Learning For Life

Stories from the classroom: 4th Quarter 2016

When young people feel a sense of self-worth and purpose they’re more empowered to make wise life choices. Our Life Skills workers have seen this belief come to life time and time again; the valuable lessons they teach bearing fruit in the lives of the young learners they teach.

This year the learners from the four schools in Amaoti have particularly loved being exposed to new places, activities, and experiences through the Life Skills programme. The creative energies of the Girls Club have been ignited through beading, crafting and making. Some young ladies also visited COGS church for a morning of leadership training. And a few boys were taken a Leadership Camp where they were taught valuable life skills and had time to enjoy the outdoors. They were chosen for the trip to help them see life outside of the allure of underage drug and alcohol abuse. It was a jam-packed action adventure weekend and the boys left profoundly influenced and inspired.

Our youth workers continue to be equipped through regular trainings to tackle the challenges of teaching young learners faced with navigating being a teenager and are facing tough circumstances. We’re also incredibly lucky to have a handful of UNISA social work students placed with us during the year. They assist the youth workers with one-one-one counseling sessions and facilitate therapeutic groups for learners facing real challenges of sexual abuse, a terrible reality for many, as well as focus groups for those young learners who had lost parents and friends to HIV / AIDS.

This past quarter we also took the time to honour the four schools’ teachers by inviting them to a screening of Freedom Writers, a movie based on a true story of a teacher who was able to transform the lives of a classroom of at-risk students. It’s a movie promoting a message of empowerment, tolerance, and innovative teaching. There was clapping, smiles and tears.

Thank you to every donor for your support. Your donations enable us to steadily build into the lives of these young learners, which although challenging is both a privilege and an honour.


Girls club outing to Springfield swimming pool

The Girls Club outing to Springfield swimming pool.

Leadership camp with some boys from the Amaoti schools.

Leadership camp with some boys from the Amaoti schools.

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#KnowYourNPO: Life Skills

Throughout the year we’ve shone a light on each of The Domino Foundation’s expansive programmes so that you, our amazing supporters, can get to know more about us. Now it’s time for our Life Skills programme to take the limelight… #KnowyourNPO #LifeSkills


#1. Our Life Skills vision is to empower young learners to make wise life choices, instilling in them a sense of self-worth and purpose and offering them hope for the future. Through engaging life skills lessons and after school recreational activities in three Amaoti schools we help learners realise the immense value they carry – and that they can change their world!

#2. Our Life Skills lessons offer learners an open and engaging platform to talk through tough topics. Either parents are too busy or the school is viewed as being responsible for bringing up the children; leaving complicated topics like puberty, relationships, and friendships without any discussion. In order for learners to develop as adults, they need to have an opportunity to reflect, discuss and act. 

#3. The Boys and Girls Club provides a safe and fun space for learners to explore creative and sporting interests. The three schools the Life Skills Project works into don’t always have the resources to offer stimulating afternoon activities, so our clubs facilitate sessions on soccer, aerobics, and medical talks. We’re all about creating a well-rounded learner! 

#4 Wanting to know exactly how our Life Skills programme operates?


#5 As with most schools we reach – sports, culture and other recreational activities are not easily accessible, so our Boys & Girls Club bridges that gap and provides fun sports and recreational options for learners as seen in the awesome infographic below.


#6 There are many ways to support our Life Skills programme like donating via Zapper South Africa. Simply scan the QR code below and BAM – you’re funding a child’s education!


#7 Another way to support our Life Skills programme is to add The Domino Foundation as your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet beneficiary. You can have up to 3 beneficiaries so no need to just choose one! More here and update details here.

Categories: Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Life Skills, Domino Literacy, Learning For Life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My 10 little lightbulb moments about volunteering at a non-profit

Annelize Muller shares her journey of volunteering at an NPO and the valuable nuggets of wisdom she’s learned along the way.

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Enlightening. That’s the word that comes to mind when I tell you about my last 5 months. I’m a Product Development Manager at a big corporate and have been in the corporate environment for the past 11 years. A seed was planted in my heart a few years ago of giving back to our South African community, to do something more, be part of the change, share, learn and really understand our people, especially those who are not as privileged as I am. Although in saying privileged I sometimes feel that our poorer communities are much richer in true life value than what we could ever be in our individualised world’s, big offices, nice running cars and comfortable houses.

My company graciously approved my request for a 7 month sabbatical to go and learn about the needs of our communities, understand how a NPO works, how corporate and non-profits can hold hands to create a brighter future and to revive my soul so I can come back and be the best leader I can be.

