Palms for Life works in countries where it has an in-depth understanding of the local environment and where it has established unique partnerships with organizations who are able to implement projects locally. Palms for Life also supports the local capacity of its implementing partners. This guarantees Palms for Life projects are of the highest quality and generate maximum impact and potential for scalability. 

formerly Swaziland

In partnership with the European Union

1) Reducing Vulnerability of Children at the Grassroot

Location: Swaziland: Hhohho and Manzini Regions
Participants: 3,000 vulnerable children; 90 NCPs; 27,000 community members;
Main funding provided by the European Union with Euros 1.5 M over 40 months;
The project is executed by Palms for Life Fund, Swaziland.

Swaziland’s mountainous and arid regions are home to a population burdened by a high rate of poverty — around 69% of its people live on less than 60 US cents per day. The landlocked, South Africa-dependent country’s economy struggles, in part because about 70% of its population engages in subsistence agriculture. Floods, droughts, and basic agricultural technologies not only restrict economic growth, but make food security a challenge. Compounding the problem is the high prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS. 26 percent of the population aged between 15 and 49 years is HIV positive—the highest rate in the world. On average, Swazi born in 2007 could expect to live for only about 45 years. The impact of HIV/AIDS has been especially grim for Swazi children. Over 80,000 children in the country are orphans. A child heads 15% of households in the country. Widespread poverty, disease and agricultural instability place the Swazi in a highly vulnerable position.)

In late 2014, the EU awarded Palms for Life Fund a grant to contribute to the wellbeing of most vulnerable children in Swaziland by strengthening and enabling community organizations, namely Neighbourhood Care Points (NCPs), to provide sustainable quality services to these children. Using participatory methods and anchored in a policy framework, the project began the pre-positioning phase of implementation in January 2015.

The project’s core objectives include:

Strategic Objective 1:

Strengthening community ownership of 90 NCPs by mobilizing and building NCP capacity and assisting NCPs to establish sustainable micro-democracies.

Strategic Objective 2:

Improving critical community assets and lifeskills at marginalized NCPs, which improves service delivery and infrastructure for vulnerable children, focusing on health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, with the full participation of community members.

Strategic Objective 3:

Strengthening and support NCPs’ abilities to provide and maintain reliable food systems for themselves, in a hygienic and safe environment, leading to changes in behavior/practices.

2) Siya Kanyekanye Social Enterprise Project

Strengthening Skills and Income Generating Opportunities for Youth Living with Disability/ Vulnerability: Local Production and Sale of Educational Toys in Swaziland

This is the second project operated by Palms for Life Fund (Swaziland) with main funding provided by the European Union. The contract for this project was signed in December 2017 and activities began in February 2018.

The Project has a dual purpose:

  1. Designing and producing high-quality educational toys;
  2. Creating tangible social and economic opportunities for young adults and youth living with disability and living in vulnerability.

Siya Kanyekanye aims to create a financially viable social enterprise, which will make quality educational toys, by working with people living with disability (PWD) and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that serve them. The overall goal is to improve resilience and social inclusion for PWD and in vulnerable life situations in Swaziland, with a particular focus on youth, by generating new sources of income and employment, and reducing stigma. 

The Social Enterprise Project expects 4 important outcomes:

  1. A viable production line of Swaziland-made educational toys, produced at existing CSOs/vocational workshops that serve women and men living with disability/living in vulnerability[1];
  2. A sustainable marketing system for these toys, which generates income and employment, with additional proceeds supporting these CSOs/vocational workshops in their ongoing programming;
  3. Expanded vocational training opportunities for PWD/living in vulnerability based on the production of educational toys; and
  4. Reduced stigma for PWD through an inspiring, awareness-raising media campaign, in coordination with Government.

[1] Gender equity is important to the Project.  The proposed toys will be made of wood and cloth, which can be made by women and men.  Preliminary research at CSOs shows that, while more men tend to work with wood, and more women tend to work with cloth, both women and men can and do work with either material.  PFLF advocates for gender equity with all components of the Project, which should be included in all assessments in the FA.

The Importance of Play and Educational Toys:

“As adults, we might think [that play] is wasted time, especially since game[s] do not show any significant results.  But for children of all ages, playing is not just a nice way to pass the time, but an exercise for life.”

                                    -Von Simone Leinkauf, Intelligence- A Child’s Play

It is now widely accepted that early childhood education and appropriate play-learning are the building blocks for development (  Scientists who study play found that children’s brain activity increases significantly during play (University of Illinois, from Leinkauf, Intelligence- A Child’s Play).  For a young boy or girl, “there is no division between playing and learning; between the thing he or she does ’just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational’.  The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play” (P. Leach).  Playing in the early years of a child’s life is formative for intelligence, and emotional and physical development.

PFLF’s Sinaka Umliba Project, which worked with 90 Neighbourhood Care Points and Community Preschools in Swaziland in 2014-2018, found that educational toys are extraordinarily rare at these marginalized Community Childcare Centres.  Swaziland’s Ministry of Education and Training notes that play-learning prepares children for primary school, and children who are not exposed to stimulating, early childhood care and play will be instantly disadvantaged in formal school.  This means that the overwhelming gap between marginalized children- those living in poverty/vulnerability and/or children who live with disability- and their more privileged counterparts will expand, from day one in primary school. 


