Founder and Director of Hlumelelisa, Paul Bruns, is the recipient of the 2014 Inyathelo Award for Philanthropy in Rehabilitation and Job Creation.
Paul was working as a successful marketing executive when he decided to give up his career for what many saw as a lost cause – rehabilitating convicted offenders. He established Hlumelelisa in 2003 with a view to equipping sentenced individuals, parolees and other people at risk with practical horticultural skills so that they could take care of themselves, make a positive contribution to their community and help create a greener, safer and more beautiful South Africa.
Paul believes that through Hlumelelisa - an Nguni word meaning “a new spirit” or more literally, to heal from a broken bone - he is able to assist offenders regain their humanity, hope and self-respect. The non-profit organisation has been working in Leeuwkop Correctional Facility for the past ten years and has trained over 200 prisoners. Five of their current facilitators are previous participants of the nine-month training programme that gives participants a recognised horticultural qualification. Another former offender has started his own nursery and six other previous students are employed by a landscaper.
Hlumelelisa also runs a learnership in Alexandra township outside Johannesburg. Paul believes that by taking responsibility for living plants, they learn about taking responsibility for themselves, their environment and their future. The vegetables they grow are used to feed the children at nearby crèches as well as the youngsters who attend the Thusong Community Youth Centre.