EMIRATES Airline Foundation and Singakwenza, an NGO in Pietermaritzburg which focuses on early childhood development, hosted a “Waste 2 Toys” workshop in Johannesburg, to highlight education as one of the fundamental rights for children. This November, the world celebrates children; with National Children’s Day in South Africa and, internationally, November 20 which is World Children’s Day — established by UNICEF. With a focus on improving the lives of children across the globe, Emirates decided to contribute to the cause by partnering with Singakwenza to host the workshop where guests received a hands-on experience on how to create educational toys from recyclable materials. The workshop showcased work being done by the organisation and the impact it has on the lives of people within the community. Singakwenza — meaning “We can do it” in Zulu — is a KwaZulu-Natal-based initiative that trains practitioners, parents and caregivers at a grassroots level to provide fun, educational activities that enable young children to learn through play. In addition to a two-year training and mentorship programme, the charity organisation hosts workshops that teach adults about the importance of stimulation in the early years and how to make their own toys and teaching resources by using household packaging that is usually thrown away. The end goal is to help transform empty crèches and homes into educational and stimulating environments for children. Emirates Airline Foundation’s support for the two-year training and mentorship programme has so far helped provide nearly 5 000 young children with a strong foundation, preparing them for formal schooling. Through the “Waste 2 Toys” workshops, the organisation has trained 2 931 adults — parents, teachers and caregivers — who can now provide opportunities for playful learning for the 49 800 children in their care.Fouad Caunhye, Emirates’ regional manager, Southern Africa, said: “The passion and dedication that Julie and the Singakwenza team have towards the cause of early education is commendable, and we are proud to support them in their efforts. “Hundreds of children have been given the opportunity to learn through purposeful play and have access to the basic right to education through the work that Singakwenza has done. “The Emirates Airline Foundation is deeply committed to helping disadvantaged children around the world and this workshop serves as a reminder of the impact we can have on the less fortunate communities,” said Caunhye. “Singakwenza wants to highlight the importance of early childhood development, especially for those children under the age of five who are at a critical time in the development of their brain potential,” said Julie Hay, founder and director of Singakwenza. “The key is to be able to provide children with many different play activities. A child will learn the same skills with a rope made from plastic bags as they would with one from a shop. It is the availability of a variety of toys that is important, not how much they cost.”Hay continues: “Education is one of the fundamental rights for children as stated in the South African constitution, and Singakwenza is proud to be able to fulfil this right in a sustainable and fun manner”.The Emirates Airline Foundation is no stranger to supporting charity initiatives with projects that extend to over 20 countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Morocco, India, UAE, Brazil, and the Philippines, just to mention a few. In SA, the Foundation supports Singakwenza in Pietermaritzburg and Fikelela Children’s Centre in Cape Town. Since the partnership with Singakwenza in 2014, Emirates’ funding has helped train 49 early childhood development practitioners in 15 crèches. Emirates’ continued commitment to enable a better quality of life globally is further strengthened by the 128 “Waste 2 Toys” workshops that were held in partnership with Singakwenza throughout SA, as well as in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland. — Supplied.