So I share my 10 lightbulb moments I had in the hope that someone can either learn from them or be able to share their own lightbulb moments that will make for a better South Africa today.

Lightbulb #1: The REAL need vs YOUR need to give:

For anyone who knows Maslow’s Hierarchy, he hit the nail on the head. Our poorer communities’ needs are really really basic. Food and security (safety of a home) are what they need and once that need is consistently filled it will release them to start thinking about things such as education, working etc.

But often we give on the level we’re sitting on. For example, when I joined the Life Skills Girls Club team, where I helped facilitate extra-mural activities for teenage girls, I first organised pilates classes. This was an epic fail because it was not aligned with the REAL need but only with my own.

To put it more in perspective, have you ever had a day at school or work without food? Or calculated a maths sum on an empty stomach?

Lightbulb #2: It can’t be about pity or charity, it’s got to be a win-win

In no way is this point supposed to make you feel guilty for having a nice car and a comfortable house. I have got mine.

My question is, what are the factors that got you where you are today? A good education? Books to read? Parents that were happy to talk about the birds and the bees? If you think back about the little things you take for granted that made you a success, I believe those are the small things that YOU can give to the others if you want to see our whole country succeed. And in doing so you might just learn something mind blowing in return…..

Lightbulb #3: Our country is full of potential – harvest it!

At The Domino Foundation’s AGM we had the privilege of listening to 6 youngsters who came through our life skills programme in Gr4 -7 and who are now in their final year of school. I was totally overwhelmed with their hard work ethic, what beautiful leadership quality they displayed and how much they attributed their success to the Life Skills programme. We have endless amounts of talent in our country that just doesn’t have the opportunity to be nurtured or receive guidance from an adult. It’s unforgivable that we let these beautiful people slip through the cracks

Lightbulb #4: Sustained input = sustained output

Just like your car needs to be continuously filled up with fuel to run at its optimum, it’s very much the same with us as human beings. We need consistent input, environment and care for us to really flourish. The talent I spoke about above has been really guided and molded by our youth workers Jomo, Sifiso, Nonte and Thobile, who are amazing, committed and big-hearted individuals. They’re in these kids lives every single week, having conversations with them on a big brother/sister basis and building trust and the type of relationships that change lives. The once a month visit I made to the school cannot come close to the change these young people are making through continually investing their time and energy. 

Sustained input really gives visible sustained output.

Lightbulb #5: Domino has well trained, capable and experienced staff – so empower them with resources to succeed

For a very long time I’ve been living in my ignorant bubble that success (at a corporate) means that the value I add everywhere is equal. For example, that any NPO would need my skills to succeed. This is NOT TRUE!  I was so pleasantly enlightened when I started working at Domino to see that they have all the right skills for the job, are just as committed and skilled as any corporate animal, but with a different purpose in mind. So if we have the right people in place we should really just give them the resources to execute their purpose exceptionally well.

How can we expect them to feed the hungry, educate our country’s kids and care for the needy if we don’t give them the resource to do it? I always thought that just donating money was an easy way out but now I see it (the donation) as an enabler for nonprofits to make the change we don’t have the time or skills to make. ( Lightbulb #4: sustained input = sustained output)

Lightbulb #6: Cost and value are not directly related

This phrase has been floating around for the last few months at The Domino Foundation, about how the price of something simply can’t be equated to what value it brings. For example, one 5 minute conversation (at no Cost to you) can lead to a donation of 100kg’s of soap powder which has a value of 4 months’ worth of clean linen and clothes for our babies in our Babies home.

Or, one 30 second conversation and a person in my network spreading the word (at no cost you or them) can lead to 4 brand new single beds to help out 4 families in need after the floods, which has a value of keeping them off sleeping on a cold damp floor so that they’re able to go to work every day.

So what it costs us to just have conversations and spot opportunities can NEVER translate into the value it can bring to someone else in need. The cost is small but the value is HUGE!

Lightbulb #7: People want to help so give them the opportunity to do so

I’ve been amazed at how gracious all my colleagues at work and my friends have been and how they’ve all given in their own way. Whether it is funding for one of our Girls’ Club sessions or coming to help at Amaoti and pushing aside fears of going into unfamiliar territory – I’ve not once had to beg for the support. Sometimes people just need the opportunity and the giving just overflows.

Lightbulb #8: People need leadership to give sustainably and in the right way.

