Tag Archives: charity

The art of giving this Christmas

It’s that time of the year again, when we eat too much, drink too much and spend too much money. Well, most of us in any case. For a huge portion of our population, it is a time where people feel the most at loss, especially when it comes to making it a special time for their children.

Enter Dlala Nje’s annual Christmas Party. These guys run a cultural games emporium in Ponte City for the children of Hillbrow and surrounds and throw a Christmas party for these kids every year. They provide a space for children to have fun in a safe environment and enjoy all sorts of activities for the afternoon. They even get a present each and a chance to sit on Santa’s lap!

For a lot of these children, this will be the only Christmas fun that they experience and the only gift that they receive. Orphanages in the area are also invited and it is an afternoon of (mad) fun with face painting, crafts, cupcakes, jumping castles, performances and of course, presents!

We managed to collect about 1000 gifts from many kind hearts (which wasn’t enough!) and spent our afternoon madly helping out with the party. There were so many smiling faces and I am so happy to have been a part of such an amazing initiative. I have all the time in the world for these guys and their cause.

Here are some pictures from the day. I hope that you will be there next year too, to help make a child smile, as Madiba would have liked it!

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

Dlala Nje

Apparently this is me as an angel – bless!

Dlala Nje 2

What counts in life

Dlala Nje 1

It’s not a party ’til there’s a jumping castle

Dlala Nje 4

DJ rocking the decks

Dlala Nje 5

When making angels turned into making binoculars

Dlala Nje 6

THIS is the coolest car in the world. He was so chuffed with his gift!

Dlala NJe 7

So proud of her snow man Christmas tree decoration

Dlala Nje 3

Face painting is always a hit – even when we have no idea what to paint or how!


Make a big difference this Christmas with Dlala Nje

The guys down at Dlala Nje in Ponte City are hosting their annual Christmas party for the children living there and in the surrounding areas and orphanages of Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea on 6 December 2013.

[If you haven’t already heard of these guys, do yourself a favour and explore their website. Two “white okes” move into Ponte City and start making a difference in the lives of the community – it’s unreal what they have accomplished and how they have changed the perceptions of inner city Joburg.]

Nonetheless, the matter at hand is the Christmas party. Last year’s party was a rip-roaring success and you will not believe the amount of hopeful little faces playing outside on the concrete, getting their faces painted and waiting in line to sit on Santa’s lap and get a present (likely the only present they received for Christmas).

I wrote about the experience last year too – check it out here.

This year’s season is upon us and we’d LOVE for some support in the form of gifts or even volunteers to help on the day (second hand toys are also welcome). Please get in touch with them directly, or me, if you would like to help out. It will make such a difference to their lives – you just don’t realise it yet.

There are bigger things in life than #FirstWorldProblems

I had the most eye-opening Mandela Day experience with Dlala Nje last Thursday. In the midst of having a ‘woe is me’ few days, I pulled it all together and went to help Dlala Nje out with their Hillbrow blanket walk and party for the Ponte kids at Maboneng.

We started the afternoon off by taking some blankets to those living in a park near Ponte City, hailed “Junkie Park” for obvious reasons. There is only one word to describe what I saw and experienced: HECTIC. These people literally live in the park and are hopelessly addicted to a drug or few. Walking in there was like walking into heavy smog, although it was a clear day. Desperate eyes look at you – the kind of desperation that I have never (and will never have) experienced in my life. Behind those eyes was darkness. It was chilling. They swarmed us as we started to hand out blankets. Desperate.

As we walked away from there, someone called out “they’re only going to sell those for drugs, you know”. They’re probably right. At least the sold blanket will end up keeping someone warm, I guess.

Next up was to round up the kids living in Ponte Towers and to go on a walk through Hillbrow, handing out blankets to the homeless along the way. More desperate eyes were met. People fought with each other for them. For a BLANKET. It was touching to see the kids take the blankets off their backs (it was a pretty chilly afternoon) and give it to those that needed it more than them. We dodged man-holes along the way (the covers are stolen to sell to scrap metal dealers) and stopped kids from falling into sewerage. This is their neighbourhood.

When we reached Fox Street, where the Maboneng District had prepared a party for the kids in the area, the little boy next to me lit up when he saw the jumping castle. “Is that a jumping castle?” he said. “Yes, it’s lots of fun, hey?” “I don’t know, I’ve never been on one.” He was ordered to immediately take his shoes off and jump on. He ran for that jumping castle, with the biggest holes in his socks I have ever seen (he might as well have not been wearing any), with pure joy that I have not seen in a long time.

I left there feeling humbled and emotional. And grateful for the life that I have. My woes were small in comparison to what so many people in our country experience and overcome every single day of their lives.

If every one of us just gave something to the desperate community on our doorstep, or even better, helped to empower others, it will go a long way in making our country more bearable for a lot of people. Pay it forward.

There are bigger things in life than #FirstWorldProblems.

The Faces of Ponte

So this past weekend marked the first ever Dlala Nje Christmas Party at Ponte City.

An insane turnout of kids from the surrounding areas and orphanages proved to provide a very full day of activity.

