Angels Care Centre, Thembelihle School, DNA Project
What does your company do?
I am the Chairperson of two non profit organizations in Howick, KZN. The first is Angel’s Care Centre which has a mandate to uniquely focus on caring for children living in extreme poverty in local informal settlements. The Centre has a preschool for 75 children, a bridging class for 10 children who have never had access to schooling, a youth development programme which caters for learners from local primary and high schools where they obtain vital assistance with their studies and also learn numerous life skills, along with the opportunity to partake in an active sporting programme. Weekly the Centre feeds approximately 500 children, the meals provided are for many the only they will receive in a day. In 2015, I started a crisis centre for child victims of gender based violence. The need for this facility arose out of the sexual offences committed against women and particularly children, which are reaching alarming proportions in our community and Nationally. The sexual abuse and violence that takes place in these informal settlements has been prolific for years. Immersed in these statistics are untold stories of thousands of women and children who have been abused. Most cases are not reported and the victims are left scared and helpless. Many of the challenges that are faced, are cases of child abuse that go unreported, and the children and their caregivers never receive any help. The Centre provides these children and their caregivers every form of assistance and counselling they require whether they are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, neglect, physical abuse or trauma. The centre provides overnight shelter facilities, clothing for children, spiritual and emotional support groups.
Thembelihle School provides a holistic and multicultural education, ensuring a safe environment for all children from grade RRR - grade 7. It allows each child to reach their full potential, and partners with families for care. It brings hope and education to disadvantaged communities through providing education modelled on Christian values. The school provides and ensures a safe environment to learn and grow academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. Thembelihle allows each child to reach their full potential and partners with families in caring for the needs of the whole child beyond the classroom. The children all come from poverty stricken households and communities. Many are orphans, or child-headed households or are living with HIV or AIDS. These children reside with grand parents or relatives and survive on minimal state pensions. Many of them are innocent victims of extreme circumstance including sexual abuse, gender based violence, broken families, illness and malnutrition. The School through its sponsorship programme, extraordinary facilities and staff, along with its focus on essential subject areas of Science, Technology, English, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) ensures we are able to provide world class schooling, at no cost to children, who otherwise would never have an opportunity to receive a quality education - the gateway to a successful future.
What is your biggest success?
Utilising my PhD in Genetics and my extensive teaching experience at the University of KZN, to practically and constructively address key societal issues faced by all citizens, particularly women and children. Over a 10-year period, The DNA Project provided me with the platform to help bring about National legislative change allowing for proper use of DNA and a DNA Database in crime resolution. In recognition of my contribution to the country through the constructive use of biotechnology, I was officially recognised by the Minister of Science and Technology in an awards ceremony and book entitled “Blazing a Biotechnology trial”. I then practically implemented my passion and knowledge to start a comprehensive rape crisis centre at Angels Care Centre that provides children and their caregivers every form of assistance and counselling they require whether they are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, neglect, physical abuse or trauma.
What has been your biggest hurdle?
Fundraising is my largest personal hurdle, whilst I have hover been extremely fortunate in being able to attract local and international funding to support Thembelihle School and Angels Care Centre. This funding has allowed the development of excellent facilities with extremely well qualified and dedicated staff to offer quality education and help to children most in need. In addition, has been the challenge of reaching a level of understanding of the actual needs of the community and to tailor our services to best impact their needs in a positive manner. I have always believed that poor people should not receive “poor solutions” and in the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it is done”. I have been told too many times to remember that my aspirations and dreams are impossible and I am naively optimistic – it is truly gratifying to indeed make the apparently impossible – possible!