In late October, Africa Food for Thought (AFFT) hosted an inspiring and rejuvenating event that celebrated the unsung heroines of early childhood education: preschool principals. The Preschool Principal’s Camp brought together 28 dedicated principals from preschools supported by AFFT, and the theme of this year’s camp was “She is Brave.” These extraordinary women work tirelessly, often putting in 14-16 hour days, to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children in their communities.

The camp provided these remarkable women with a well-deserved break from their demanding roles and a chance to recharge. It was an opportunity for them to reflect on their own strength and bravery while focusing on personal growth and development.

The weekend was filled with a variety of activities aimed at reinvigorating their spirits. One standout experience was a challenging hike, where, for some of the attendees, it marked their first time climbing a mountain. The climb not only provided physical challenges but also served as a powerful metaphor for overcoming obstacles in their lives. As one principal put it, “Today I have overcome the MOST in my life – I have reached the top of a mountain!”

AFFT staff and volunteers also pampered these dedicated principals with spa treatments, giving them a moment to relax and unwind. A high tea event, complete with prizes for the best-dressed, allowed the principals to show their beauty and grace.

“Le reditse batho” ( You have made us noble)

~ Elizabeth Maleba

The camp featured a lineup of inspiring guest speakers who shared their wisdom and experiences. Olefile Masangane from Heartlines spoke about the importance of inclusivity in early childhood development. He challenged the attendees to recognize the role of “social fathers” in children’s lives, urging them to involve fathers in their Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers. His message, “start where you are, use what you have, do what you can,” resonated deeply with the audience.

Janet Fourie, a former AFFT volunteer who used to lead the preschool program, shared her personal health journey and the healing she has experienced. Her story was particularly encouraging to principals who are facing health challenges of their own. She ended by bringing out her beloved guitar and leading the ladies in song.

The keynote speaker, Emmah Mutimutema from KFC’s Add Hope program, inspired the attendees with her insights into personal reflection. Reflecting on the camp’s theme, “She is Brave,” Emmah pointed out the courage it takes to care for someone else’s child, emphasizing the trust parents place in these dedicated educators. She encouraged the principals to reflect on their accomplishments and strive for continued growth.

The feedback from the participants spoke volumes about the impact of the camp. They expressed feelings of inspiration, healing, and rejuvenation. Many remarked that the guest speakers’ messages felt deeply personal and uplifting. One participant shared, “With the guest speakers, it was like God was speaking straight to me.” Another said, “I will carry this weekend with me to the grave.”

In conclusion, the Preschool Principal’s Camp, hosted by Africa Food for Thought, provided an invaluable opportunity to celebrate the resilience and bravery of our preschool principals. These extraordinary women dedicate their lives to nurturing, protecting and educating the future generation, and events like this camp remind them that their work is appreciated and that they are never alone in their journey. The theme, “She is Brave,” perfectly encapsulated the spirit of these principals and their unwavering commitment to the children in their care.

“Thank you AFFT family for the lovely weekend getaway with you.
It truly was a blessing for new friendships and bonds formed. For me it was a spiritual encounter,
a needed rejuvenation of the body soul and mind.”