Armed only with a sense of concern, responsibility, compassion and drive, 12 extraordinary individuals are making a huge impact on the lives of others.
Each of them was honoured for his or her selflessness at the Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards, which took place at the Zip Zap Circus School in Cape Town. The school also provided entertainment for the night. Inyathelo is a non-profit organisation that seeks to strengthen civil society as a key component of South Africa's democracy by developing a philanthropic movement to support both civil society and the country's institutions.
Zip Zap uses circus arts to assist young people who are at risk. It gives them access to opportunities and skills that will help them to grow into young leaders and ambassadors for South Africa.
Speaking at the awards ceremony in the circus dome, Inyathelo executive director Shelagh Gastrow said: "Philanthropy is dependent on the interest, passion, commitment, generosity and foresight of individuals like those we have honoured tonight. Our awards seek to inspire others to give by recognising the incredible role models among us.
"Individual giving can be the largest source of donor money in South Africa and philanthropists play a critical role in effecting real systemic change as they are able to support more innovative and often unconventional solutions to our numerous social, environmental and economic problems."
Held on 6 November, it was the eighth outing of the annual awards. So far, 80 individuals have been recognised for their personal giving that has contributed to sustainable social change in South Africa. They include: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; nine-year-old rhino campaigner Afeefah Patel; the Ackerman family; Founder of Hope Warriors Children's Charity Patrick Mashanda; former vice-chancellor of Rhodes University Dr Saleem Badat; and Alice Wamundiya, a former car guard from Rwanda who established an organisation to provide tertiary education for refugees.
RECOGNITION IN 2014
This year, the award winners were:
- Founding directors of the Adonis Musati Project for refugees, Gayle McWalter and Gahlia Brogneri: 2014 Inyathelo Award for Social Justice Philanthropy;
- Founder of the Chess Development Project, Jabulani Ncubuka: Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Youth Development;
- Founding patron of The Ampersand Foundation, Jack Ginsberg: Award for Philanthropy in the Arts;
- Co-founder of the Spread Luv Movement, Kgomotso Mokoena: Youth in Philanthropy;
- Founder and president of the DAD Fund to nurture young leaders, Lyndon Barends: Philanthropy in Education;
- Founder and director of Hlumelelisa for convicted offenders, Paul Bruns: Philanthropy in Rehabilitation and Job Creation;
- Youth activist and founder of Vanthswa Va Xivono, Samuel Ntsanwisi: Philanthropy in Youth Development;
- Mohamed Fayaz Khan: Philanthropy in Child Welfare;
- Founders and funders of the HELP after-school education programme, Anna-Marie and Jan Kaars-Sijpesteijn: Philanthropy Award for Support in Education; and,
- Founding chairman of The Atlantic Philanthropies, Charles Feeney: 2014 Inyathelo Lifetime Philanthropy Award for Giving While Living.
Gastrow said the recognition of Feeney and The Atlantic Philanthropies was important. "Atlantic has served as a key partner for education, health and human rights organisations in our country. Led by the late Gerald Kraak, Atlantic's giving in South Africa was strategic and impactful, creating a community of individuals and organisations committed to democracy. The closure of Atlantic's activity here is a challenge to local philanthropy to step into the breach and to move away from working within a charitable paradigm towards targeting initiatives that bring about systemic change."
THE ATLANTIC PHILANTHROPIES
Charles "Chuck" Feeney was born during the Great Depression in the US to working class Irish parents. He started his entrepreneurial endeavours at an early age by selling Christmas cards door-to-door and teaming up with a friend to shovel pavements during snowstorms.
After high school he enlisted in the army and once he completed his service, he took advantage of the GI Bill, a government-funded education benefit for veterans, to attend Cornell University, becoming the first member of his family to go to college.
According to Inyathelo, Feeney believes that people who have been fortunate to amass great wealth should use their wealth for a greater good. In 1982, he established The Atlantic Philanthropies, which has made grants totalling more than $6.5-billion (R71.3-billion), focused on promoting education, health, peace, reconciliation and human dignity.
SPREAD LUV MOVEMENT
The Spread Luv Movement is the result of a group of eight successful friends who wanted to use their experience and knowledge to inspire disadvantaged young people, and help put them on the path to success.
According to Inyathelo, Mokoena, an attorney specialising in labour and media law, placed her personal resources at the disposal of this project. Together with her professional colleagues and friends, she has provided career guidance and advice to hundreds of high school pupils at more than 45 under-resourced schools in and around Johannesburg over the past four years.
Mokoena said: "Me and my friends, others whom we go back as far as high school, counted our blessings and thought how we could give back. It still surprises us every day how we started an NGO."
The movement also helps pupils apply for bursaries and many of the youngsters it has mentored have gone on to excel in their tertiary studies.