Fisticuffs in Parliament, Number One not responsible for the upgrades to his private home at Nkandla, a dodgy nuclear energy tender. While our politicians provide sensational headlines, ordinary South Africans get on with the business of rebuilding and healing the country out of the public eye. MARIANNE THAMM found much to celebrate at the recent Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards.
Returning home from school one afternoon, the young Lynton Barends found the contents of the Crossroads shack he shared with his mother piled up on the street. The family had been evicted. With nowhere to live, Barends was determined to continue his education and “emancipate myself” and offered, in exchange for an education, to clean the classrooms and buildings of a boarding school he located in nearby in Kuilsriver.
It was the principle of this school, the late Daniel Arthur Doman, who became a surrogate father to the determined young Barends. Barends, who began his career as a teacher, was later awarded a bursary to complete an MBA in the UK and today is the group CO of Primedia Sport.
In 2003 Barends started the DAD fund in honour of his mentor and which has subsequently assisted thousands of young South Africans with bursaries, internships, mentorships and skills and leadership training. This month Barends, along with 11 other extraordinary South Africans, was the recipient of one of several 2014 Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards awarded at a heartwarming and inspiring ceremony in Cape Town.
There is an erroneous assumption that philanthropy and acts of financial and personal kindness, concern and action are the preserve of the rich and the advantaged. What the Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards have highlighted, since their establishment in 2007, is that ordinary people, often armed only with a sense of concern, responsibility, compassion and drive, are able to make a huge impact on the lives of others.
Peers, communities and the non-profit oranisations these individuals serve and support, nominate philanthropists who are in turn acknowledged by Inyathelo for their work. A panel of judges chooses those nominated and awards are made in various categories, namely Arts, Youth, Health, Family, Education.
The recipients of this year’s award for Social Justice were founding directors of the Adonis Musati Project for refugees, Gayle McWalter and Gahlia Brogneri, two friends who were appalled at the death of the project’s namesake, Musati, from hunger, while waiting in the queue at a Home Affairs office on the Foreshore.
What began as an attempt to provide meals for other refugees subsequently blossomed into a full-scale operation that offers support to the thousands of vulnerable people who flood into Cape Town. The Adonis Musati Project now provides meals, blankets, clothing and toiletries for refugees, as well as finding emergency shelter and facilitating further education and employment. The project now has a Director, paid staff and offices in Observatory.
In 1984 Jabulani Ncubuka was 15 years old and was such an ace at chess he found himself representing the Free State in a championship during a time it was rare for a black South African to do so. At 17 Ncubaka represented South Africa in Israel, and in 1999 he started his Chess Development Project to encourage young people to use critical thinking and to provide a space away from some of the more unsavoury aspects of life in impoverished areas.
Chess, says Ncubaka, while it certainly can be enjoyed as a hobby, can also help to facilitate critical and logical thinking and assist children in understanding maths and science.
Today Ncubaka is the Chess Development Project’s Volunteer Director and trains trainers and teachers who run the programme in schools in Mpumalanga, Free State and Limpopo, equipping them with tools, manuals, workbooks and skills to be able to teach chess in a fun, creative, effective way. Besides personally funding some of the running costs of the project, Ncubaka also organises funding for local chess players to take part in national and international competitions, including the Commonwealth and South Africa Open Chess Championships.
Ncubuka received the 2014 Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Youth Development.
Over 130 South African artists have benefited from accountant Jack Ginsberg’s The Ampersand Foundation in the past 18 years, which enables artists to take up two-month residencies in New York, where they are exposed to and can experience the work of international contemporaries.
Ginsberg, a passionate supporter of the arts and a collector of art books, has built up the most formidable collection over 45 years and intends to donate this to WITS. More recently, Ginsberg assisted with the funding and fundraising for the new Wits Art Museum after it was forced to vacate its original premises, leaving the art works languishing in a basement. He continues to support the museum by purchasing and donating works of art for their collection.
Ginsberg also helps fund the Artist Proof Studio a printmaking centre in Newtown, Johannesburg. He was the recipient of the 2014 Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in the Arts.
Kgomotso Mokoena is an attorney who specialises in labour and media law and, along with seven other successful friends, started the Spread the Luv Movement to inspire disadvantaged children to dream big and think further with regard to their education and careers.
With her colleagues, Mokoena has provided career guidance and advice to hundreds of high school learners at more than 45 under-resourced schools in and around Johannesburg. Over the past four years the team has facilitated workshops for students in grades eight to 12, sharing their own experiences as well as useful information and advice on where and what to study, and how to build a successful career.
Apart from the workshops, the Spread the Luv members provide ongoing support through face-to-face meetings, emails and social networks with learners helping them to apply for bursaries. Many of those who have encountered Mokoena’s organisation have gone on to complete their tertiary studies. Mokoena was the recipient of the 2014 Inyathelo Award for Youth in Philanthropy.
In 2003, Paul Bruns gave up a successful marketing career to set up the Hlumelelisa project, aimed at rehabilitating convicted offenders and offering these men and women the opportunity to learn practical horticultural skills they could use on release. Bruns’ NPO began work at the Leeuwkop Correctional Facility ten years ago, and over 200 prisoners have received training. Five of Hlumelelisa’s current facilitators are previous participants of the nine-month training programme that awards a recognised horticultural qualification. One former offender has started his own nursery and a landscaper employs six other previous students. The project also runs a learnership in Alexandra township outside Johannesburg.
Bruns received the 2014 Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Rehabilitation and Job Creation.
