Spur Foundation Saluting Our Creating Change Hero!
August 10, 2014
On 9 August, National Women’s Day, South Africans will be saluting the role of women in our society. In this spirit, Spur Foundation will be saluting Liesel James, founder of Creating Change, one of the primary beneficiaries of the Spur Foundation.
Creating Change is a non-profit company that strives to empower the youth in under-served communities, to build a sustainable future for themselves and their families. This programme provides education and skills development through indigenous permaculture gardening, healthy cooking and nutrition, product development and more.
Spur Foundation joined forces with Creating Change to set up the Conscious Lifestyle Programme at the Desmond Tutu HIV Youth Centre in Masiphumulele, between Kommetjie and Noordhoek in Cape Town.
“The Desmond Tutu Centre is aimed at educating youth on health and providing guidance especially around HIV and leadership. It ties in with our Conscious Lifestyle Programme where we teach them about nutrition, the uses of plants, environmental awareness and how to maintain a permaculture garden – an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems. We want to inform them about the dangers of chemicals and additives in soil and processed food and, of course, we also want to show them positive and affordable alternatives to it,” Liesel explains.
The Ocean View community is heavily dependent on local industry, seasonal fishing and labour. There is much unemployment and poverty in the area and social problems. Liesel says, as a result, the biggest threats to the children at the Centre and in Ocean View are rape, drugs and gangsterism.
“These children just need to be nurtured, guided and supported, in order to break the negative cycle they may find themselves in – and ironically it resonates extremely well with the Spur Foundation slogan, Nourish, Nurture, Now!” she adds.
“I have three children of my own, so I understand them and treat all the kids I work with like I am their biological mother. When they do something wrong I have to reprimand them – I often have to intervene when they have anger management, discipline and racial issues. I basically just love them –they are the motivation why I am still here,” Liesel says proudly.
“I have felt like giving up before, due to burnout, but never due to the children, more as a result of a lack of resources or adult ‘gatekeepers’ in the community who were standing in the way of us reaching the children, changing original agreements and making it challenging for me to deliver. Children are here to learn and I am here to teach them,” she says adamantly.
Liesel believes that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has always been a man of integrity, standing up for humanity, speaking his truth without fear, calling us the Rainbow Nation and believing that, without forgiveness, there is no future.
“He is really the last honourable leader and voice left in South Africa, after the passing of Nelson Mandela. Mandela, again, can be admired for his humility, wisdom and honourable attitude after 27 years in prison. He was our African father,” Liesel adds.
Using these two formidable leaders as an example, Liesel aims to assist all the children on the programme until they finish school. Every year Creating Change offers more skills development than the year before and the programme is evolving into a mentorship and entrepreneurship programme, assisting the children when they leave school. This will have an effect on the communities around them and the people they come in touch with for the rest of their lives.
Liesel and her team have been working with some of the children for five years and watched them grow and learn. She realised that children need a huge amount of support, especially in these communities where there is a lack of guidance, career counselling and good mentorship. She assisted regularly to provide them with different stimuli, constant education and guidance on how to make healthy choices. The children need to have a safe place to talk about anything.
The Desmond Tutu Centre provides learners with dedicated counsellors, but some of the Ocean View children are still carrying a lot inside them, without much safe assistance. “I hope that they will remember me as someone who is independent, a finisher, but more importantly as someone who loved them dearly and believed in them,” Liesel concludes.
Spur Foundation has supported Creating Change for the past 6 years and have watched the project grow from strength to strength through the dedicated and passionate work of Liesel James and her team. She truly embodies the spirit of ubuntu and Spur can proudly salute Liesel as one of South Africa’s great servants of her community.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
NAME: Ronel van Dijk, Chairperson of the Spur Foundation and Chief Financial Officer of Spur Corporation Limited
TEL: +27 21 555 5100
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