Spirit of the Great Heart

NewsPage_TseboF_24Oct14

Spearheading a phenomenal team effort, Tsebo Foundation and loveLife recently partnered with Khanya Family Centre in Katlehong, to inspire and enable 40 youths aged between 13 and 18.

Since 1994, Khanya Family Centre has been assisting families left parentless due to the HIV epidemic, by providing counselling, care and support services to these families – many of them struggling, and all headed by grandparents or youngsters.

loveLife, which promotes healthy, HIV-aware lifestyles to teens, has been a supporter of the centre’s efforts for over 10 years. Meanwhile, the Tsebo Foundation, CSI wing of the Tsebo Group, was launched at the centre in 2011, and is also a committed supporter.

On 6 October 2014, for the second year running, Tsebo Foundation treated 40 household-heading youths, from families that Khanya assists, to an unforgettable 3-day holiday camp at Zvezda Game Resort in North West.

On day one the youngsters were given a send-off at Khanya, by Mrs. Thembi Ramokgopa and Mrs. Mamolefe Mokhele (Khanya’s director and deputy director respectively), who also gave each child a packed toiletries bag. From there it was off to the wild, to be welcomed by Tsebo Foundation’s Sithombe Sithole together with Khanya, loveLife and Zvezda Game Resort facilitators.

From transport to accommodation, the Tsebo Foundation made sure the kids experienced a rewarding three days. The resort is fully geared to host youth camps, and enabled the kids, who get so few chances to feel young and carefree, to take a rare break from stress. Time at the camp was filled with stimulation; from learning about wildlife to team-building activities such as farm-building, game drives, singing, hiking, soccer, trampoline exercises, and swimming. Outstanding performers were given quality tracksuits as a reward.

Importantly, the kids got to talk with social workers, psychologists and counselors from loveLife in a supportive, informal environment. There were also presentations on teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, peer pressure and HIV/AIDS; in which the causes, consequences and prevention of these social ills were discussed. loveLife also presented an invaluable programme – ‘Always Press Play’ – carrying a message of aiming high in life to achieve personal goals.

Catering at camp posed a challenging undertaking; with 40 hungry youngsters to feed for three days, teamwork and ingenuity was required. The Tsebo Foundation had therefore sent an urgent request to Fedics Executive Chef, David Keir, to help make it happen. He quickly got in touch with the Fedics team based at client CBI Electric, some 45km from the camp, to enlist their help – and CBI then generously offered their kitchen facilities for the food preparation, rounding out the necessary means to roll out great meals. Tsebo’s Marketing Director Royce van der Zwan hired a van and the foundation’s Sithombe repeatedly drove to CBI to collect each day’s meals for the camp…

Breakfasts were prepared by Fedics’ Johanna Makgora and Annah Molantshwane, the night shift staff, and had to be ready to go at the crack of dawn. Simon Kekana, the day shift chef, came in early to make sure the meals were packed and ready for collection. Lunches and dinners were prepared by Annah Ndala and Kenkie Mohlamonyane. Olga Nteeo became quite expert at portioning and packing salads, while Thabiso Sekhabi took care of the loading and made sure the cold drinks stayed chilled.

Sjarlene Scott, Fedics Catering Manager (CBI Electric): “Our client forms an integral part of the Brits community, and it took no effort at all to convince them to allow Fedics and the Tsebo Foundation to use their facilities to contribute to this fantastic event. It was hard work and logistically challenging, but everyone involved was grateful to be part of making this camp all it could be for the kids.”

With all of the youngsters coming from homes where they must face the shadow of poverty and frequent hopelessness, the experience at Zvedza lit a spark of motivation in them, and saw them returning home with the understanding that we are not alone – we have support and people care.

Thembi Ramokgopa (Khanya Centre) later related that: “Even though the children’s parents have gone, life goes on and there are so many resources available to them. These kids are from different schools and really got to know each other and share their experiences of coping within their respective households. One of the children who attended is both an orphan and disabled, yet he was so warmly embraced by the others – and was even assisted to experience swimming. It really showed the mature and caring spirit of these children.”

Tsebo Foundation‘s Sithombe Sithole looks back with pride on “another successful camp – we are so proud to have supported the Khanya Family Centre in this wonderful initiative. I’d especially like to thank all the hardworking facilitators, Selina and Lindelwa (Khanya); Mlungisi (loveLife), Nomathemba and Thembi (Zvezda) and Zvezda Game Ranger, Godfrey. Pulling together an initiative like this requires a selfless team effort and I’d also like to say a special thank you to Royce van der Zwan and Cynthia Mothibe (Tsebo Marketing) and Samantha Hans (Tsebo FS), for their amazing support.”

With the 3-day camp wrapping up for the 40 tired – but energised – youngsters, our collaborators from Khanya Family Centre, loveLife, Zvezda Game Resort, Fedics and CBI had demonstrated, together, how team spirit can change lives, one heart at a time.