Tag Archives: South Africa

NextAid : Making A Difference in the lives of African children

18 Dec

On my recent trip to Africa I had the chance to visit my friend Lauren Segal’s www.NextAid.org Foundation project in Dennilton, South Africa.  This earth friendly sustainable village  serves as a beacon of hope in a community that has been devastated by AIDS. The village is place where resources are concentrated, where aid is efficiently distributed, where environmental education is emphasized, and where  youth reach their individual and collective potential.

NextAid is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization committed to developing and implementing innovative solutions to the challenges facing African children.

NextAid’s mission is to promote community-driven, environmentally sustainable, economically and socially empowering responses to the AIDS orphan pandemic.

NextAid collaborates with individuals, businesses and nonprofits to produce creative, culturally-rich, awareness-raising projects and music events involving technology, the arts, public education projects,and volunteer opportunities.

If you are ever looking for a project to get involved with I can guarantee your experience with Next Aid will be life changing!!  Call Lauren & let’s keep making the world a better place!!

Lunch with 200 children in Dennilton, South Africa

Lunch with 200 children in Dennilton, South Africa

The Long Journey to Africa

21 Nov

While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument of our hardship and suffering.  We would want it to be a symbol for the triumph of the human spirit against the forcers of evil : a triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small mindness and pettiness : a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness,” are the words of Ahmed Kathrada Prisoner 468 64.

I am on day 6 of my amazing journey through South Africa.  From the beautiful Table Mountain of Cape Town to the small HIV/AIDS orphanage in the Mfulleni Township where  “Mama”  Amelia takes care of 150 orphans to the prison cell of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island I am feeling the core of South Africa — the definite “courage & determination over human frailty & weakness”.

There is so much to say about the state of South Africa in terms of philanthropic need.  Africa is the epicenter of crisis, with continuing food insecurity, a rise of extreme poverty (this is poverty that kills), stunningly high child and maternal mortality, and a large number of people living in slums.  The need is great & thus the focus of the Interface Foundation on high impact public charities achieving the Millennium Development Goals is crucial.

Last night the owners of the Fifth Avenue Beach House  where I am staying here in Port Elizabeth shared with me the story of one of their personal heroes, Bishop Paul Verryn of the South African Methodist Church.  This is a man who works tirelessly with volunteers and staff to feed and shelter over 1600 homeless refugees at Johannesburg’s Central Methodist Mission.  After giving me Bishop Verryn’s background he actually arrived at the Beach House from Johannesburg.  

Ray Buchanan (a personal hero of mine & the founder of Stop Hunger Now, the reason I am in South Africa)  and I get to hear from Paul that there is an endless line of people waiting each day outside his office, five or more are always from Zimbabwe.   This has been going on for the last 4 years.

Women and children sleep in the sanctuary of the church every night, while homeless men wrap themselves in blankets and sleep head-to-toe like sardines in the meeting rooms above. Conditions for 200 people in a church building not meant for housing are a nightmare, Paul said, but a far sight better than living rough on the inner-city streets.

Some of the women appealing for help are refugees in the truest sense of the word. “Just recently we had a small family of a child, a mother and a father who came down. They had been to an MDC (a political party) rally, leaving their seven-year-old at home. He had been beaten up and was crying outside the house. They decided to move. I won’t tell you of the rest of her story because it is too horrendous for words, but they certainly left Zimbabwe in great fear of their lives.”

Young girls harassed to join the youth militia are also appearing more frequently at his office.

Although the outside world may think that what is happening at Central Methodist is commendable, Paul kept saying he finds himself “very ambivalent about the quality of what we are able to do here and would want it to be very different.”

“Some of the people we have in the building are extraordinary people: accountants, school teachers, qualified nurses, a doctor. Some are very ingenuous in the way they are making jobs and little projects trying to begin. So, sometimes just a little seed money for somebody to go and start a small business would make all the difference. We have wire artists, people who are making fly fishing lures. We have ballroom dancing, a drama group, all sorts of enterprises. Our goal is to try to enable people to take responsibility for their lives; to reduce dependency is a critical priority.”

Paul’s prayer is for a politically sustainable solution for the Zimbabwean crisis. 

As an American I had no idea what the Zimbabwean crisis even was and in the simplest of ways he describes it as a genocide in the making.
As Paul put it simply, “This is a God Moment.  It’s an opportunity for us to open our hands and knuckle down and be what we say we are.”

I have so much to learn, so much to do, and so much awareness to raise for the “Bishop Paul Verryn’s”  of the world!  I ask all of you to join the crusade in bringing compassion & justice to all on this planet!

A day with Mama Amelia in Mfuleni

A day with Mama Amelia in Mfuleni