About us


The Afri-CAN Children’s Charity was created as a result of eight years in the field, running a variety of entrepreneurially driven socially impactful projects. Our aim is to create a programme that has maximum impact with strong datasets to prove where we are getting things right and where we need to improve. Focusing on our 1 to 6-year-old beneficiaries as well as the staff and owners of the Early Childhood Development Centres/Nurseries (ECD Centres) has allowed us to maximise our impact.

It is simple – hungry children can’t learn. Education is the most effective route out of the poverty trap. A clean, safe, and professional environment for these kids in their first steps in life and education is the minimum they deserve. Failure to provide this is invariably catastrophic for the child.


To facilitate the creation of clean, safe and professionally run ECD Centres in the townships of South Africa, maximising the positive impact on both children and teachers by providing the support identified in our 6 Key Pillars. We target those existing, unregistered ECD Centres that are in desperate conditions, requiring intervention in order to become registered and Government compliant, thereby accessing the Department of Social Development support system (and funding).


We recognise the first 6 years of a child’s life will define much about them. We recognise too that the more we empower the owners and teachers at ECD Centres, the broader and more profound the community benefits. We work and consult with other NGOs and the South African Government to ensure our efforts are part of the national programme.


To ensure all children aged from 1 to 6 years old in our expanding programme have access to a clean, safe, and secure learning environment. To ensure sustainability of each of the ECD Centres and that the best training is available to the teachers and principals to improve their service to their pupils and their communities.


The first 5 years of life have a profound effect on a child’s future. Events in early childhood – even before birth – play a vital role in shaping health, education, social and economic outcomes for the duration of the child’s life.

Growing up in a situation of poverty, which is the case for nearly 2 out of 3 young children in South Africa influences their survival, growth and educational opportunities.

Evidence has shown that poor nutrition, hygiene and healthcare, insufficient psychological stimulation, and exposure to neglect, abuse or violence during early childhood all have detrimental effects on development, which are nearly impossible to fix in later life.




We provide critical support to struggling Early Childhood Development Centres/Nurseries (ECD Centres) located in the poorest and most underprivileged townships of South Africa, where education is seen as the only way to escape poverty.

Our mission is two fold; to get the children ‘School-Ready’ by the time they are 6, and to ensure the ECD Centres can be registered with the South African Government. This takes a matrix of support culminating in better ECD Centres, long-term employment and sustainability for the teachers and nursery owners. We operate in townships where unemployment can typically run at 80%.

Through 6 inter-related pillars we support the delivery of health, education and safety to vulnerable children as well as facilitate the training and up-skilling that adults need to teach the children and successfully run the ECD Centres.

Teachers and owners are the heart of the communities and are key to ECD Centres success. Without them, none of our initiatives could be implemented and maintained. Through our Teacher Training and Entrepreneurship Mentorship programmes, we help with the registration of the ECD Centres with local governing bodies and help to create sustainable businesses.

Without all of these 6 key pillars working congruently – it’s simple. The children fail. We fail.

Camille Paterson – Programme Director says:
“There is NO point providing a healthy nutritious meal programme to children in an unsafe, unhygienic, structurally unsound environment surrounded by teachers who don’t care. This is why our 6 Pillar Approach is vital to getting these children School-Ready. Without any one of these pillars we simply fail our children. And in my view, as a South African, we fail our future.”




6 Pillars


Feeding our children is the foundation of our programme because nutrition is essential for learning, cognitive development and healthy growth.   STARTING EARLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Malnutrition is a major underlying cause of death in South Africa and 11.4% of the deaths of South African children under five can be attributed to low weight. In addition, 1 in 5 children are stunted and many are deficient in the vitamins and minerals vital to good health and optimal development (UNICEF).

It is widely recognized that poor performance in school and poor cognitive development are directly connected to malnutrition in children. Hungry children cannot learn.
And that is why we believe that providing a nutritious meal to all children is the key to their learning and development and the first step in escaping poverty.

We create Government approved, age-specific, nutritious meal plans with controlled delivery of fresh ingredients to all our Early Childhood Development Centres/Nurseries (ECD Centres). These are designed to optimise the healthy cognitive development and physical growth.

“Our aim is to ensure that every child in need between 1-6 years old has a healthy nutritious meal every school day during this key foundation phase of their brain development”
Camille Paterson – Programme Director


We repair or build brand new Early Childhood Development Centres/Nurseries (ECD Centres) using simple but effective construction materials to create warm, clean and safe environments for the children

The aim is that all our ECD Centres become government compliant and Department of Social Development (DSD) registered in order to apply for government funding/aid.

Working with NGOs and local businesses we design and build government approved structures that provide secure, clean and safe environments for the children that will enable government registration

Some of the key provisions of the structural programme include:

  •     Kitchens for the healthy preparation of meals
  •     Running water and sanitation for hygienic conditions
  •     Dry, warm and safe play areas conducive to learning

3. W A S H   (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene)

Our WASH pillar focuses on improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in the Early Childhood Development Centres/Nurseries (ECD Centres) and ensuring that, where possible, each ECD Centre is WASH compliant.

To create and maintain health standards, we ensure running water and flushing toilets in each of our ECD Centres.

We implement WASH Training for both teachers and children, which includes a WASH song the children love to sing. This program is regularly monitored to ensure that standards are maintained.


Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world, they are building our future generations. In such hostile environments where education is the key to a better life, the role of teachers is enhanced.

We provide support, training, mentoring and evaluation for teachers within the townships, encouraging their personal development and ensuring high standards of teaching in order to get children ‘School Ready’.

Some of the modules within the programme include:

  •     WASH
  •     Nutrition
  •     Fire
  •     Child Abuse Prevention
  •     National Curriculum Guidelines
  •     DSD Regulations
  •     Healthy Teeth


We facilitate access to education programmes that meet the national curriculum and get kids ‘School Ready’.

We support our teachers with implementing Government curriculum guidelines and ensure monitoring and evaluation; thus aiding the registration with Government bodies for certification of the Early Childhood Development Centres/Nurseries (ECDs).


A key pillar of support is creating sustainability within the Early Childhood Development Centres/Nurseries (ECD Centres). And at Afri-CAN Children’s Charity we provide the platform for each ECD Centre to be a fully self-sustainable business.

Through training and mentoring, we provide our business owners with business and technical skills to promote self-sustainability, allowing teachers to successfully run their ECD Centre.

In addition, we help the business owners gain access to grant funding for further infrastructure upgrades.




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