Nelson Mandela Bay

Nelson Mandela Bay mothers are joining forces to share skills and tips as well as working to uplift the community through various initiatives.


Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa – A collaborative project between UNICEF, Nelson Mandela University, The Department of Health & Early Inspiration gave rise to parent support group across the city under the name, Sakha Esethu.

This community-based initiative can be best described as a gathering which provides mutual support for caregivers and parents on burning health issues and parent support through dialogue and conversation. Sakha Esethu means “It starts with us, we’re building our own”. This active phrase emphasises the active role that community members, mothers, fathers, teachers or grandparents – anyone interacting with children can assist in the development of a child. Sakha Esethu seeks to promote community participation by utilises the energy of trained community mentors and caregivers.

“Sakha Esethu is about changing the community. I enjoyed the fact that I was among other people sharing my story. In the support group I learnt from other parents and they were able to learn from my knowledge too.” said a parent from a Sakha Esethu support group.

ECD Principals from across Nelson Mandela Bay joined the Sakha Esethu Mentor Mother programme with the intention of starting their very own Parent Support Groups based at their ECD Centres. This training fosters leadership and promotes dialogue on topics linked to children health. These topics explore information for parents, caregivers and other community members that will encourage children to grow up well. Community conversations should be a priority for communities as we tackle the challenges, myths and issues related to children’s health. Sessions have begun in Kwazakhele, Kwadesi, Motherwell, New Brighton, Walmer Township and Zwide.

Free online resources have been developed to host short discussions with parents and community members. The interactive website has been created as a platform to access resources and training materials to host your own conversations and gatherings. As a result of the skills development initiative, mentoring and support, there are mentors in Nelson Mandela Bay who have shown outstanding commitment to developing their communities.

Tsepiso Mokhoelehe – the entrepreneur and Sakha Esethu mentor mother.

Despite the hardships of living in an underprivileged community, like the outskirts of Motherwell, there are stories of great impact. Tsepiso is a 42-year-old mother with two children; she is the principal and owner of her own ECD Centre, Tsepies Educare which she started about a year ago. Her centre has grown from strength to strength, starting with just three children and there are now more than 15 regularly attending. Tsepiso graduated with her ECD Level 4 qualification and attended training to be a Sakha Esethu mentor mother in 2018.

In just six months of running her Sakha Esethu mentor mother group, this mentor had outgrown her living room and was hosting meetings in her garden. Her groups are a testimony to the fact that real connection matters.

Tsepiso writes in a reflective feedback note; “I was not involved in the community before, I was only busy with my ECD Centre… I have learnt participatory approaches when working with families and communities. We are now planning a community project which is a soup kitchen and this is a huge community development.”

Tsepiso felt that her new title of mentor mom benefits not only her centre but the wider community. After just a few gatherings, something truly remarkable happened, many mothers disclosed their statuses and grandmothers shared stories about the pain they have been harbouring for years of having to raise their children’s babies because they were taken from them by HIV/AIDS. A new level of community trust began to unfold.

As an entrepreneur, Tsepiso began to see many additional needs in her community that would be possible obstacles to people coming and seeking help from the support group. She comments, “Poverty, causes people to keep to themselves most of the time. They become isolated.” The Sakha Esethu support group decided to open up a community-based soup kitchen, where people gather in Tsepiso’s ECD Centre to have some food, and that is where she gets an opportunity to discuss parenting issues with them, and tell them about the support group.

Tsepiso shares that she does not want to charge people for the soup as it is a service for the community by the community. She has begun to approach sponsors for donations of food towards the initiative.

Tshepiso’s’ story of innovation and building of trust showcases the growth of not only an individual like Tsepiso but a community of parents. This is ubuntu in action. There is a genuine desire to be more than just a group of gathering parents but a group of change makers in Motherwell.

In response to the growing need to have conversations with parents and community members, Sakha Esethu Mentors have been included in several radio interviews with Dietitians from the Department of Health featured on on Wednesday at 14:30. The radio slots aimed to encourage listeners to start conversations in their homes about relevant topics related to child health. Sakha Esethu continues to build and invest in the communities of Nelson Mandela Bay. Great value lies in the collective power that communities have when supporting each other. In a society where individuals, mothers, fathers, grandparents, family members, neighbours, choose to share a vision, offer a heart of empathy and pursue an empowerment mindset – there is an excellent potential for change.

Sources: Press Release
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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