Mandela Day: Protein, vegetables and love

The head office team went to Home from Home in Khayelitsha as part of the Mandela Day initiative. We were split up into teams and went to visit 7 homes. We went armed with soup, rolls and some desert treats.

The team was warmly welcomed by the staff from Home from Home and we were given more information about the organization. Chris brought his family along to do their bit on Mandela Day. Althea also brought her puppy which got all the love and attention from the kids. 

Home from Home is an NPO that provides support and supervised community-based foster care for; orphaned, abused, neglected and vulnerable children within the community. They have a small unit family structure headed up by house mothers or parents with no more than six children. If you would like to find out more about the organisation you can go to their website 

The day was a success and it is good to be involved with other organisations doing good within their communities.

To view more pictures you can got to our Facebook Page.

Understanding the Differences Between Civil Society and Civil Society Organisations

Within the South African context there seems to be a lot of confusion about who civil society is and what it means. The term is often used loosely, which just deepens the confusion. 

In my opinion though, all of us are civil society. There is a view that business people and politicians are not civil society, but they are. None of us are defined by our work and so within our personal capacity, we all make up the society of South Africa. 

Where civil society is organised though, it becomes a civil society organisation (CSO). Despite the terms ‘civil society’ and ‘CSOs’ often being used synonymously, there is a fundamental difference between the two, which many of us fail to understand. CSOs are defined as organised civil society and can come in many forms, some informal and some as formal entities such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), CBOs, faith-based organisations (FBOs), among many others. This is when a group of individuals come together for a common purpose, as in to fulfil a particular mandate driven by need.

CSOs have a constituency, as they have a clientele/beneficiaries whom they serve and ideally should represent that clientele. As such, it is very disturbing to see how many purport to be representing the views of civil society when in fact civil society has no idea what their mandate is. This is because no matter how well-intended the effort is, if people do not know or understand the mandate being served when ‘civil society’ is represented – then we in the sector are guilty of what we often accuse government of doing – imposing plans on people rather than facilitating a space in which people can make their own informed decisions.

A member of civil society represents their own views. It is very presumptuous of anyone to claim to represent the view of another as we often see. This does nothing but delegitimise the work done by CSOs and should be guarded against. Purporting to represent the view of all South Africans when failing to give people an understanding of what it is being referred to is very demeaning and can be dangerous as it further strips away the voice and dignity that represent civil society. But I have not the faintest clue what they are harping on and on about and yet they claim to be representing my views.

Many are sceptical of the work being done by CSOs, believing the sector to be self-serving and even at times, perpetuating the cycle of social exclusion under the guise of ‘making a difference’. This is a direct result of not differentiating between representing ‘civil society’ and a CSO representing a particular constituency of civil society. By virtue of seeking accountability from government and business, CSOs should hold themselves to the highest standards and this includes ensuring that no error is made about who and what CSOs represent.

Koketso Moeti is part of the Activate! Change Drivers network. To get in touch with her e-mail alternatively, refer to 

This article was first published by NGO Pulse.

Activator Story: Puppet Show

Activator Thabang Tshabalala shares his story of how the first year training has inspired him.

During module 2 we did puppet show and I just told myself on the spot that I’m going to do this with kids when I go back home and also as I’m going to USA. I saw the puppet making and puppet show as a good thing to bring kids together and to bring out the kids creativity. I believe that some of them will realize that they have talent/skills in acting or sharing a dialogue in a different ways because really after the show we saw most of the kids who were quiet most of the time talking and having fun and leading the dialogue. I’m happy that I got that chance to schedule puppet making in the camp schedule as I’m a Program Coordinator at this camp.

I’m using each and every tool I get from Activate to help me in my job here in USA. I have used the washing line tool with my team I’m working with here and it helped us a lot. Being able to bring something new at the camp has made me realize that Activate came in my life at a right time were I needed them.

I hope all Activators are using the tools they get from Activate as I’m planning to host a Life Skills camp this coming December 2012 or March 2014 during School Holidays if things goes according to the plan, where I’m going to take Boys who are doing drugs (Nyaope) to a weekend or 5 days residential camp.

To get hold of Thabang you can email him at

Related Stories:

Activator Story: Mokgadi Matlakala

Activator Mokgadi takes us on a journey through her community as she explains how her community has shaped her. 

The Possibility of the “Funding Crisis”

The words ‘competition’ and ‘competitive’ are increasingly being used to address the non-profit sector, something which should both shame and alarm us all. As a sector, irrespective of our different areas of focus, our collective mandate is to facilitate an environment which uplifts human lives and we should not be competing to do that. Instead, we should be looking for ways to support each other in the achievement of this collective mandate.

Rather than reacting to the so-called ‘funding crisis’ by competing with each other for resources, we should be taking proactive measures not to protect our organisations, but rather those whom we serve. It is an opportunity to discover an alternative way of doing things, one that does not create a spirit of dependency in South African civil society organisations (CSOs).

This can be achieved by pooling resources as may be necessary, including human capital. Collaboration need not be on a huge scale, it can be with simple things like an organisation having more stationery than they need and sharing with another. It is from these little acts that we will be starting a process of creating networks of support for each other and by so doing, maximising the impact of a sector as a whole.

