In the run-up to Women’s Month two local non-profits have been working together to uplift women in Cape Town’s townships.
Ikamva Labantu works with the owners and principals of educares (creches) in Khayelitsha, offering training in Early Childhood Development (ECD) for women operating informal childcare centres. Educare practitioners receive training, support, mentoring, and coaching in how to properly manage and run their educare centres.

Ananda Nel, Director of Ikamva Labantu, explains that there are many dedicated educare centres in townships lacking practitioners holding formal qualifications. Principals are trained in financial and administration management, as well as leadership. They undergo a three-week condensed training course in our learning programme, enabling them to support their practitioners with implementation.

“We find that many of the practitioners do not know how to provide a stimulating learning programme to the children in their care. It’s important that teachers understand the value of something as simple as playing with the children, for example,” says Nel.
“Through our ECD forum, principals can learn a lot about what they need to do to make sure their businesses succeed. We help them with everything from registering their schools so they qualify for government grants, to providing practical training.”

Ayanda Mpokela, 29, works in an educare to assist her mother – who quit working as a domestic worker in 2009 and started looking after children at home.

“My mom is a disabled woman, and she can’t read or write. So she started staying at home and a lady opposite her brought her child to her and asked her to look after the child, “explains Mpokela, adding that news soon spread via word of mouth.

“I was a nurse before and she asked me to resign, to become the principal and help her out when it comes to reading, writing, all those types of things. I did it for my mom, because whatever I have today is because of her.”

It wasn’t until 2014 that Mpokela took part in Ikamva Labantu’s training for the centre, which now cares for 85 children (from 3 months to 6 years of age) from the surrounding community. As principal, Mpokela works from 6am to 6pm daily.

She says she has learnt about administrative tasks, training and effective management, but also about conflict resolution, dealing with the emotions of both children and parents, and about meal times, nutrition and hygiene.

“We have learnt about humanity, being a human being, how to work with people and with children,” says Mpokela.

Mpokela now feels more confident in her work than ever before.

According to Nel, none of this would be possible without the funding they receive from the sale of Relate Bracelets.

Ikamva Labantu, which manages and implements the ECD programme, and Relate Bracelets, which assists in funding Ikamva Labantu, have been working together for more than five years, changing the lives of thousands of women. To date, Relate Bracelets has raised around R1 million for Ikamva Labantu, including this latest programme.


A 100% not-for-profit social enterprise, Relate Bracelets makes handmade beaded bracelets in support of more than 90 causes across health, education, conservation, social upliftment, children, and empowerment. To date Relate has raised more than R35 million for these causes from the sale of more than 2.2 million bracelets. People can support this particular programme by purchasing the Ikamva Labantu Women’s Empowerment Relate Bracelet available exclusively at Poetry stores nationwide this Women’s Month, and beyond.

“When the idea of what was to become Relate Bracelets first came to mind some 12 years ago, I wanted to create a vehicle that would help build women’s self-esteem and confidence,” explains Relate’s founder Lauren Gillis.

“The sale of these bracelets also benefits the elderly women who thread beads for us at Ikamva Labantu’s seniors centres, earning an income to supplement their small pensions. And the young women who close and pack the bracelets for us also receive training to help them on their way in their chosen careers beyond Relate.”

This article was first published in W24 on 8 August 2016