A valuable component of the Siya Kanyekanye Social Enterprise Project is to engage the private sector and corporate social responsibility programmes to help lessen this gap by providing and/or subsidizing the purchase of some of the Project’s educational toys for vulnerable children/children living with disability.

Examples of educational toys that the Project will assess and potentially customize/produce include:


Early Childhood Development Among the San Communities:

Earlier this year, we successfully completed a Rapid Assessment of ECD among San Communities in Namibia, a research paper prepared jointly with UNICEF Namibia and the Namibian Government, with funding from OSISA and other private partners, that confirmed the daily social and economic challenges faced by marginalised San communities that directly affect their children’s basic human right of accessing quality Early Childhood Development.The Report was officially launched by the Vice President of Namibia on June 6, 2018 at an event attended by our Executive Director, Hannah Laufer-Rottman. Here are some pics of the event:



The astonishing outcome of that Rapid Assessment is that the highest authorities of the Namibian Government, and all key ministries have participated in a Consultative Meeting where priority actions have jointly been defined. Much work has to be done to allow marginalised San communities to participate in the country’s mainstream economic and social development, in a dignifying way, remaining true to their precious and unique cultural heritage.

Palms for Life is proud to be part of that historical process. With the active support of partners and friends, and in close collaboration with the Government of Namibiawe will start working on a Pilot Project to improve ECD among a select group of San communities. This is just the beginning!


Palms for Life Fund working in Namibia for the San people: the Oldest Inhabitants of Namibia. (1)

In early 2016, as Palms for Life developed a strategy to radically change the framework of Early Childhood Development in Swaziland, I became coincidentally aware of disturbing facts affecting children among the San communities in another African country, Namibia. I heard about the San people very early on during my college life at the Université Libre de Bruxelles thanks to my anthropology professor Luc de Heusch and the readings of Claude Levi Strauss. Now, as my work brings me closer to possibly helping the San children in Namibia, I feel highly motivated to try to do my share.

Therefore, after several days of doing my research, I discovered one dedicated organization called the Kalahari Peoples Fund and contacted them. Soon after, an amazing network opened up to me of people who currently work with the San communities or have worked in the past, people who have done comprehensive research and written rich testimonies of their work and other papers, people who annually volunteer to work in local San schools. A world of gems! I contacted them and presented a plan for Palms for Life to coordinate a Participatory Rapid Assessment of ECD among San communities. This was very well received since such research has not been done in the last 5 years. A document was drafted jointly with folks at the Kalahari Peoples Fund and is now being presented to potential funders. We are all amazed by our combined capacities and dedication to do something that might impact the lives of thousands of poor children in Namibia. Many reports state that thousands of San children do not attend school in Namibia and for the few who do attend school they have severe dropout rates; San children remain marginalized with poor life opportunities. If we are successful and can push for a new attempt to develop a sensible, participatory, community-based, differentiated, culturally-friendly ECD plan for the San children in Namibia, using local languages and framed within the local culture, then we will have given back to these people and their children the right to be part of the future of their nation. And for that matter, for humanity because of what the San people represent: the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa.

President of Namibia, Hage Geingob: What is even more encouraging for us to pursue this new program is reading about the current President of Namibia. What a special person and a fantastic ally to support our ECD proposal with the San communities. From Wikipedia I read that “Hage Geingob received his Ph.D. from the University of Leeds. His thesis was entitled “State Formation in Namibia: Promoting Democracy and Good Governance”. In his thesis, he examined significant events in the process of state formation in Namibia and provided an insight into the role played by various actors involved in shaping the evolution of Namibia as a state. He also examined the efforts of Namibians to build a reconciled society out of ethnically and racially stratified, diverse and often antagonistic groups, to promote democracy and a policy of reconciliation, to improve the life condition of the previously disadvantaged groups through affirmative action, to encourage good governance, to promote a culture of human rights, and to build state institutions to support these policies. Finally, he carried out a democratic audit of Namibia.”

Hannah Laufer-Rottman

“All children of the world are little Princesses and Princes. They deserve to start life on an equal foot, to grow with joy and dignity. And this is everyone’s business.”

(1)  San are among the five populations with the highest measured levels of genetic diversity among 121 distinct African populations (Wikipedia)




Micro-Project | Reconstruction post Earthquake

Simpani Gairigaun Lift Water Supply for Drinking and Economic Sustainability

nepalProject Cost: $41,778

A powerful earthquake hit Nepal on 25 April 2015: it killed nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000. It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake.

Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless with entire villages flattened across the country.

After the immediate humanitarian response, efforts are still being deployed to reconstruct villages and infrastructure and get life back to normal. At Palms for Life we have identified an opportunity to join such effort thanks to a partnership with the World Food Programme Alumni Network’s Nepal chapter. A micro-project has been designed to restore livelihood for the families of Gairigaun in Kewalpur. The community has lost most of its water source which contributed to the loss of its existing water system and the people’s means of livelihood.

The project seeks funds to purchase and install pipes, water storage tanks and electrical pumps in order to restore safe drinking water to the community and support the local economy.

Full project proposal here.