The Paw-Paw Foundation

There is immense pressure on non-profit organisations in South Africa today, as the need to help orphaned and vulnerable children grows – plus there is a need to support the elderly who have taken upon the role of looking after these children. Non-profit organisations have also come to realise that to give handouts to people helps only in the short term, but is certainly not a long term solution.

For over 15 years Frontline Underwriting Managers has continued to generously support the Paw-Paw Foundation and their commitment to changing lives, affording them the ability to impact on thousands of lives, giving them a brighter future – and a sustained living opportunity.

In 2010 with Frontline’s help, the Paw-Paw Foundation was able to give 100 young black South Africans full music bursaries to study music at the Durban Music School. Young children who showed promise and commitment were identified and given an instrument of their choice. Practical and theoretical lessons followed, with their transport, uniforms, exam fees and provision of meals. A few years later, it is possible to see what an amazing impact this program has had on these young lives. The exams that they undertook, were through the Royal School of Music or Trinity School of Music in London. Many of them now have an accredited music diploma which is equivalent to a BA Music degree and have gone on to find employment in the music industry. The Defence Force Army and Police Force bands have for many years now, used the Durban Music School as their main recruiting agency and most of the musicians they have employed over the past 5 years, have been young people who were part of this program. One of our young graduates is currently the principal trumpet player in the Army band and which often plays for the President! He earns a very good salary and is now married with two children. Coincidentally, his wife was also part of our bursary program and plays in an Army band in Mpumalanga. Between them, they are financially secure with a home and children at good schools. Another orphan who came from a very depressed area, with no financial or social support whatsoever, is with the intervention of Frontline, well on his way to carving out a career for himself. And there are many stories like this. It is almost guaranteed that without this support, these young people would have ended up in menial jobs or no employment at all – or worse.

It is heartening to report that 19 of the young children who were chosen for this bursary program, now work at the Durban Music School as full time educators earning salaries that are commensurate to any other music teacher’s salary. One young man who shows incredible promise, is a tuba player and who now occupies a position in management. He oversees all the outreach programs to primary schools and is being trained as a conductor. Next year he will be sitting an advanced conductors exam through Royal School of London and once qualified, will be able to conduct anywhere in the world. And as there is a growing need for good conductors, he will certainly be most sought after. Another young girl was given a saxophone bursary, with her schooling and university education paid for by the Paw-Paw Foundation. Her mother died when she was 15 and thereafter, she suffered horrendous abuse from her father. Thankfully she was rescued from her circumstances. Her boarding school was paid for by the foundation including transport to her brother’s home in Johannesburg, for the holidays. When she was 18, tragically her brother was stabbed and killed and she then had to take care of herself. She is an exceptionally intelligent young lady and we are happy to report that today, she has her own events company and furthermore, plays the saxophone in an up and coming band.

About twelve years ago, the Paw-Paw Foundation took an interest in a place of safety in Durban North and identified 3 young children (two girls and a boy) between the ages of 11 and 13 who they decided to help. Sadly despite their very best efforts, the boy was too badly traumatised and addicted to drugs and after a few years, he decided to go back to the streets. The girls, however, embraced the opportunities they were given – despite having undergone some extremely traumatic and abusive experiences. One of the girls who had in particular suffered horrendous abuse, has the most amazing spirit and has become a remarkable woman. She is now employed at the Durban Music School as the Student Coordinator and Arts Administrator, and also plays the saxophone. She is busy studying a Business Management degree through Unisa, as well as an Arts Administrator diploma through the DAC. The other young girl studied to be a Social Worker and has a very good job with the South African Police Force, plus she is an excellent clarinet player.

The Paw-Paw Foundation impacts over two hundred children living in Umlazi and Ntazuma areas by transporting their young educators who have been through the bursary program, to schools in these two townships on a weekly basis. Their young musicians are giving back to their communities by teaching music to primary school children. The circle is complete!

