Casewise CEO Alexandre Wentzo shares his story…
I visited our South Africa office in Pretoria last year to meet the team over there. All the people were great and the office is doing really well, but I was amazed by the sights I witnessed in the local cities. There was such a difference between those areas lining the route from the airport to the major cities and the other townships off the main commuting roads. The visit of the FIFA World Cup in 2010 clearly attracted a lot of regeneration in the areas that would be visited by supporters and sponsors, but other townships have been neglected and show another side to the country. I travelled through a township called Khayelitsha which is experiencing immense poverty and it gave me a real wake up call. It is Cape Town’s largest township but many of its residents still live in shacks and don’t have electricity or running water. I couldn’t forget what I saw and I felt I had to do something to help. I didn’t want to just send money so I decided to visit Khayelitsha again between Christmas and New Year. I flew to Cape Town and took a taxi to the city without anywhere to stay or any knowledge of what was ahead of me.
I met a lady called Lucy who manages a nursery in Khayelitsha, a vital centre where parents can leave children – from as young as four months – at 5am while they go and find work in Cape Town. Parents in Khayelitsha have no option but to leave their children in the nursery; if they don’t go out and find work then they can’t afford food to feed the family. There are only three rooms and one table for the children to use at the centre. Conditions are unsafe leaving the children vulnerable and at risk, so much so that Lucy has just been given notice that the building is to be closed in eight weeks due to health and safety concerns. It’s going to take at least eight to 10 months to rebuild the nursery but funding for that is uncertain and there is no facility for the children to go to in the meantime. Even with the World Cup visiting the country recently, it’s shocking to see that no substantial investment was made in local communities. That’s why I want to set up a charity to finance the building of a new nursery. After my last trip I was haunted by the images I saw and when I returned home I sold my car to help fund the new charity. I don’t expect others to make the same sacrifice but I am looking to partner with charities and businesses to help me start my project. I’ve already set up a few meetings with local builders and community leaders in South Africa.
Khayelitsha is one of the fastest growing townships in South Africa and I want to help invest in the futures of the children living there today to help provide a better quality of life for future generations. If you feel like me, and these images make you want to stand up and help the families of Khayelitsha live healthier and happier lives then please contact me at email@example.com. I’d love to write another post in a year saying how much the situation has improved.