Cotlands in partnership with the KwaZulu Natal Department of Health (KZN DOH) and Mondi (South Africa) are giving more children in remote villages access to early learning play-based opportunities in Mtubatuba. Mtubatuba is situated on the north eastern coastline of KZN. With a population size of approximately 202 176, this municipality has experienced the highest population growth rate in the district1.
The KZN DOH Mtubatuba Mobile Health Clinic and Cotlands Mobile Toy Library is a non-centre based project that delivers health and early learning services to those children that need it most. This innovative community-based initiative is moving towards an integrated and inter-sectoral mobile health and early learning service. The initiative aims to address the inadequate services for early childhood development in poverty-stricken areas with poor infrastructure. Driving into the villages, the joint mobile service also meets the needs of children with disabilities, making these essential services more accessible.
It all begins at the toy library depot where toys are packed into a trailer from KwaMsane Clinic and are then transported to the various communities that are scattered across villages in Mtubatuba. Both the nurse and toy librarian travel together to provide health services and play-based early learning opportunities respectively. The toy librarian service is quality assured and the librarian is trained to deliver pre-planned lessons that help build the early learning foundation in children. This foundation is essential for a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development.
Below some comments from key role players of this exciting initiative:
“The National Health Insurance’s (NHI’s) aim is to achieve sustainable and affordable universal access to healthcare, especially in hard to reach areas such as this one. The health services include health promotion, disease prevention, curative (acute and chronic), rehabilitation and palliative (including social services). Attaching a mobile toy library to our mobile clinic is a pioneering way to deliver on this mandate. While maximising existing resources and encouraging intersectoral collaboration we are able to deliver a holistic service to our children for all aspects of their development.” says Gcina Radebe, KZN Director of Primary Health Care.
“Cotlands is pleased to be launching this project in the Umkhanyakude District and this would not be possible without the continued support from our key partners; KZN DOH and Mondi. We are excited as this project will reach 13 remote villages and impact approximately 356 children, increasing the amount of play-based early learning opportunities in the area.” says Dr. Monica Stach, Cotlands CEO.
“For us the most rewarding impact we could achieve is when a child will be able to link their success in life back to an opportunity provided by Mondi” said Thobi Mkhize, Stakeholder Engagement Manager Mondi.
An old African proverb states that “it takes a village to raise a child”. The concept of a mobile health and toy library brings the community together and unites all mothers and children to care for the welfare of not only their child but of all the other children in the community. This project rings true to this old adage. The project encourages parents and caregivers to not only prioritise their children’s health, but also encourages them to play more with their children and learn about early learning resources. This is an important way for children to learn and grow. Cotlands would like to boost more parent and community engagements like the Mtubatuba project. With the help of government and the private sector the organisation’s strategic goal is to roll-out 500 toy libraries nationally by 2022 to address the needs of all vulnerable children in South Africa.
Community Survey 2016 Provincial Profile: Kwazulu-Natal, 2016 – https://www.statssa.gov.za/
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Igniting potential through play
Cotlands is a registered non-profit early childhood development organization with a rich heritage of over 80 years of experience in serving young, vulnerable children. Cotlands vision is to see children thrive in their pre-school years by increasing their access to play-based early learning opportunities. Cotlands provides scalable and cost-effective toy libraries and early learning playgroups targeted at children from birth to six years. The organization also focuses on enabling parents and educating early learning facilitators on play based learning and best practice principles. Cotlands has presence in six provinces across South Africa (Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and North West).
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Mondi Uncoated Fine Paper is a business unit of Mondi Group. In 5 paper mills in Austria, Slovakia, Russia, and South Africa, Mondi Uncoated Fine Paper produces environmentally sound office and professional printing papers tailored to the latest professional digital and offset print technologies. The company complies with the strictest international certification standards to support sustainable production processes through the responsible management of forest, water and air resources. All Mondi uncoated fine papers belong to the Green Range of papers that are FSC® or PEFC™ certified, 100% recycled or bleached entirely without chlorine.
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Mondi is a global leader in packaging and paper, delighting its customers and consumers with innovative and sustainable packaging and paper solutions. Mondi is fully integrated across the packaging and paper value chain – from managing forests and producing pulp, paper and plastic films, to developing and manufacturing effective industrial and consumer packaging solutions. Sustainability is embedded in everything Mondi does. In 2018, Mondi had revenues of €7.48 billion and underlying EBITDA of €1.76 billion.
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