The Durban Music School is also situated in Albert Park district and is one of the worst areas in South Africa. Two years ago, the SAPS reported this area as the worst in SA – even when compared to Hillbrow or Khayelitsha. There are more rapes, murders, gangs and prostitutes here than anywhere else in such a small region. There are many children in the area and many of them are street children. The Paw-Paw Foundation wanted to positively impact these children lives and so they started the U21 Church (for youngsters up to the age of 21).

Frontline finances this church, as it doesn’t ask for tithes, nor does it receive funding from any other source. Over 80 children regularly attend the services and through this Church, the foundation tries to be family to them and take an interest in both their home and school life as well as being their voice when they need to speak to officials. One very young boy was a Wonga addict. Through much perseverance, he has been helped to overcome the drug and now has a leadership position within the church. Another young girl who had no parental support, her father currently imprisoned in a Zambian jail and her mother, sadly a street person whom she never sees. Without proper support, this young girl and her younger siblings would have landed up on the streets. Through Frontline’s donations they have been provided with rent, food, transport and school fees. The foundation have also become their unofficial guardians and positive results are already showing! She is a very bright and intelligent young 16 year old who now hopes to become a lawyer one day!

The Paw-Paw Foundation’s aim is to try and get children off the streets in the afternoons and give them a place of safety where their voices are heard and they are made to feel special. A chess club was then founded to run in Albert Park and presently has about 40 children coming for lessons every afternoon. Many of these children are street children and they love to be part of this club. Recently we a team was entered to participate in the eThekwini League and came second out of 38 teams – an extraordinary achievement! The person who teaches the chess club also happens to be a beneficiary of Paw-Paw Foundation who began supporting him a number of years ago when he wanted to establish his own non-profit organisation called ‘The House of Hlonipha’. He and a friend of his operate in Albert Park and also teach soccer, netball and feed local street children.

The Paw-Paw Foundation comes alongside a number of smaller charity organisations providing support in many forms. One such organisation is the Sbusisiwe Children’s Home in Inchanga and is run by an amazing woman named Theresa Gwala. She has opened her home to orphans and now takes care of more than 20 children. The foundation has been supporting her for many years, upgrading and furnishing her home, planting Ziphakele Gardens (vegetable gardens) and giving her financial support. Furthermore, 16 of her children have received music education through the Durban Music School and many have been given diplomas to add to their CV’s. Theresa always says that without the weekly food donation that comes from Frontline, the children and care givers at the home would not survive. At the end of November every year, a huge Christmas party is given so that each orphan may be gifted with new shoes, stationery, clothing, toiletries and a treat to brighten their lives.

One of the informal orphanages the Paw-Paw Foundation supports is based in Cato Ridge and called Hope Farm. Run by a wonderful couple who opened their home to orphans, they now have 7 children that they have adopted. Their aim is to become self-sufficient and move off the grid completely. Over many years The Paw-Paw Foundation have supported them and recently, bought them bee hives which they use to make and sell honey to supplement their income. They are also used as a safe home by Social Services and help children find foster and adoptive families.

For many a year the Bride of Christ organisation in Hammersdale has been supported. It is run by a ‘living saint’ named Justice Mvelase. He is involved in helping hundreds of orphaned children and youths with life skills and other practical activities like getting ID documents, opening bank accounts, drawing up CV’s, HIV and drug awareness workshops and more. He also feeds and clothes many orphans in this area. Twenty-eighteen brought about a big drive to collect food, clothes, blankets, stationery, kitchen appliances and medicine for all the people he helps and the response received was tremendous. At the year’s end, parcels were made up and distributed by Justice to approximately 200 orphans.

A monthly donation is given to two projects in Port Elizabeth, which are dear to Frontline’s heart. The first is a feeding scheme at the Môrewag Primary School, which helps feed children who are not getting breakfast at home, thereby helping in their ability to concentrate during lessons. The second is a squash club which encourages young people to play squash and keeps them off the streets in the afternoons.

These are but a few of the thousands of people whose lives are touched, changed and empowered through the generous donation that Frontline Underwriting Managers makes monthly.

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