Founders and funders of the after-school education proamme HELP, Anna-Marie and Jan Kaars-Sijpesteijn, received the 2014 Inyathelo Philanthropy Award for Support in Education at a glittering event held in Cape Town last week. In a fitting tribute, their award was handed to to them by one of the children who has been through the HELP initiative, Bevan Solomon.
Anna-Marie and Jan established the Homework Enrichment Lifeskills Programme several years ago to assist pupils with, in particular, mathematics and English. They recently bought a property in Muizenberg, which they have named HELP House.
When the children are at HELP, they receive assistance with homework, but, says Anne-Marie "the most important thing is to gain their trust". She said many of the children who come to HELP, have no support at home and that "the level of our teachers is totally inadequate".
"Yet, with a little bit of love and encouragement, you see what they are capable of." Jan added: "We started HELP when we came across true raw diamonds and we were able to secure scholarships for those learners at good schools."
The non-profit organisation runs three different programmes throughout the year _ HELP which is 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 have also purchased a car to transport them to and from HELP House.
Twelve philanthropists were recognised at last week's Inyathelo Awards ceremony, among them two other Cape Town-based projects — the Adonis Musati Project based in Observatory received the award for Social Justice Philanthropy, and the DAD Fund, started by Lyndon Barends who grew up in Crossroads, received the award for philanthropy in education.
Inyathelo executive director Shelagh Gastrow said all the recipients had demonstrated initiative and leadership, using their personal funds 'in a strategic way to make a difference.
"Philanthropy is dependent on the interest, passion, commitment, generosity and foresight of individuals like those we have honoured.
"Our awards seek to inspire others to give by recognising the incredible role models among us."