We call him the „Prof“. That’s our boss at the NGO „RuLiv“. Today we have discussed the „Scope of Work“ of our assignment which is basically to agree the objectives and tasks of what we are doing during our time here in October. During this interlock session The Prof spoke passionately about his vision and his strategy for his company. His interest is to learn from us all about the „corporate approach“. He said his company knows all about the NGO approaches, what he needs is the „corporate approach“. In the past the people in the rural livelihoods have been supported and taught how to successfully plant and harvest but they might not have been able to sell what they have harvested. So in the future he would like to teach the rural people how they can plant, harvest AND successfully go to market, to make money and to make sustainable changes.
In the afternoon we had a braai together with our NGO colleagues. A time to socialize, build up relationships and to learn each other and to enjoy ourselves together. It’s been a lot of laughter and a beautiful conclusion of the first work week at RuLiv.
This is a day I will probably never forget. We’ve been at the Isiah orphanage. The orphanage hosts about 130 kids. They have hardly enough money to pay for the power and the water. We brought them a lot of presents and some money which they were very happy about. However the biggest present was made to ourselves. We’ve been given the happiness of the children regardless of all the bad circumstances that they went through. We’ve been given the friendliness, the open minds, the talents, the spirit, the wit, the ambitions, the intelligence, the warmth, the humanness, the gratefulness, the love for music and dance … all of this were gifts that those children have given to us.
South Africa is alive, it lives in the many hearts of those who believe in a better future, who believe in themselves, who belive that the best that they can bring in is themselves as they are.
You have to see the pictures and the film clips online.
Siyabonga — an agent that one of our teams work with — brought us to the second biggest township (Mdantsane) in South Africa. The township Mdantsane is called „the boxing township“. An old and rather provisionally looking sports building has attracted a crowed of young children for a weekly boxing competition. Normally white men will not be in this township and they will also not normally appear on this boxing competition. But today we had the opportunity to watch them and be with them. Before we left we handed over some presents. My colleague from Japan has made a greatly inspiring speech to the boxing children. He said with boxing it is important to know yourselves. If you know your strengths you will be successful. He ended the speech with the wish that next time around all boxer champions shall come from the township Mdantsane.
Today I have learned two things.
1st: Probably to be appreciative to what we have can be learned better in no other place as in the townships of South Africa.
2nd: the key to success is not a matter of being rich or poor it is a matter of whether you believe in yourself. And it is a matter of whether you are ready to bring in yourself with your skills and with what you are.
Siyabonga means to be grateful… and that’s what I feel about this wonderful day at the children home. … they have given us so much that is way beyond materialistic things.
On the way back home Siyabonga told me that he has grown up in Mdantsane and that he is still living in the township. He’s been able to grow out of the poverty, he has studied and he has got a good job as an IT Manager with the tourism center. Now he would like to bring something back to the township. It’s not the materialistic things that he wants to give back, it’s his skills, it’s his experiences, it’s his time and dedication to the children at the boxing club. They then will be able to grow and they then will be able to help yet others to grow. … What a great concept.
He wanted to know all about the IBM Corporate Social Responsibility programme and after I gave him a brief explanation. He said that this is exactly what they need. They don’t need so much the money as they need the skills. Education is lacking and skills transfer will be the only way to bring in sustainable improvements.