Marion Marillier goes extra mile for moms and kids
East London resident’s NPO works to provide basic needs and develop skills for the needy
Two years ago East London resident Marion Marillier took the bold step to quit her corporate job and pursue a cause close to her heart: to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate children.
Marillier worked as a corporate social project official in the banking sector where she worked with different children’s homes.
“It was during my employ in this position that I learnt the ways of the development space and particularly came to understand the development climate in East London.
“My love and passion for the upliftment of the needy led me to pursue a formal qualification, majoring in development studies.”
This allowed her to create, implement and now statistically monitor an early childhood development (ECD) plan, which is being run at a primary school in Nompumelelo township in East London’s Beacon Bay.
The plan is geared specifically towards the development of children in the foundation phase of schooling.
Marillier said: “The plan has been written in such a way that we are able to assist children in receiving preventive, as well as rehabilitative, assistance during the most crucial stage of their lives.
“The overall idea is to have this same ECD model implemented and used in all the underdeveloped schools in East London and even across SA.”
The development programme that Marillier initiated expanded to an NPO, Mom to Many Development, which aims to assist destitute mothers and children suffering from hardship.
She said: “When I finally decided to leave corporate in 2019, I knew that the social development space was where I would be full-time, as I love helping people.
“Of all the work I’ve done in my life, I can truly say that this has been one of the most fulfilling.”
In the organisation they assist mothers and children, by filling in the gaps to meet their basic needs.
“The provision and assistance with their basic needs is however not our primary goal.
“Our main aim is to provide under privileged moms with the opportunity to develop the skills they need to become economically independent and contributing members of society,” she said.
Marillier highlighted the basic needs a mother needs, such as nutritional supplementation for children in the foundation phase of schooling.
“The plan also includes the provision of trauma counselling for children who have experienced trauma from birth to the age of six years.
“We aim to supply women with the skills as well as the tools, in the form of a basic starter pack, for their chosen business field.
“The skills programme will run for 12 up to 24 weeks, this depends on the individual assessment of the ladies who come in,” she said.
Sourced from her personal finances, Marillier also runs a weekly soup kitchen where she feeds about 300 children on Tuesday mornings in the Nompumelelo area.
“I have been very fortunate at times to receive sponsorships from generous individuals in my community and also from companies in East London; one such organisation is a sister NPO in East London, Guardians of Hope, run by Elaine Brenkman.”
Their nutritional plan makes provision for children up to age of eight years.
However, if needs be, they also assist children up to age 13 who attend school.
“Nothing gives me more joy than seeing the children we feed smiling and chatting away as we feed them.
“The extent of trauma and suffering experienced by the less fortunate right here, can only be believed once seen.
“I also believe when people have what they need, we can all be happy. The ripple effect of helping a woman is that there will be a natural reduction in all the other social problems we face, such as substance abuse, GBV and the like,” Marillier said.
Megan Smith, who nominated Marillier as a local hero, describes her as someone who is passionate about what she does, and who works her level best to see others succeed beyond their current situation in life.
“Her work has been recognised and commended by the teachers and children, as well as by people in the wider community of Nompumelelo, as this is where she now does the bulk of her development work,” Smith said.
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