The Goedgedacht Trust was founded in 1992 with the dream of uplifting rural communities through Early Childhood Development projects.
These projects aimed to address the high incidence of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder among the children of rural farm workers. Over the years the model has grown into a basket of 18 interventions called the Path out of Poverty Program (POP). Our main aim is poverty alleviation delivered through a unique basket of holistic long and short term intervention strategies that are innovative, replicable and in time, sustainable and low cost. Our programs are delivered through our network of community centers where we provide a range of services for children and youth aged 2 months to 18 years and beyond. The POP program includes rural infrastructure development, youth leadership, early childhood development, gender equity, food security, education, safe houses, social development, climate change initiatives and much more. Our vision is to develop self-sustaining, transformed and flourishing communities.
Our main aim is poverty alleviation delivered through a basket of holistic intervention strategies that are innovative and sustainable. Our programs are delivered through our network of community centers where we provide a range of services for children and youth.We believe that the first 1000 days of a child’s life are the key to ensuring a healthy, happy and prosperous future. Our programmes begin with expectant mothers and support the child from birth to adulthood. We aim to develop self-sustaining, transformed and flourishing communities. The core values of POP are “education, health and well-being, personal development and care for the planet”. These are embedded in all the projects that make up the program.After celebrating POP’s 10th anniversary in 2008 it was agreed that the model was sufficiently successful for us to embark upon a program of expansion and replication in other disadvantaged, rural areas.
We have made an Impact!
Between 1992 and 2015 we have grown from a small Early Childhood Development center into a multi-faceted, holistic and sustainable organisation that serves over 6000 rural children and their families annually. We provide meals, education, transport, sporting activities, clothing and places of safety for our children on a daily basis.
When Path Out of Poverty, the flagship program of the Goedgedacht Trust, was started in 1998, 95% of the farm children in the Riebeeksrivier valley had dropped out of school by year five and there was a high incidence of teenage pregnancy. POP now offers a wide range of services which include a crèche, a pre-school, support for children in primary and secondary school, after-school activities and help with homework, safe houses to go to for protection and food over weekends, work preparedness training for high school children and unemployed youth, youth leadership and life skills training, cultural exposure programs, sporting activities, health awareness education, school holiday programs, camps and community work. With your support we reached over 7000 children in 2015.
“Teen and pre-teen pregnancy has dropped and increasingly Path-out-of-Poverty (POP) graduates are having their first babies in their 20s, as sober women, equipped to nurture their babies. The POP programme has shown it is possible to make a difference by encouraging social cohesion, stability and the healing of past hurts.”
The Goedgedacht Trust, headquartered at Kasteelberg near Malmesbury, is a Western Cape community development trust, developed 23 years ago. Its focus is on helping rural children and youth in West Coast and Boland towns to break free from the entrapment of the long-entrenched cycle of generational poverty.
Its innovative Path-Out-of-Poverty (POP) programme takes a multi-faceted approach and is based on the premise that appropriate early intervention in education, health care, personal development and environmental awareness can lead to transformed rural communities and substantial savings in social spending by Government. The Distell Foundation is a major supporter of this initiative.
Working with vulnerable youth in the Swartland, Riebeek Kasteel, Riebeek West, Paarl and the Cederberg, the programme focuses on life-skills training to improve decision-making. It runs projects during the school term, as well as on weekends and holidays, and includes drama therapy interventions. Participants are also taught skills in theatre craft, from acting, directing and script-writing to more technical skills such as sound, lighting and management, enhancing their career and job opportunities.
As far as possible, POP centres are staffed by young people from their local communities. Explains Goedgedacht director, Ingrid Lestrade: “It is critical that we build leadership amongst young people. Rural communities need young men and women with integrity, who are passionate about making a contribution in their own environment. Our long-term vision is to have rural communities with young, healthy, confident and educated people who have completed the POP programme. We want to see young people take up leadership roles amongst their own.”
Each centre provides those in its care one nutritious meal a day and runs “surrogate parenting” projects that provide safe spaces for very poor children many of whom have been badly damaged by poverty.
An important element of the POP programme is the focus on caring for the planet. With predictions that the west coast of Southern Africa will become progressively hotter and drier, poverty in the region could be exacerbated. Against this background, POP also teaches children how to take care of their physical environment in a way that makes them eco-aware through its energy-saving and biodiversity conservation programmes.
It is seeing dramatic results from its integrated interventions. “In 1998 we found that virtually all farm children from the Riebeek River Valley dropped out of school before the fifth academic year. Now all POP members go to high school, many complete their matric or at least reach Grade 10 and go on to get jobs,” says Lestrade.
“Teen and pre-teen pregnancy has dropped and increasingly POP graduates are having their first babies in their 20s, as sober women, equipped to nurture their babies.
“The POP programme has shown it is possible to make a difference by encouraging social cohesion, stability and the healing of past hurts.”