If the giving is so easy for people then why does it not happen all the time? I now realise that just like anything else, like a personal trainer at gym or a leader of the mom’s group, you still need someone to take up the reigns, give direction and impart knowledge to make sure we give continuously and in the right way. This doesn’t take a huge amount of leadership, skill or cost – just a bit of time, some guts to ask questions and the desire to make a difference. The reward is immeasurable. (See Lightbulb #6: Cost vs Value)

Lightbulb #9: Be connected on both ends

Spending time at Domino was completely different than I originally imagined. I thought I would be out in the field grinding it out but I ended up spending more time in the office sitting in the middle of the NPO cog and listening to conversations and sometimes adding my 2 cents. Hearing the needs inside Domino and being able to respond to relevant opportunities outside Domino to immediately fill their needs helped me understand the organisation so much more. When you have a foot in both worlds magic truly happens. Gold comes from conversations and it’s turned into uplifted lives.

Lightbulb #10: Purpose = drive, motivation, energy, determination, guts & tenacity, which leads to LIFE

I honestly didn’t think I would be going back to my corporate job but I have a new purpose in mind, a new understanding of what opportunity sits within corporate to support NGOs and a salary which can be used to fund and empower these amazing people and the value it can bring to uplift others. I can’t wait to have more conversations, inspire others to think just one step further with what they have, see how corporate can truly support NPO and be a part of a team that I can be proud to say cares about the world and its people. 

Here’s to a lifetime of creating brighter futures!

Categories: Domino Life Skills, Domino Volunteer Of the Week, Learning For Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New season, new roles

With a new season comes new leadership. As the Domino Foundation increases its capacity to reach more communities there have been some internal shifts to ensure that the hands who do this work are passionate, skilled and ready to impact lives.

At the beginning of the year Mickey Wilkins stepped down as CEO of the Domino Foundation. After twelve incredible years of leading the non-profit Mickey has now decided to look after the sustainability of Domino and has started Domino Business. As of February 2016 the Domino Foundation welcomed in a new CEO, Richard Mun-Gavin, lead pastor of Cogs Church. Not only does Richard bring a wealth of pastoral experience but his passion for people means he’s more than ready to take Domino into a new season of growth.

Shaun Tait has officially moved into the role of  COO and is overseeing the day to day operations of all the programmes and its staff. Although a tall task Shaun has slid into his role with effort and ease.

After heading up the ECD team since its inception Toni Wilkins has decided to focus her attentions on the Life Skills programme and counselling at the Door of Hope Counselling Centre. The team is now been led by the capable Jessica King, who moved over from donor relations. Jessica is more than qualified for the position and brings her unique learnings from her studies, a Bachelor of Social Science in Organisational Psychology and Industrial Sociology and a Foundation Phase Teaching qualification and is currently Clinical Psychology. Jessica also handles the Domino volunteers.

And in the feeding programme Cathy Whittle has taken over the reigns as Programme Manager. Cathy comes from the cooking industry and has the heaps of experience needed to steer the many Domino feeding projects in the right direction. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s our Sandwich Kitchen, Soup Kitchen and Relief Kitchen. Past Project Manager, Brenda Scheepers has moved onto an exciting venture with Domino Business, which you can read more about here.


Categories: Domino ECD, Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Feeding, Domino Life Skills, Domino People, Fairhavens, Feeding, Learning For Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stories from the classroom: Life Skills Effects 1st Quarter 2016


We believe in developing the personal and social well being of the 800 children we mentor through our Life Skills lessons and after school clubs. For many years our life skills workers have been helped these young learners’ develop positive self esteem and realise the immense value they carry – and that they can change their world!

  • Time and time again our mentors see the importance of having an open and engaging platform for learners to talk through tough topics. Either parents are too busy or the school is viewed as being responsible for bringing up the children; leaving complicated topics like puberty, relationships and friendships without any discussion. In order for them to develop as adults, learners need to have the opportunity to reflect, discuss and act, an opportunity the life skills class provides.
  • The Boys and Girls Club provides a safe and fun space for learners to explore creative and sporting interests. The four schools the Life Skills Project works into don’t always have the resources to offer stimulating afternoon activities, so our clubs facilitate sessions on soccer, aerobics and medical talks. We’re all about creating a well-rounded learner!
Categories: Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Life Skills, Learning For Life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Literacy Effect 11/14

One of the objectives of the literacy programme we run is “to support educators and work alongside the schools in teaching the children how to read and write in English” by doing this we are able to impact classes upon classes of illiterate children and empower them with the knowledge they need to succeed in life.

Over the past 3 months we’ve looked at the different techniques we use to teach these children and the benefits of these strategies. For the final month we look at:


What are sound fans?

Sound fans are a teaching aid.  Each part of the fan has a sound, blend or digraph printed on it.

How is this done in the classroom?

  • the educator says the sound / blend / digraph
  • the children repeat
  • children find on fan, hold close and on signal show the educator

Why is this done?

