Inyathelo in the Headlines

Awards pay tribute to South African philanthropic spirit - 11 November 2014 - Cape Argus

Ilse Fredericks

A Newspaper article on the death of a Zimbabwean man who died of starvation in the city while queuing for asylum papers spurred two teachers into action and led to several initiatives to help asylum seekers and refugees.

Gayle McWalter from Bergvliet didn't know Gahlia Brogneri from Claremont when they read about Adonis Musati's death, but they soon met when they and other women started giving food to people queueing at the refugee reception centre, which was previously on the Foreshore.

"I was shocked this could be happening right under our noses in Cape Town. There were no toilets and no water. People were too afraid to leave the queue," McWalter said.

The Adonis Musati project was born and soon expanded, providing, among other things, blankets, toiletries and other essentials, help with CVs and transport to hospital. A peer support programme for refugees and asylum seekers was later started.

Last week the two friends were honoured with the 2014 Inyathelo Award for Social Justice Philanthropy. The awards were started by Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement to acknowledge those whose personal giving had contributed towards sustainable social change in the country.

Brogneri said many people had contributed to the project.

The founders of another Cape Town project, Homework Enrichment Life Skills Programme (HELP), were the winners in the category for support in education. Anna-Marie and Jan Kaars-Sijpesteijn are the founders of the daily after-school programme which helps children in Muizenberg, Heathfield and Retreat with homework, reading and other skills, and provides a meal. Anna-Marie said the programme also aimed to build children's self-confidence and nurture self-respect.

The founder of the DAD fund, Lyndon Barends, won the education category. Named after Barends's mentor, Daniel Arthur Douman, the fund has helped thousands of young people with bursaries, internships, mentorship, and skills and leadership training. It supports the DreamGirls International Outreach and Mentoring Programme which encourages young women to get a tertiary education and become independent, empowered and successful.

Barends, who used to live in a shack, received a bursary to do an MBA in the UK, was a director at Standard Bank and is the group chief executive of Primedia Sport, was "extremely humbled" by the award.