A successful businessman and philanthropist who grew up in e impoverished community of Crossroads, was awarded the Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Education at a glittering event last week.
Lyndon Barends is the Group CEO of Primedia Sport, and was previously the CEO of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa. But at one stage of his life he was a young boy living with his mom in Crossroads.
When he and his family were evicted from their home, he moved to a boarding school in Kuils River where he finished his high school career.
"I remember coming out of school one day and all our furniture was outside. We were thrown out of the house. My mother couldn't afford it... and then I heard about a boarding school out in Kuils River".
Determined to finish school, he enrolled at Good Hope High School in Kuils River, offering to work to pay his school fees. And that's what he did. During the day, he attended classes. Afterward he cleaned the classrooms and then he stayed at the hostel.
The dean at the time, Daniel Arthur Douman, became his mentor. "He encouraged me, making sure I excelled. I remember one night, I wrote this note 'Dear DAD — Daniel .Arthur Dpuman — I find myself in a rather hungry spot. And I put it under his door and knocked and ran away." Mr Douman took some food to the young Mr Barends, and continued to be a "force of good" in the young man's life.
Many years later, a grown-up Mr Barends was preparing to make the trip to visit his mentor, when 'Mr Douman was tragically killed in a car accident on his way to the meeting. When Mr Barends started the DAD Fund to assist underprivileged pupils, it was in honour of the man who had assisted him — Daniel Arthur Douman.
Mr Barends shared his story with apt audience at the glittering Inyathelo Philanthropy awards ceremony held in Cape Town last week where he was presented with the Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Education. In a fitting tribute, the award was handed to Mr Barends by Nathan Douman, the son of Daniel Arthur Douman Mr Barends set up the DAD Fund 10 years ago to nurture young leaders and provide disadvantaged teenagers with the opportunities to rise above their circumstances through education and development programmes.
Mr Barends worked as a teacher before becoming involved in community development and later became a spokesperson for the World Health Organisation, campaigning for TB sufferers alongside Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
After being awarded a bursary to do an MBA in the UK, Mr Barends joined Standard Bank where he served as director, before joining the national Olympic Committee of South Africa and then Primedia Sport. The DAD fund has helped thousands of young people with bursaries, internships, mentorship, and skills and leadership training. It also supports the DreamGirls International Outreach and Mentoring Programme, which encourages young women to fulfill their potential, obtain a tertiary education and become independent, empowered and successful professionals
Twelve philanthropists were recognised at last week's ceremony, among them two other Cape Townbased projects — the Adonis Musati Project based in Observatory received the award for Social Justice Philanthropy, and the Homework Enrichment Lifeskills Programme (HELP), in Muizenberg, for support in education.
Inyathelo executive director Shelagh Gastrow said all of 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."