Sound fans help the children consolidate their knowledge of sounds, blends or digraphs.



The benefits of sound fans

  • Supports children in reinforcing their knowledge of sounds
  • Helps build self-esteem

Outcomes we want to achieve?

Through developing a knowledge of sounds, blends and digraphs children will develop the basic knowledge necessary to read or spell.

‘One of the most common reasons for failure to progress in second language learning is lack of opportunity for consolidation.  The key to success are: small steps, frequent repetition and a wide variety of consolidation activities.’ Language without limits, (2014) [online]

Sounds fans are one of five activities we use to consolidate basic knowledge.

Read more from our November Domino Effects Newsletter:

Babies Home Effect

ECD Effect

Life Skills Effect

Feeding Effect

General Overview


Categories: Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Literacy, Learning For Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Skills Effect 10/14

Our Life Skills program is multi-faceted. We work into various spheres in the Amaoti community. From life skills lessons, to ‘Boys and Girls Club’ which offers positive after-school activities, to obtaining I.D. Books and birth certificates for desperate individuals through our Home Affairs Liaison, Judy Cater. Either way, we seek to empower the individual and help them path the way to a brighter future.

Life Skills Lessons:

The youth workers modeled a necklace to their classes and asked the question – “If we removed any one bead from this necklace, would it be how it was intended to by its Creator?”
One of the pupils answered profoundly: “Not one bead must be removed because as a person, that bead adds VALUE to the necklace.”

Our lessons impact hundreds weekly, reaching 3 schools in Amaoti and encouraging each pupil to make wise life choices that will prosper them and give them a hope and a future._DSC7052

Girls Club:

After an amazing Pamper Day (read all about it here), Girls Club has officially ended for the year. So to pay tribute to all the amazing lessons and wisdom that was imparted this year, we’ve decided to dedicate every month to a value that was taught or a conversation that was had.

This month we focus on the teaching of teenage pregnancy.

Our youth workers discussed how it’s better to wait until marriage before having children. They informed the young teens as to how a happy family is the best environment for a baby and that in the current stage of their life their goals should be based on achieving academically.

Since the beginning of our Girls Club we’ve seen a drastic change in the amount of teenage pregnancies in the schools we work into. The change is evident, and we will continue to teach until we see an entire community impacted and a new generation rise up!


Read more from the October 14 Domino Effects Newsletter here:

Babies Home Effect

Literacy Effect

ECD Effect

Feeding Effect

General Overview



Categories: Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Life Skills, Learning For Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Pampered Body, A Pampered Spirit.

On the 22nd of October 110 girls from Amaoti 3 School travelled to COGS Durban North for a day filled with informative talks, amazing food and awesome pampering! The 13-16 year old age group for girls is a time of adolescence, growing up and change so we see it as important to give these girls the tools and knowledge they need to be inspired and encouraged in a positive, safe and relaxing way.

The girls were treated to 4 inspirational talks by various speakers, all relating to empowering women to take pride in themselves and live a happy life.


The girls were encouraged by KwaMashu Social Worker: Mpume Thusi who was a teenage parent that persevered through her circumstances and reached her goal of becoming a Social Worker. She made the most of her situation and obtained her matric and then proceeded to finish her degree through UNISA, doing her last year through The Domino Foundation.


Nkululekho Ngcobo is a young food-fanatic who is passionate about helping young people live a life that is healthy and balanced. She enlightened the girls with an exercise and eating plan that would benefit them for years to come.


Vanilla Bar’s beauty therapist, Andy Oliver volunteered her time and even closed her salon for the day to come and speak about how to look after your skin in an easy, affordable way.


The 4th and final speech was a more personal one. Mandy Hlope is a matric student at Amaoti 3 who was one of the first members of our Girls’ Club. Mandy was a source of encouragement and hope as she spoke about how the foundations she learnt at Girls’ Club lead her to a better life where she was in control. She showed the girls that their futures could be bright if they let them be. They can look forward to what’s ahead!

Why are these type of days important?

A pampered spirit is just as important as a pampered person. We try to engage in as many activites as possible like this with the girls we work alongside with. They not only get to interact with each other in a safe environment, but tackle important issues that face them daily. We get to play a part in the positive uplifting of over 100 girls and we are honoured to have this privilege!

Photo 2014-10-22, 9 16 21 AM Photo 2014-10-22, 9 16 27 AM

Categories: Community News, Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Life Skills, Domino People, Learning For Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Literacy Effect 9/14

SMC-FB-Images-LITDAYSeptember the 8th was International Literacy Day.