There was apparently some street performance, cookies and hot dogs, singing and dancing, presents, presents and lots of laughter. I can’t actually give you my account of what was going on in general – I arrived and started painting faces, 4 hours later I was still painting faces.

I saw innocent little happy face after innocent little happy face and spent hours looking into the eyes of kids filled with hope. There is just something about the innocence and complete trust of a child that makes something shift inside of you. It almost makes you soften from the inside out.

Here is my photo account of the day. Don’t judge the artwork…I did my best!

Faces of Ponte 18 Faces of Ponte 17 Faces of Ponte 16 Faces of Ponte 15 Faces of Ponte 14 Faces of Ponte 13 Faces of Ponte 12 Faces of Ponte 11 Faces of Ponte 10 Faces of Ponte 9 Faces of Ponte 8 Faces of Ponte 7 Faces of Ponte 6 Faces of Ponte 5 Faces of Ponte 4 Faces of Ponte 3 Faces of Ponte 2 Faces of Ponte

Horses helping people

I have recently fallen in love with horses. I had always wondered how people were so content covered in dust with their boots smelling like horse poo, but now I understand.

These animals are truly amazing. They are so intuitive and somehow manage to mirror a person’s emotions. They show us things inside of us that we have been hoping not to have to deal with.

People say that ‘the way of the horse’ is something therapeutic, but I failed to understand how. Until I got involved with these majestic creatures myself and got led to a phenomenal organisation called ‘Shumbashaba’.

With the mission of ‘Horses helping people’, Shumbashaba sets out to help and empower people with horses.

Huh? How? Let me tell you a story.

I attended a meet and greet open day for Shumbashaba on the weekend, where one of the therapy sessions offered was demonstrated. The disabled and cerebral palsied children were given a horse therapy session, where they are placed on a horse and walked around the arena.

Big deal? Indeed it is. These children cannot walk, some cannot sit upright and some have a severe form of cerebral palsy where they cannot control their continual muscular spasms. Time on a horse is like physiotherapy for them, which assists with balance, muscle tone, spinal movement and forces 3D movement of the body. This may not seem like much to you and I, but to these kids it is the world. 15 minutes on a horse is equivalent to 5-6 hours of regular physiotherapy. You can actually see how the muscular spasms calm down after a few minutes on a horse and how the children start to strengthen and engage their muscles in a way that they can’t on the ground.

Being able to move through a living, compassionate animal has a huge psychological benefit to them as well and the smiles on their faces after a session is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life before.

It touched my heart.

This is only one of the kinds of sessions that the centre offers and they are heavily involved in the local community and the disabled. I cannot begin to understand the full impact of the work that they do, but my heart goes out to people with such beautiful spirits.

If you’re keen on helping out, go visit their website or Facebook page and see what they offer. Also keep your eyes on my blog for details on more social media aspects to come (courtesy of Social Ideas). They are also always looking for volunteers, as the therapy I explained above requires three volunteers per child – one to lead the horse and two to hold the child.

Go spend time with a horse…if you get nothing else out of it, at least you can experience the magic feeling of a velvet nose 😉

Mind over Body, or Body over Mind?

I participated in my first spinathon for charity this past Saturday, hosted by Virgin Active in aid of raising funds and awareness for the The Bigshoes Foundation. The foundation is an amazing initiative to provide medical assistance to orphaned and vulnerable children, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS. I was quite humbled that my participation in this event helped to raise funds for a foundation that is so full of heart.

It was such an awesome vibe and there were loads of goodies and prizes (although I would have much preferred if those freebies were rather converted into funds and donated to the charity), and really quite relaxed. I was even tweeting and facebooking from my bike!


Well done to the organisers – it was great fun! Support the foundation in any way you can. You can also follow them on Twitter @bigshoessa and join their Facebook group – Friends of Bigshoes.

Here’s my personal take on the whole concept:

It started as a grudge purchase…”must go to gym so that I can keep enjoying my food without getting fat”. It then became an escape from an unhappy relationship and exercise is now an essential part of my life! Not only does it feel good, but the side effects are really quite a bonus! Starting a day with a wonderful rush of endorphins never hurt anyone.

So when I decided at the last minute to join a 3 hour spinathon, I didn’t really think twice. Spinning is easy for me and lots of fun. I woke up and rolled out of bed into my spinning gear, not even bothering to have breakfast on the way out the door. Apparently it was actually quite a challenge, but it surprisingly wasn’t that difficult for me…huh? 3 Hours non-stop on a stationary bike at intervals of high and low impact…there is something wrong with my head, I think.

This then bears the question – was it a case of mind over body, or body over mind? Did my mind tell my body it was easy, or did my body tell my mind to shut off and just do it? Either way, I think it made me realise that our bodies are far stronger than we believe that they are. This then also means that our minds are definitely stronger than we think!

Exercise is powerful.

I’ve had numerous signs over the past few days since the spinathon to tell me that I’m stronger than I think –  something is definitely shifting in this mind of mine.

I encourage you to do something this week that moves you, in body and mind. It’s how we feel alive…