We are in the third quarter since the founding of the trust. August 22nd marks the 10th anniversary of Zoe Sarojini’s death and as her Mum I feel that the trust is a fitting memorial for her.
Our initial sponsors were drawn from Zoe’s immediate family, colleagues and friends. We will need to interest a wider range of people so that we can continue to help girls (and some boys) to improve their opportunities though the best education available for them and also in cases of greater hardship helping to provide items for daily living.
The trust news has been uniformly good for our first few months.
We are now an official registered charity: No.1135609, in addition to being approved by the Inland Revenue for gift-aid status, which means we can claim an additional 28 percent of any donations from UK taxpayers. The trustees and mentors in South Africa are working voluntarily and so there are no expenses incurred by the trust in this respect. On the basis of the recommendation of these local volunteers we intended to start small and let things grow organically and this has happened.
Our first fund raising yielded over 50 sponsors bringing an income of £624 per month in instalment payments and one-off donations of £1940. These funds are now helping 24 families in sending 45 children to school. Some groups of sponsors are helping an individual child; others are helping a whole child-led family. The children were selected by our three mentors working on the ground in South Africa and through them we’ve tried to match each child to sponsor or groups of sponsors.
Zoe’s brother Ben is a trustee. His wife is a doctor and his daughter a medical student. The boy that they are sponsoring dreams of being a doctor.
In establishing the Trust, it was important to us that we try to establish a link, where possible, between each child and their sponsors. Sponsors who wish to correspond with the children they help are each asked to write once or twice a year to the children and will receive letters in return. The first batch of letters from sponsors was sent early this year, and the first batch of replies has arrived by email to me and has been sent on.
Hlengiwe Mthimkulu who is charge at Zisize which supports many of the children we sponsor wrote to us in April after she had received the first batch of letters from the sponsors:
“It was good to hear from you and would love to thank you guys for taking over some of Zisize’s load that we are really struggling to carry because of the big number of children in need of help, so I say: Well done! And long live!!! You are going to make a difference in the lives of these children and be proud of yourselves.”
The children’s letters have all been carefully written in English, many with drawings attached. One of the boys wrote to his sponsors:
“I am 13 years old; I like to read books and to speak English. I wish to be a businessman one day. I am doing grade 9 in Nansindlela Combined School. I need recommendations on how can I achieve my dreams. My granny is 77 years old and she’s got some craftwork she wishes to do this before she dies; may be my future will vanish.”
Another girl of 17, whom Tanya sponsors, wrote:
“I want to thank you for giving me something I never expected….. You make me proud and feel welcome in your heart.”
A boy of 13 whose Mum is dead and who himself is HIV positive wrote her a poem which reads:
“My dearest Friend
My mom, my sun, my everything. When I see you the earth shakes,
Everyone desires to have someone like you.
My rock my soul maker what am I without you?
You make my day bright. You restore my memory, you are my strength
When the sun comes out, early in the morning, you are with me, when the sun sets you are with me as well, I will never forget what you are to me.
When I am sad you are there to comfort me , when I’m lonely you are there to keep me company . I will never disappoint you, but you will always be my friend.”
And he added to his sponsors:
“This is a short poem that I have for you. I am not a really well person, I’m ill I have got the really dangerous disease. I hope you can reply to me soon, if you can.”
Although we realize that we’re only a tiny drop in an overwhelming ocean of need, we feel that what the trust is doing will have a permanent positive effect on the recipients.
As Zoe’s Mum, I am deeply pleased to imagine how much she would have appreciated what everyone is doing in her name. And I believe that the beginnings of these relationships between the children and sponsors will benefit both sides.
Dot Schwarz, August 2010