“Our words are powerful. The potency of a written word can arm a person with the wisdom and ability to make a difference… A literate person is empowered, strengthened and has a more hopeful future. But with approximately 860 million illiterate adults worldwide, the time is now – more than ever – to fight for every human’s right to be educated.”

During the course of the week, we released videos and posts about Literacy and Illiteracy in South Africa and the methods we utilize to teach literacy in the various schools we work alongside with.


We continue to teach close to 1000 children at 3 different schools in Amaoti. Our Literacy teachers work with children in grades 2 and 3 to develop phonic skills of the learners in order to equip them to read and write in English. We reinforce various sounds with the children, introduce them to new sounds and apply the knowledge of these sounds to the reading and spelling of simple words.

Our Literacy workers/tutors use various techniques to teach these sounds. Over the next 3 months we will be focusing on the individual techniques we use and take a closer look at how they work.


  • Shared reading is done in grade 3 classes.
  • The children sit in the front of the class and read together, in unison from a basic English reader.
  • The teacher points to the words as they are reading.
  • This type of learning encourages every child to participate and read aloud.
  • It is an opportunity for learners to apply their knowledge to the reading of a text.
  • It develops their reading AND comprehension skills.


Our staff have been through a process of peer mentoring, where they have observed each others’ lessons.

Peer mentoring:

  • helps people to learn from one another
  • is a way in which staff can support their colleagues by helping them to identify what they are doing well
  • allows feedback to be given
  • can help to promote good practice

Each tutor was also asked to identify a learning point, something they had observed in their peers lesson that they wanted to apply to their own teaching. This worked very well, each tutor took away with them something to implement to improve their own teaching.


We received incredible book donations during the Literacy Drive! Over 300 books have been sent out to various schools in Amaoti. We’d like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everyone’s support during this month and their contribution to fighting illiteracy in our country.

Photo 2014-09-11, 15 09 10

Read more from the September Domino Effects Newsletter here:

General Overview

Babies Home Effect

Life Skills Effect

ECD Effect

Feeding Effect

Categories: Community News, Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Literacy, Learning For Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Life Skills Effect 9/14

Our vision in the Life Skills Programme is to empower learners to make wise life choices, instilling in them a sense of self worth and purpose and offering them hope for the future.



Members of the girls’ club in an aerobics class.

As the term winds down, we officially ended Boys and Girls Club for 2014. This year has been an awesome one for both clubs. 122 girls from grades 7,8 and 9 have participated in the Girls’ Club. They’ve had incredible times of teaching, aerobics classes and awesome connect times and look forward to ending off the year with an excursion/ pamper day! The boys club has engaged with all things soccer – from tournaments against Northwood and Vopak, to friendly matches and guidance from Amazulu Coaches. 92 boys have been a part of the club this year and we look forward to an even greater response next year.


Members of the boys club ready to play some soccer!



IMG_9867Grade 4 Learners at Ekuthuleni and Zwakele are all busy with the assignments set by the life skills team.

At Zwakele they are busy with a project on their family.  They have to talk about who is in their family, what they do for fun, what occasions they celebrate together, what religion they are and what they love about their family.  We are looking forward to seeing what the children produce.

At Ekuthuleni, the learners are learning how to work in groups.  Each group has to decide what they are going to do together to make their school a better place.  They then have 1 week to put their plan into practice and present their “mission” on Taking Responsibility in the form of a project.  The project brief asks them to individually create a cover page, to talk about what their group did for their mission, who did what, when they did it and what they learnt from the mission.  We are excited to hear back from these projects and empower these kids to ‘be the change’ they’d like to see in their school.


On the 25th of September our youth workers attended a workshop by Soul Action on “well being.”  The focus of this will be on looking at developing a feeling of well being personally as well as for the children they work with. These workshops are beneficial for not only our staff but also the hundreds of kids they work with and impact daily.


Following on from last month’s multiple soccer events, we received an AWESOME donation of soccer boots. kits and soccer balls for our sporting enthusiasts in Amaoti. The donations were generously given to us by Vopak – the same company who organised the matches in August. These boys love playing soccer and it is an incredible way to get them involved in positive activity. They were very overjoyed with their new boots and balls – and there is no doubt that they will be put to good use!

Edusolution donated a number of textbooks and posters. Our team are in the process of liaising with the schools that we work with to distribute valuable English, Maths and Science resources.

We’d like to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to both Vopak and Edusolution for their generous donations!


Read more from the September Domino Effects Newsletter here:

General Overview

Babies Home Effect

Literacy Effect

ECD Effect

Feeding Effect

Categories: Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Life Skills, Learning For Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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