Our Story

At Thula Baba Project we believe that mothers are the key to improving lives for all. Mothers are the first nurturers and the first educators – which is why our program is developed around equipping them with the knowledge and tools they need.

Thula Baba Project is based in Cape Town, South Africa and takes inspiration from the Finnish Baby Box, a maternal package given to all new mothers by Finland’s Social Security. Research into the phenomenal success of the Finnish Baby Boxes in reducing infant mortality, indicates that the process of registration at maternity clinics and increased medical care, along with maternal education has the greatest impact. 

The Thula Baba Project team realised that to achieve similar success in improving the outcomes for baby health and development in our city, the incentive needed to be linked with maternal education.

We drive our intention by focusing on the four building blocks known to result in better outcomes for babies: attachment and bonding, good nutrition, health and safety and early childhood development. We believe these are key to developing confident children, who are able to learn new things more easily, and who grow up into caring adults with the confidence to take on leadership roles.

The Thula Baba Project main focus is a project called “Equipping Mothers”. We provide comprehensive packs that act as incentives and reward attendance to free antenatal and child care courses hosted by our partners.

The award is a gift of clothes, nappies, baby care toiletries and mother care items packed into a bucket.

The classes educate the moms about what to expect, the importance of breast feeding, sets them up in a support group and helps educate the moms around how to stimulate their children with household items. Antenatal and child care classes are run each term in clinics from Hout Bay to Khayelitsha. The items in the buckets are complementary to the content of the free courses given by partners.

In 2020 we started a second project called “Dressing Babies” in response to pleas from midwives during the first hard lockdown. We put together emergency packs to help moms at various maternity units as we know the first few hours a mom has with a new baby are a key for attachment and moms need to feel supported. This project has grown to include Mowbray Maternity Hospital and Gugulethu, Retreat and Groote Schuur maternity units. We also provide emergency packs via clinics for older children.

We are fortunate to have partnered with many organisations that share our values, which has enabled us to add real value to our beneficiaries.

With this holistic approach to child care we address the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals for a better and more sustainable future for all. We align with the following goals: 01 – No Poverty, 03 – Good Health and 04 – Quality Education.

Our Team

The Thula Baba Project Board members are Katy Caldis, Caroline Isted, Chryse Vlissides and Trixy Lochner, assisted by operations manager, Wendy Purdon, admin assistant, Shivann Vinton and volunteer Jacque Banda.

Our Board Chairman Katy Caldis is the Divisional Director of Health Product and Marketing at Liberty Health. Katy is also mother to three children. Her experience as a healthcare executive brings a strong strategic outlook and governance to our Board. Katy has a keen interest in holistic wellness and is always on the lookout for simple solutions to the health challenges in Africa. In her free time, Katy can be found in her permaculture garden.

Caroline is a program manager with a love of the outdoors and adventure. Having spent many years working on projects for Shell, she brings her skills of team and program management. It is Caroline’s interest in systems and change management that drives the Thula Baba Project towards an intervention that starts with motherhood and results in societal impact. Caroline is our founding Director, having taken the lead in 2017.

Chrysse Vlissides has recently joined the board as Treasurer and brings extensive experience in her family business, corporate work and her own business. She has been involved in client services, HR, financial services and project management. With one school going daughter, she likes to spend her free time reading and pursuing creative avenues with a keen interest in ceramics.

Trixy is currently serving as board secretary. She was drawn to this project because of her interest in the impact of early nurturing on literacy and brings her logistics and buying experience to the team. Trixy is married and has two grown-up children. Her hobbies include doing short courses, reading and sewing.

Wendy Purdon responded to a request for assistance during the hard lockdown in March 2020 and brought her daughter and niece along to keep them busy and included in something worthwhile. It wasn’t long before she became immersed and now runs operations and social media. She is an asset to the team with her background in corporate marketing. She is mum to three children and three furkids.

Shivann Vinton has joined the team to manage packing, stock control and administration.

Jacqueline Banda assists in the operation, helping out with sorting and packing as needed.

The Thula Baba Project was registered with the Department of Social Development as: NPO 205-933 Thula Baba Project in March 2018, and received Section 18a certification PBO: 930063992 in January 2019.

Willing to donate?

The Team envisages the Thula Baba Project as one that will eventually make a difference not just to individual children and families, but to whole communities.