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The Forest of Reality.....Sustainable upliftment

by Beatrice Delpierre on Jul 07, 2022

The value of a forest……  Sustainable upliftment

The expression ‘throwing shade’ has negative connotations these days, but when I was reflecting recently on a career spanning almost 16 years in social enterprises that have all been created to benefit women and children, the metaphor of the tree casting its shade over those in need of protection from the sun, came to mind.

It is often said that one of South Africa’s most precious resources is not its mineral wealth but its people. So my question is, how are we continuing to fail such a valuable commodity, especially our children who hold the future of the country in their hands?

Kidzpositive Family Fund was founded in 2001 as a programme to assist the mothers and caregivers of HIV positive children. Designed to provide a dependable, steady income derived from beading projects which allow the women to work from home and to continue to look after the children, @Kidz Positive recognised the importance of keeping family units together and not losing the head of the household to work opportunities far from home.

In 2016 when funding dried up, I stepped in and took on as a commercial enterprise, expanding its work into the @Kidz Positive Foundation. Funds from the foundation are ploughed back into the education of the female caregivers, as well as to the early childhood development of the children.  The women are taught basic financial literacy as well as traditional and loom beading skills.

With the advent of Covid-19, corporate gifting, which is the lifeblood of @Kidz Positive, dried up, but the Foundation was able to continue to support many of the 40-50 families that work with us by providing food parcels.

Now, we are ready to resume previous output levels, which has just resulted in delivery of 13 000 units of product to one corporate in just three weeks.

Ours is not a pity purchase. We take pride in developing in our product range and to execute complex beaded patterns and shapes to meet all our clients’ highest expectations. So far we have never failed, often because our clients are our partner in the design process.

But back to the tree analogy. Sometimes I feel like I am a lone tree, my shade extending only so far. What is needed is an entire forest of people and enterprises, working to make a fundamental difference to the socio-economic challenges facing our country.

Where is corporate South Africa’s commitment to social upliftment? When overseas Foundations are the first to step in with funding ahead of local philanthropists or corporate benefactors, it’s to our shame. Where is the support from local enterprises for projects such as @Kidz Positive? Are companies truly looking for projects that benefit communities and by extension the country, or only for the cheapest gift options, ordered from a catalogue of imported items?

As much as the work we are doing is providing ‘shade’ to around 50 families, this is only small-scale relief. Without corporate and private citizen support, upliftment programmes such as @Kidz Positive are simply unsustainable and we will never eradicate the issues of poverty and unemployment that face many South Africans.

How can we harness the spirit of Ubuntu – to create nourishing ‘shade’ in industrial quantities?

Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw3MBi8qwyA to meet some of the mothers at the project.

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