The remarkable, soft-spoken 28-year-old Samuel Ntsanwisi hails from Nkowa-Nkowa township in Limpopo and while he enjoyed a privileged upbringing, says he could not live without attempting to alleviate the many issues that plague communities that surround him.
In 2011 Ntsanwisi made headlines when he undertook a 1,850km run from Cape Town to Nkowa-Nkowa to raise funds and awareness for abused women and children in his region. Aged 18, Ntsanwisi wanted to start a band but soon became aware of the challenges of many young people in the region. What began as an informal attempt at creating opportunities soon blossomed into a more formal organisation, Vantshswa Va Xivone, that translates as ‘youth with a vision’.
Ntsanwisi, who studied filmmaking, ploughs the proceeds from his own film company into the organisation. He currently works as the Director of Bjatladi Youth Development and hopes to establish his own youth centre soon. He also works closely with the South African Police Service’s Victim Empowerment Unit, guiding youth to make the right choices. Over and above this, he works weekly with a group of 30 disadvantaged and orphaned youth in the Nkowa-Nkowa township, helping them with any personal or school-related problems they might have.
Ntsanwisi received the 2014 Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Youth Development.
An engineer by profession and an employee of Eskom, Mohamed Fayaz Khan has made regular donations to various organisations including Child Welfare and the Edith Benson Babies Home contributing to their sustainability in the vital work these organisations accomplish. Khan is not donates funds but also volunteers his time, fundraising and mentoring the staff and children at the organisations he supports. He is President of the Board of Governors of Child Welfare Durban and District and has raised a substantial amount of funds and in-kind donations for the children. Mohamed also writes regular articles and blogs to raise awareness of issues relating to orphans and vulnerable children.
Muizenberg couple Anna-Marie and Jan Kaars Sijpesteijn, received the 2014 Inyathelo Philanthropy Award for Support in Education for their establishment of the HELP (Homework Enrichment Life Skills Programme) which assists children from four disadvantaged communities close to their home in Muizenberg, Cape Town.
HELP, a non-profit organization, runs three programmes throughout the year – HELP, a the daily after-school programme; AMV Club (Ambition, Motivation and Vision Club) which runs on Saturday mornings, and Holiday Club, which is held during the July and September holidays.
Anna-Marie and Jan recently bought a property and named it HELP House. Jan personally undertook the extensive renovations needed to make it suitable for the children. The couple also subsidise all extra lessons needed by the children and have purchased a car to transport them to and from HELP House.
The 2014 Inyathelo Lifetime Philanthropy Award for Giving While Living was awarded to Founding Chairman of The Atlantic Philanthropies, Charles Feeney, for his multi-million Rand contribution to promoting social justice, better healthcare and human rights in South Africa in the past 20 years.
“Chuck” Feeney, as he is known, is considered to be one of the world’s most inspiring philanthropists. Born during the Great Depression, Feany went on to become, through his business of selling Duty Free goods, one of the wealthiest men in the US.
According to Inyathelo, “Feeney believes fervently that people who have been fortunate to amass great wealth should use their wealth for the greater good. In 1982, he established The Atlantic Philanthropies, which have made grants totalling more than $6.5 billion (R71.3 billion) - focused on promoting education, health, peace, reconciliation and human dignity. In addition to South Africa, the foundation has operated in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the United States and Vietnam. Chuck Feeney quietly transferred virtually all of his assets to The Atlantic Philanthropies in the late 1980s; for the first half of Atlantic’s history, its grantmaking was done anonymously.”
The philanthropist’s interest in South Africa was piqued after a meeting with former African National Congress General Secretary Cyril Ramaphosa, “who drew parallels between the peace process in Northern Ireland, in which he and Atlantic had invested, and his involvement in bringing Apartheid to a peaceful end in South Africa.”
Afterwards Atlantic began funding or investing in local efforts that sought to seek justice, the promotion of better health care and the delivery of services that would help transform the country as well as foster human rights and dignity in South Africa.
Feeney’s matching grant for the Life Sciences Building at the University of Western Cape ended a 15-year moratorium in university investment from the government and transformed university infrastructure in the country by successfully leveraging investments of almost R7 billion from government.
Many of the world’s leading philanthropists, including Bill Gates, have been inspired by Feeney’s philosophy of “Giving While Living” and it has resulted in the “Giving Pledge”, a commitment by many of the world’s wealthiest people to gift the bulk of their wealth to philanthropy.
Addressing the considerable crowd gathered in the Zip Zap Circus tent on the Foreshore in Cape Town, Inyathelo Executive director, Sheila Gastrow, told those gathered that what distinguished philanthropy from Corporate Social Investment Programmes and government funding “is that philanthropy can take risks, it can back innovative ideas, research and projects that are emerging from the edge that defy the mainstream and which could be paradigms for the future. Philanthropic money is personal, it doesn’t have to account to voters and shareholders.”
She congratulated Patrice Motsepe’s recent $1 million donation to fight Ebola in Guinea, saying this was the largest donation on record by an African individual to fight Ebola.
“And in a way it has thrown down the gauntlet to other Africans to say ‘this is a major problem for the continent; let’s do something about it and stop waiting for others to do it for us’.”
Gastrow also highlighted the recent gift to WITS of R100 million by an anonymous donor, ten percent of which will go towards the WITS art museum, with the remainder to be used for the advancement of teaching as required by the university. The Oppenheimer family had also, said Gastrow, topped up the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust with R1 million which doubled the size of the trust.
“Philanthropy fits in the current context from a wide perspective. Philanthropy is a major light in this space and one of the key drivers to ensure that our democracy drives and survives,” she said.