Richard Mabaso, founder of the Imbumba Foundation, has been pushing the envelope when it comes to playing his part in bettering the lives of those living in rural and poverty-stricken areas around southern Africa.
Having grown up in a poor village in the province of Mpumalanga, Mabaso has an intimate understanding of the difficulties faced by people caught up in the vicious cycle of poverty and this, in part, is why he is so hell-bent on making a difference.
The Imbumba Foundation delivers community development programmes, such as its Caring 4 Girls programme, to areas where they are most needed.
The Caring 4 Girls programme helps get menstrual hygiene products to girls, as they often miss out on school without access to these. The programme is supported by partnerships and fundraising initiatives.
“What we decided, in 2012, was to come up with a concept that would not only make every day a Mandela day but something that would be more tangible and so we launched a programme called Trek4Mandela,” says Mabaso.
Trek4Mandela creates mass awareness about the challenges faced by girls in underprivileged schools during their menstrual cycles and raises funds to buy menstruation hygiene products.
The first Trek4Mandela expedition kicked off in July 2012 with Sibusiso Vilane, the first black African to conquer Mount Everest, joining Mabaso to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Their trip was their contribution for Mandela Day’s 67 minutes of activism.
The expedition was a success, raising enough funds to buy more than the targeted 67 000 sanitary pad packs.
“The bigger picture is to use Trek4Mandela as something that will talk to the echoes of making every day a Mandela Day … so we don’t wait for July anymore; we’re educating people about Mandela Day so it can be an everyday thing,” says Mabaso.
Since Caring 4 Girls began its operations the organisation has moved from strength to strength and over the past two years has distributed more than 130 000 packs of sanitary pads and touched the lives of more than 10 000 girls, with the numbers steadily on the rise.
“Through this programme we are not only able to provide sanitary protection to the girls but we then build their confidence in knowing that during that tough or challenging time of the month they are supported,” explains Mabaso.
Partners in the initiative include Lil-lets We Are Women, the City of Ekhuruleni, Bongani Mountain Lodge and uMkhosi woMhlanga (The Zulu Royal Reed Dance) to support more than 30 000 girls.
As part of its work with the City of Ekhuruleni, Caring 4 Girls visited Winnie Mandela Secondary School in Tembisa on 28 February to hand over 20 school uniforms and sanitary pad packs, provided by the mayor’s office and the Imbumba Foundation, to pupils.
Mondli Gungubele, executive mayor of the City of Ekhuruleni, and his mayoral committee joined Mabaso at the school.
During his address to the students the mayor promised to take the secondary school under his wing and pledged his office’s support, saying, “We, as a city, took a view that whilst education competence is a provincial and a national phenomenon, as a city we are responsible for education, all South Africans are responsible for education.
“To date we have adopted three schools in Ekhuruleni to test the relationship and the programmes that we have involving the environment and sports, as well as addressing social issues like pupils not being able to go to school because they cannot afford sanitary pads.
“The time spent away from school because of this impacts heavily on the child’s education.”
Winnie Mandela Secondary School principal, Eddie Kekana, says, “Through this particular partnership and through the adoption of the school by the mayor we are actually very optimistic of greater things to come out of this institution.”
Thsegofatso Rebetse, a female Grade 11 pupil at the school said, “I’m glad that the mayor didn’t forget us; I’m also happy that Mr Mabaso came to help the girls in our school and I hope that I can be one of the learners that will make the school very proud and lift the name of the school.”
LEARNING TO SAVE WITH IMBUMBA
The Imbumba Foundation and the Caring 4 Girls programme have also partnered with the Banking Association of South Africa‘s flagship financial literacy programme, Teach Children to Save South Africa, to promote saving among the country’s children.
“Our partnership with the Imbumba Foundation goes back to 2012 when we met in Soweto at the launch of Mandela Day,” says Fikile Kuhlase, senior general manager in the association’s socio-economic growth and development division.
“The concept of Caring 4 Girls spoke to what we would be interested in supporting and as a banking industry body we would be more interested in issues surrounding financial literacy and financial inclusion and Caring 4 Girls allows us to look at the social inclusion aspect.”
“Through this partnership with Teach Children to Save South Africa we are now able to develop not only a girl child but both a girl and a boy child,” Mabaso adds.
PLAY YOUR PART
This July you can join Mabaso and Vilane as they drive and climb through Botswana, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania, on the way to Mount Kilimanjaro, to pay respect to democracies that played a role in shaping South Africa’s freedom.
Mabaso says, “Join Trek4Mandela as we celebrate 20 years of democracy; we are uniting Africa and the world through the living legacy of Madiba.”
To participate in this year’s Trek4Mandela call Mabaso on
+27 (0) 73 5577 2189 or +27 (0) 35 797 3800.