine our shared future by nurturing a culture of human rights and celebrating the values and spirit of the Constitution of South Africa. Children are encouraged to think critically to better protect our democracy, and all citizens and visitors are encouraged to ask questions, speak out against injustice, and identify innovative solutions for South Africa’s new era.
Play Africa is also an ‘education maker space’. This means it researches and develops pioneering interactive exhibits, having created ten such exhibits and 36 replicable education solutions for low-resourced settings across Africa since 2016.
In the last four years, they have facilitated world-class learning experiences for more than 36,000 children, parents and educators in greater Johannesburg, particularly focusing on the inner city, township areas and informal settlements. This is possible thanks to innovative partnerships with 245 schools, ECD centres, community groups and other grassroots partners.
At the height of the Covid-19 crisis, Play Africa leveraged technology and design thinking to expand their reach substantially across southern Africa. They have prototyped nine new virtual programmes to offer locally relevant cultural and play-based programming to children, play training and psychosocial support to parents, and new training to educators. Technology has enabled them to create entirely new and innovative ways for Africa’s children and parents to develop a sense of wonder and creativity, think outside the box, and connect with one another.
South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind
The South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind provides services to people with visual, physical or developmental needs through training guide dogs, service dogs, and autism support dogs for orientation and mobility.
Through their services, they have immeasurably improved the lives of thousands, giving them the freedom of independence, mobility and companionship.
The South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind offers highly trained guide dogs to help visually impaired people in different environments and situations. The ever-willing dogs help physically disabled people to open and close doors and drawers, and retrieve items from hard-to-reach places; they help children with autism who are often distracted and distressed, knowing how to calm and soothe them. They offer companionship, comfort and unconditional love in times of loneliness, an invaluable service in these times where so many people, especially those with special challenges, feel isolated and alone.
The association also offers orientation and mobility services to the visually impaired through their college to help improve their living experiences. The South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind is one of those behind-the-scenes organisations whose services are indispensable and without which, many lives would be so much the poorer.