We like getting to know the people behind the non-profit organisations that we partner with. Today, Alef Meulenberg, Chairman of Rhiza Babuyile, tells us more about running a non-profit organisation.
In 10 words or fewer, what is the idea behind Rhiza Babuyile?
Developing township communities into self-sustaining flourishing economic hubs.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received (in the context of a Non-Profit Organisation)?
The best advice I received initially is to always remember that those who you aim to help / develop are equal to you as people. No matter what circumstances someone lives in, no matter how much – or little – education someone has had – the people you try to help are people, and that makes them equal to you, your sponsors and anyone else, in fact.
This helps me to value our beneficiaries and to only start projects of high quality.
What advice would you give those wanting to work for, or start, a Non-Profit Organisation?
Don’t give up. Sometimes you might wonder why you’ve started to work in this field, as there are always politics and challenges, and the social issues in our country seem endless. But at the end of the day, you will see the fruit of your work. We certainly have.
What, in your mind, has been Rhiza Babuyile’s biggest success?
Our greatest success so far has been to help over 15,000 people in 2015. We’re a young organisation (started officially in 2010) and have been blessed to grow to the point where we can in fact make an impact in the communities of Diepsloot and Orange Farm.
What have you / your organisation learnt from mistakes that may have been made?
Never assume. Initially you might assume that a project or program will be needed in a certain community and they might even look extremely logical and exciting on paper, but if it is not what is needed nor wanted in the community, it will not succeed. We therefore always emphasize the needs within the community spoken out by community members.
In what way would you like Rhiza Babuyile to impact South Africa?
We would like to contribute to closing the gap of economic equality in South Africa. Currently our country is still the country with the biggest economic inequality in the world!!! We find that unacceptable.
We heard that you’re doing a pretty hardcore fundraiser – please tell us more.
The Dutch arm of our organisation has established a little tradition over the last two years. Every year, a group of volunteers cycle up one of the toughest mountains in France, the Alpe d’Huez, to raise money for our charitable projects. This year, I’ve chosen to cycle to raise funds for township youth to become fashion designers and enable them to produce their own collection under our fashion label, Rhiza, Rooted in Africa. It’ll be hard work as we’re cycling up the mountain 6 times in one day – this means a total climb of 84 kilometres, with a total distance of 168 kilometres covered.
Have you met any people or heard any stories that have inspired you to do the work that you do? If so, please tell us a little more.
Everyone has obviously heard about the work of people like Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and others. However, people who inspire me are the gogos (grannies) in the townships who run preschools at age 70, young entrepreneurs who relentlessly aim to create a better life for themselves, and kids who despite the challenges, have joy and happiness in their lives.
Why did you decide to do the work that you do?
I’ve always struggled with injustice. Rather than working in corporate, I’d rather try to be part of the solution to social problems.
Go here for more information on Rhiza Babuyile’s project on Different.org.