This might explain why those Safire staffers who are still at the office during lockdown are bringing in their (empty!) 2 litre ice cream tubs, plastic bread bags, lids and cereal boxes. Julie Hay, founder of Singakwenza, explains, “All the crèches we usually support are closed, with no definite date as to when they will reopen, so we have been looking at ways to ensure that the children still get the opportunity to engage in purposeful play every day. We started by sending daily activities to the crèche practitioners via WhatsApp, and they have been sending them on to those parents who have phones and data. This worked very well with some families. Then we realised that many of the parents were not able to receive the activities in this way, so we put together printed booklets in English and isiZulu with 8 pages of activities that the parents could make at home using household packaging. These booklets have been very well received and numerous other networks have asked us to share them with their communities. To date we have printed and sent out more than 3 000 booklets within KwaZulu-Natal, and so far have sent master copies to 5 other organisations in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga for them to print.”

As if this amazing initiative wasn’t enough, the Singakwenza crew, concerned about children in homes where there is no one able to make up the activities, developed activity boxes with ready-made games and toys to be distributed to each of their 750 children, to complement the activities outlined in the booklets. Working from home, the Singakwenza heroes used their lockdown time to make hundreds of colour flowers, threading activities, shape-matching cards, tie-my-shoe activities, dice, dolls and other toys and games from recycled items. These are packed into 2 litre ice-cream containers with instructions on how to play with each activity, and are then issued by the practitioners from their crèches to each child. Singakwenza assists with ensuring that health & safety protocols are in place, providing practitioners with soap, masks and hand sanitiser for the handover.

Here are the Singakwenza team at work:

And here are some of the games they created from our trash!