On the Road in South Africa – A journey of impact

Cape Town

On the road in South Africa: A Journey of impact

Zilla Stekhoven: Founder of Sawabona Africa

South Africa, a popular tourist destination. Breathtaking scenery, the famous winelands, Michelin quality dining at a small price, a beautiful friendly rainbow nation that welcomes tourists with open arms are just some of the reasons that people visit South Africa and keep coming back. I visit South Africa with a different purpose. Apart from visiting old friends and family, I now have new Sawabona Africa friends and partners who make my visit so memorable and full of joy and hope. Join me in this blog as I take you behind the tourist spots to meet some of our remarkable partner charities.

Hout Bay and Bright Start: A spark of potential

Hout Bay is the most magnificent Bay, on one side the starting point of the spectacular Chapmans Peak Drive. On the other side, the magnificent mountain ‘Sentinel’.  Also home to Bright Start, one of our partner charities who offer child sponsorships for children of the 2 townships in Hout Bay. For more information about Bright Start see my last blog  This visit, I was accompanied by Coco, one of our dedicated volunteers and certified South Africa fan, to meet the team at Bright Start. This was Coco’s first visit to Bright Start. We met with the staff Virginia (the Programme Coordinator) and Phiwe (educational support specialist) who shared their insights into the challenges children face in their communities, and the efforts they make to keep learners on track in their studies, despite many challenges they face at home.

In burst the new high school learners, eager to meet Virginia who was conducting self-reflection sessions with the students as their first year at school year had just started. Their excitement was electric and they looked fabulous in their new school uniforms. The children really do appreciate being given a chance to attend a good school and shared their dreams with us.


Meeting Sponsored children
Image: Zilla and Coco meet learners from Bright Start. Source: Coco van Zandvoort

Moving moments:

Later on that week, I received a message from Qama, our Sawabona Africa sponsored learner that her mother would love to meet me and thank me in person for all Sawabona Africa does. I could not miss this opportunity, and it was really worth it!  It was very humbling to hear her story and her determination for her 2 daughters to have a good education so they can have a better life!

Nurturing Connections with Uthando (Love)

A short rendezvous with James from Uthando (love) SA is a must-do in Cape Town. Despite his incredibly busy calendar he always makes time for me. Uthando (love) offers Philanthropic Educational Tours. I did not join a tour this time, but took the time to connect one to one. Our conversations are open, loving and supportive. One of the pillars of our relationship is transparency. Even though our partnership with Uthando (Love) SA is new, our shared wish to support projects in under-resourced communities is aligned and we share the same passion for the work we do!

Zilla and James
Image: Zilla and James having a heart to heart. Source: Zilla Stekhoven

Uthando (Love) Project : ‘Learn to Earn’.

One of our Uthando (Love) projects we support is ‘Learn to Earn’. They were delighted to receive their first donation from Sawabona Africa and we were welcomed with open hearts to their learning centre.  The centre was buzzing with activity. The new intake of eager adults learning skills that will hopefully help them earn an income, were starting their new courses. We were sorry to arrive too early to purchase freshly baked muffins, and the first lesson at the sewing class was underway where they were learning how to thread a sewing machine. What impresses me as always is the eagerness and focus of everyone attending their skills development courses. The walls were filled with notes and drawings from their workshops.

Sewing learn to earn
Image: Sewing team at Learn to Earn. Source: Zilla Stekhoven

Leaving Cape Town for Soweto

Many visitors to South Africa spend their time in Cape Town, and when they head up north, they skirt through Johannesburg on their way to a Safari to see the Big 5. Johannesburg is a city of overfull highways, which seem to go on forever. Loadshedding (when the electricity provider cuts supply for up to 12 hours a day) at traffic lights has activated the creative spirit of unemployed locals trying to make some money directing traffic or doing acrobats while you wait your turn.  I am petrified watching these dare-devils do their stunts.

I head to Freedom Park, the home of of PYMA. For more information about PYMA Read my last blog: Falling in love with PYMA.

Pioneering Progress with PYMA

This trip was extra special, as we have received Grant funding (subscribe to our newsletter to read more) to support 3 projects with PYMA.  Bokang (founder of PYMA) took a day of work to help us brainstorm and drill deeper into the project scope of these projects. Our day was filled with good laughs, wise words while the energy of planning for these projects kept us going in the hot Johannesburg summer heat. Our classrooms are needing a coat of paint after the move, and the new venue also needs to find its shape. This is not a deterrent to the learners. The place is bursting at the seams and there is need for more container classrooms, as the waiting list just gets longer and longer. It was heartbreaking to see them turn away an eager father wishing to enrol his child at the academy. 


Image: Zilla hard at work with Bokang and Mthandazo from PYMA. Source: Zilla Stekhoven

Embracing the power of impact!

As I reflect on the faces, the stories, the moments shared, I am reminded of the incredible significance of our work. Every life we support with our donations is changed in ways we cannot imagine.  I am the lucky one to receive their heartfelt gratitude for flying the flag for their work in Germany. I wish every reader of this blog to see and feel this gratitude.

There is power in human connection, our donations and support have such impact in under resourced poor communities, and despite all the bad press and challenges in South Africa, we are touching lives and we can create a ripple of hope and meaningful impact that resonates beyond our borders.

Join me and let’s do more. 

Donate today