A group of volunteers working with some of the children at Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng (image: Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng Facebook)A little gift can go a long way to changing someone’s life, as has been demonstrated time and again by Mama Asnath Teffo, the founder of Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng in the township of Olievenhoutbosch.Meaning “little gifts of home” in Setswana, Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng has helped hundreds of children and their families in the township, just outside of Midrand in Gauteng, by giving them the care and support they needed after the loss of their parents, or because of poverty.Fourteen years ago Asnath, or Mama-Assie as she is affectionately known by the community, moved from nearby Noordwyk to Olievenhoutbosch with her family, bringing her passion for improving the lives of others closely in tow.When she arrived in Olievenhoutbosch the area was dominated by shacks and other informal housing, before the RDP houses that dominate the landscape today were built. Here she became aware of the need to intervene and help those around her who were struggling because of the circumstances they found themselves in.Knowing she couldn’t battle all of life’s misfortunes she prioritised the care of destitute women and children, taking orphaned or abandoned youngsters into her home to raise among her own children.Mama-Assie has invested countless hours of her time and a huge amount of her resources in the improvement of the lives of those around her. She has put a particular focus on the young people having to grow up facing challenging situations such as child-headed homes.THE RECYCLING SWOP SHOPAs part of Diphonyana’s attempts to provide for the basic needs of the Olievenhoutbosch community, they are currently setting up a recycle swop shop which, as the name suggests, will combine recycling with helping people get their day-to-day necessities.The project is planned as a three-pronged tool to fight poverty and help the community. It will help clear litter and waste from the environment while providing people with their daily needs, all the time fostering self-help, independence and dignity.The idea is for people to collect recyclable waste such as tins, bottles and plastic products, and bring it to the swop shop. In exchange they will be given a ticket valued according to the amount of sorted materials they have collected.The tickets would then be redeemed at the organisation’s shop for essential products such as toiletries, food and clothing, depending on what has been donated to Dimphonyana by members of the public sympathetic to the cause.An example of the valuation system is as follows: 5 points for a loaf of bread, or 35 points for a standard food parcel containing mealie meal, bread, tea bags, cooking oil, soya mince and other basic cooking necessities.If all goes to plan, this innovative approach to tackling poverty while cleaning up the township will kick off on 1 June this year.OTHER PROJECTSAnother smart environment-friendly idea is the Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng Greenery Project, which hopes to turn the many informal dump sites in the township into mini eco-parks.The greening project is planned to work alongside the recycling swop shop. Volunteers and members of the community will clean up the dump sites and then plant them with indigenous trees and other greenery, to create the mini parks. The swop shop would be an incentive, encouraging people to remove recyclable material from the dump sites and take it to the swop shop.The project will begin with a pilot phase involving two identified sites: one near the centre of Olievenhoutbosch and the other at Kings Hope.Once the recycling project is under way, a longer-term goal is to sell the collected waste to recycling companies, and use the income to pay the people working on Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng projects.People are welcomed to visit the centre and see for themselves how Mama-Assie and her colleagues are making a difference on a daily basisPARTNERSHIPSDimphonyana hopes to partner with other organisations and corporations to get these projects off the ground.Organisations can help in a number of ways, such as adopting one of the dump sites to be made transformed into mini eco-parks, donating food products, toiletries and clothing for the swop shop or, as running the projects is likely to be labour-intensive, by offering their time as volunteers.The project is also open to receiving help from individuals in their own capacity who would like to donate their time and money or clothing and products.People are welcomed to visit the centre and see for themselves how Mama-Assie and her colleagues are making a difference on a daily basis.For more information on Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng or if you’re looking to offer your help in the running of the organisation in whatever way you can, contact Shalate Teffo on 071 027 3060 or Asnath Teffo (Mama-Assie) on 082 503 3648.You can also visit their Facebook page at Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng (Little Gifts of Home), their Twitter feed @dimphonyana_sa or their Instagram page via @dimphonyana_sa.
