Nosipho Mayana from Kyalami near Johannesburg received the 2009 Inyathelo Award for Women in Philanthropy at a gala dinner at the Westin Grand Arabella Quays in Cape Town last night.
She was nominated for establishing Siyanqoba, an organisation dedicated to aiding and protecting those affected by HIV/ Aids and providing clothing and nourishment for abused and neglected children.
A widow with children to look after, Mayana took a gamble when she started Siyanqoba, a Non Profit Organisation (NPO) in 2002. Operating from an informal settlement in Honeydew in Gauteng’s West Rand, and with no funding, Mayana sprang into action to realise her dream. She approached various companies for assistance and was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction she received.
“I couldn’t believe how generous the companies were,” says Mayana. “I think the biggest lesson I’ve learnt though Siyanqoba is that if you don’t ask, you won’t get.”
She had the same experience with volunteers. She asked for assistance and got it. People have offered their services to help with the many projects that the NPO embarks on. They are dedicated to the organisation, giving up their weekends to feed children at Siyanquoba’s soup kitchen, and to help distribute clothing and food parcels to the people and children on their beneficiary list.
Most of Siyanqoba’s beneficiaries are children. More than 700 benefit from its work.
“Being nominated for an award such as this is a miracle,” says Mayana. “I’ve been praying for something that will help raise awareness of the needs of the children in this community. There is so much more that we want to do, but without more funding, our hands are tied.”
With no grants from government, Siyanqoba relies on donations from the corporate sector and individuals.
“Some schools have started fund-raising initiatives for us too, which is very helpful,” she says. “Northcliff High School recently donated three boxes filled with hygiene products such as face cloths, soaps and toothbrushes. If every school could get involved in community outreach programmes, just imagine how many communities and children would benefit!”
Some of the exciting projects Mayana would like to launch in the informal settlement, but needs funding and donations of supplies are:
- Beadwork, sewing, knitting and wire artistry classes which will not only provide necessary skills to the children and the community, but will provide much needed income to the impoverished community.
- Planting vegetable gardens which will provide fresh vegetables to the community and improve their nutritional status, and
- A computer centre to provide training.
The NPO also needs funding that will cover its overheads and day-to-day needs. It requires a vehicle such as a bakkie which can be used to carry parcels, supplies and clothing it distributes. Currently Mayana and the volunteers use their own vehicles to do this.
She also hopes that her nomination for the Award may inspire others to get involved in their own communities. Mayana likes to lead by example and often helps people who are battling to start their own NPO. Mayana has helped others to launch NPOs and is happy to give advice and pointers from her own experience.
The most important piece of advice that she feels she should share with all who want to get involved in community projects is not to start with too many things: “Start small and build up on that. Use your strengths. Be honest,” she urges.
Mayana says that she’s grateful for all the help that she’s received in order to deliver on her promise to the Honeydew informal settlement.
“I really couldn’t have done it without Marcia van Aswegen from Sable Data Works (Pty) Limited, Bokomo Foods (Pty) Ltd, Edcon, The Kellogg Company of South Africa, Pick ‘n Pay, Fruit and Vegetable City, Food Bank, Fyfer Incorporated, Nestle (Pty), all of whom provide ongoing assistance to the programme. There are many others and although I haven’t mentioned them, please know that I thank you from the bottom of my heart!”