Building work on the first phase of the latest and most ambitious Gumboots Foundation project is underway.   This joint venture involving Gumboots SA, Gumboots UK, Kidlinks World Inc in the  USA and the Kadey Family Charitable Corp in Canada (KCC) will provide a much needed home for Sigya Sonke Dance Group and an educational support programme for children and young people. 

The site was purchased in 2019 with generous personal donations from two donors and a local construction company provided ten shipping containers. Money raised at Gumboots UK’s 2019 Christmas Craft Market  and The Big Give Christmas Challenge, is helping to fund this first phase.

Recycling old shipping containers is a popular affordable building method in South Africa. They will be converted into changing rooms with showers and toilets for the dancers, storage for their instruments and costumes, a kitchen to provide meals, an office and facilities for a site caretaker. (Click on this link for a computer generated video of the design).

While in South Africa the trustees of Gumboots Foundation UK, along with Jack and Beauty Letsoela of Sigya Sonke, visited the Kliptown Youth Program adjacent to Soweto. Led by an inspirational young man Thulani Madondo, the project’s motto is “From Poverty to Opportunity”. Like Gumboots Foundation their aim is to support children’s education which they do through a range of after school activities. Thulani’s own experience of growing up in Kliptown gives him a unique insight into the needs of young people. With 17 paid staff they are working with over 460 children, achieving impressive results and raising significant funds both locally and abroad. The project has won numerous awards.

The good news for Gumboots Foundation  is that Thulani has agreed to join its Board and will provide invaluable advice and support in the development of the Alex project. Jack and Beauty were so impressed they have arranged to send a group of Sigya Sonke ‘alumni’ to Kliptown to begin to build a relationship between the two projects.

Through the partnership of the above named  four charities, funding for the first phase of the Alex project is now secured and the aim was  to complete the performing arts building in time for an opening celebration in December but sadly the Coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis has obviously set all of this back.

But we are looking to a better future and pressing ahead.  Our task now is to seek funding for the second phase – the Education Support Centre. The new Gumboots SA Board is setting up a sub-committee to oversee its development. This will include Martine Schaffer who has many years of experience of working in the charitable sector and a particular interest in education, as well as Thulani and Moss Kadey of KCC.

In the UK we will be working hard this year to raise funds for the second phase, the cost of which is 3 million South African Rand – at current exchange rates is £163,000.  Donors are invited to help us achieve our goal – all donations however modest will be gratefully received.