Launched in 2014, the Queen’s Young Leaders programme honours young people across the Commonwealth who are contributing to the improvement of their societies. Two South Africans were among those who received awards this year at Buckingham Palace. Two South Africans, Lethabo Ashleigh Letube and Jessica Dewhurst, join the 2016 Queen’s Young Leaders on 23 June 2016 at Buckingham Palace. (Image: Queen’s Young Leaders)Priya PitamberImagine flying to London to receive an award from Queen Elizabeth II. That is what happened to two young South African women, who were each awarded at Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen’s Young Leaders 2016. Lethabo Ashleigh Letube and Jessica Dewhurst were honoured for the work they do.The ceremony took place on 23 June 2016 where leadership and good work were recognised. The awards are aimed at young people between the ages of 18 to 29 across the Commonwealth who are making a change for the better in their communities.In attendance were, among others, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry, former English soccer star David Beckham, and former British prime minister John Major.“You have already been an inspiration to so many; but I hope this award will inspire you to go out and achieve even greater things in the future, empowered by the network of leaders you now sit amongst,” said Prince Harry to the honourees at the ceremony.Beckham said he was thrilled “to be here once again to help Her Majesty the Queen in congratulating a new group of inspiring young leaders”. He was looking forward to following the progress of the class of 2016. “I have no doubt we will be seeing a lot of this year’s exceptional group of young people as they continue to make lasting change in their communities.”Congratulations to all 60 of the #QueensYoungLeaders on your awards; an incredible achievement! pic.twitter.com/vIv1rMqefk— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) June 23, 2016“Winners of this prestigious award will receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the UK during which they will collect their award from Her Majesty the Queen,” reads the website. “With this support, award winners will be expected to continue and develop the amazing work they are already doing in their communities.”Representing South AfricaLetube grew up in the Langa township in Cape Town and works with Project Playground, which provides a safe space for children to go after school. It offers engaging activities and meals.She is also the chairwoman of a violence and crime prevention programme called Great Corner Lugna Gatna, according to the Queen’s Young Leaders website. Through the programme, young people are able to attend classes that empower them to turn their lives around from drug and alcohol abuse.“I always try to lead by example and motivate young people in the right way,” said Letube. “My motto is ‘you’re never a failure up until you give up.’”Today she is flying off to UK to receive her Award! @uLeighmeigh @QueensLeaders #YouthDay2016 pic.twitter.com/SISljiEIrv— ProjectPlayground SA (@ProjPlaySA) June 16, 2016Watch Letube speak about the palace and the training received in the UK:Proud to see our @uLeighmeigh speak about us at Buckingham Palace! #PPG #greatcornerlugnagatan #youthdevelopment https://t.co/zkMhFKqmcJ— ProjectPlayground SA (@ProjPlaySA) June 27, 2016Lethabo Letube talks about how the coaching on the @LeadingChangeUC course has helped her #QueensYoungLeaders pic.twitter.com/qOQv3UCboG— Queens Young Leaders (@QueensLeaders) June 22, 2016Being selected as a Queen’s Young Leader was a dream come true, said 24-year-old Dewhurst. She described the Queen as “incredibly friendly and knowledgeable about all of her young leaders and the work we do”.The Queen, she said, was genuinely interested and passionate about her and her work. “I could hardly believe that at 90 she was still so engaged and excited to support us in building sustainable and transformational organisations across the Commonwealth, but she most definitely was.”At 15, Dewhurst began volunteering at NGO camps to support refugees, children living with HIV/Aids and victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. By the age of 18, she had become the youth co-ordinator for the Edmund Rice Network for South Africa, training young people to start community-based projects.In 2013, she started the Social Justice and Advocacy Desk for South Central Africa, which offers skills courses to help young people find jobs, offers training and mentorships, and knowledge about human rights.“Being a Queen’s Young Leader means a lifelong commitment to my fellow person,” Dewhurst said. “And the promise that as a global force we will continue to work tirelessly to make the world a better place.”It was also about empowering young leaders to actively be the change makers in their society, while inspiring others to be the very same, she said. “Through this programme I have had the opportunity to learn so much, expand my skill set and bring that knowledge and experience into our context of South Central Africa.”Our #QueensYoungLeaders photos have been released! What a dream and honour to belong to this life-changing movement. pic.twitter.com/gSPM0TN7rl— Jessica Dewhurst (@JessDewhurstSA) July 4, 2016See this interview with Dewhurst:Sneak preview of tomorrow’s vlog as @PointlessBlog speaks to @JessDewhurstSA about her #QueensYoungLeaders project pic.twitter.com/ghv2irKu2C— Queens Young Leaders (@QueensLeaders) June 23, 2016Her focus now is on the continued expansion of the organisation to specialise and offer the best service possible to beneficiaries.SupportSouth African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu supports the Queen’s Young Leaders programme.“I believe young people are especially empowered and impassioned to change our world for the better,” he said.“The Queen’s Young Leaders programme celebrates, rewards and supports young people throughout the Commonwealth. I urge young South Africans and their peers across the Commonwealth to apply for the Queen’s Young Leaders Award. Let’s discover inspirational young people together.”Applications for the 2017 Queen’s Young Leaders are now open. Click here for more information.