One woman’s compassion has led to the empowerment of hundreds of children, teenagers, their parents and women in rural communities in Mzansi. The initiative, named after its founder, Anna Brom, has enabled more than 700 youngsters to develop their academic, physical and social skills through their 3 Rs programme (Reading, Running and Right-ing).
Anna Brom (41) started the Anna Foundation in 2005 after she saw a great need to give back to rural communities. After volunteering as a remedial teacher at a disadvantaged farm and township school in Mpumalanga, she wanted to provide support to rural children and offer them a stimulating and uplifting environment to grow.
She started by providing support classes in English and Maths to learners from Ipani Primary school in Middelburg in Mpumalanga. With no library facility available, Brom started a library-in-a-box system, providing children with books to read. There were also no sports facilities at the school so she started a running group. In order for children to become part of the running club, they had to read two books per week.
“This concept was then expanded and enriched to offer remedial support for children with learning barriers, and then further modified to include educational support lessons for all children. It ultimately led to the development of the 3Rs programme: Reading (education), Running (sport) and Right-ing (life skills),” says the foundation’s marketing manager Elanza Alberts.
In 2007, the Anna Foundation relocated to the Western Cape, where they now work with 754 children on 18 farms. They have centres in Stellenbosch, Paarl, Grabouw, Bonnievale, Ashton, Nuyvallei and Worcester.
“We focus on rural areas as its remote location and distance from urban hubs and opportunities often mean that these areas are neglected and deprived of skills development, educational support and after-school programmes.”
Children from grade R through to grade 12 are all part of the programme. The educational aspect focusses on the children’s literacy and numeracy development. They are assisted with their homework and given educational worksheets.
The Anna Foundation also believes that a healthy body means a healthy mind and that is why they have incorporated sport into the programme.
“The programme is designed to strengthen the learners’ endurance, overall fitness level and motor skills, as well as to develop teamwork and determination. We also take our kids to fun runs and cycling events in their areas to expose them to an active lifestyle,” says Alberts.
With the implementation of life skills, they are hoping to encourage the children to have confidence and self-esteem from a young age. And they approach this through drama workshops and life skills training.
Randy Dayimane, a grade 8 learner from Stellenbosch High School attends the programme on Simonsig farm. She says: “The biggest lesson I have learnt from the drama [workshop] is that you don’t have to be cool to fit in. It’s okay to just be yourself.”
The most rewarding thing for Katy Booysen, an Anna Foundation facilitator, is seeing how the children grow through the programme. She says the best feeling is seeing how their marks improve at school, and how they start asking for help if they don’t understand something.
“I live on the farm which means I know each child’s circumstances, so I know how to approach each one. If they have tasks, they will always come to me for help. One of the children told me that the after-school programme is his life, because he gets attention and love here. And when you see those little eyes sparkle when they understand something you’re teaching them, it’s just the best feeling.”