This will not only have a positive impact on those whom we serve, but it will also protect the integrity of the sector. Too many organisations are so focused on the quest for resources that the mere existence of the organisation has come to transcend the actual needs which brought it into existence in the first place. Apart from this, the scramble for resources have left many organisations compromised as they sacrifice their mandates in exchange for donor driven ones- which are not always in the best interests of those being served.

I call on the sector to forget the ‘funding crisis’ and rather accept this as a chance to re-imagine and re-create not only the way we do things, but also our society in general. In the creation of a less reactive and more proactive sector, we will be setting an example not only to those whom we serve; but also those whom we often call to order for their compromised integrity. This in turn will create CSOs which “walk the talk” we so often preach and will be the greatest contribution we can make in strengthening civil society in South Africa.

Koketso Moeti is part of the Activate! Change Drivers network. To get in touch with her e-mail alternatively, refer to 

This article was first published by NGO Pulse.

Dialogue: Do We Have A Culture Of Drinking?

A part of the training programme Activators are taught how to run a dialogue session. There was live tweet session when the Gauteng group was practicing running a dialogue session. This is what they had to say about whether South African have a culture of drinking.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Paperboy – Postboxes for Everyone

Information that’s not transmitted to its recipients is futile in a communication link. I have noticed that a lot of households in my community don’t have post boxes, and this in turn results in a number of letters and responses from the post office and relevant stakeholders getting lost in transition.

Primary school students who come back from school earlier are seen loitering around the streets with flying letters roaming all over which they pick up when the intended recipients are at work. I have taken it upon myself to build post boxes for my community to eradicate this problem. I would need relevant materials to build them and I can work from home. I live in a large community especially now with the recent RDP houses that have been built but I would like to pilot with at least 1584 houses in my section.

This will lead to job creation and community development, and this will also save the post office a lot on duplicate distribution costs and the community at large on getting their invoices and notices on time. This can trickle down to other communities with the same problem.

To contact Mpumi you can email him at or you can follow him on Twitter @MpumiMali

Township Roots Project

What is township roots all about? 

Township Roots exists to improve education in Nyanga, Cape Town. Through our programs we aim to help the young people of Nyanga stay out of crime and stay in school, all the way through primary and high-school and into university. 

Right now Nyanga has some challenges. 

•  The annual dropout rate of students in grades 1-8 is between 1% and 4%. Between grades 9 – 11 this grows to 12%. 

In response to this we focus our efforts on children moving from primary school into secondary school. We believe that if we can keep kids in school, we can keep them out of crime. 

What do we do? 

Township Roots runs exciting educational and life skills activities for kids aged 12-16 in Nyanga community after school hours, over weekends and during school vacations. Our young people are mentored both academically and socially to enhance their chances of succeeding in high school. We also partner our kids up with mentors – successful people from Nyanga who are eager to invest in the next generation. We even engage the parents of Nyanga, holding regular community meetings to pursue a vision of hope and opportunity. 

Our Plan 

How much does it cost us to run Township Roots for 40 students? 

We invite sponsors to select the area that they would like to support directly. 

T-shirts for the Learners R4000 

Marketing Banners R1400 

Refreshments for the Learners R2000 

Tutor Support – Transport for tutors R1500 

End of Year Excursion R7000 

Our financial accounts are audited each year by Spark* International. 

(We keep our operating costs as low as possible, and receive strategic, financial and operational support from Spark* International)

from here… 

We are eager to talk with forward thinking South African companies and organisations who would like to partner with us in our vision for Nyanga. 

By investing in the young people of the community, we can work together to turn Nyanga around in a generation. 

We look forward to sharing more with you. Please contact us at the following details: 

Phone: +27812522375 



Liesbeek River Clean-up

Activator Peter Atmore organised a clean-up operation of the Liesbeek River. He managed to get 20 volunteers with the Mowbray, Rosebank and Observatory area. Peter talks about the clean-up operation. 

It was evident that this section of the river needed cleaning, but the extent of the work required was not realised, thankfully we had an enthusiastic team that were willing to get their hands dirty. Thirty-five bags of rubbish where plucked from the waterway in just two hours, leaving the banks garbage free! Everyone who took part enjoyed themselves, made new friends and learnt the value of keeping our rivers clean. A definite sense of community was present, and a realisation that this river belongs to us! 

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved, it was extremely daunting putting together an event as such, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the joint community of Mowbray, Rosebank and Observatory. For those who missed out, we will definitely have another event soon so keep an eye out!

To contact Peter you can email him on or tweet him @PeterAtmore

Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs

Activator Calvin has embarked on a project to document African entrepreneurs. He explains the reasons behind the project and why he feels that it is necessary.

Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneur is a documentary series that comprises of profiles and in depth interviews with some of Africa’s greatest entrepreneurs. These are entrepreneurs who have emerged across Africa from different backgrounds. The purpose of this documentary is to highlight how Africa is able to produce influential entrepreneurs.

For the first time ever these inspirational true stories are captured in one single documentary, we aim to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and truly embrace our own African Entrepreneurs and what they have to share with the World.

Africa has always celebrated Western entrepreneurs and looked up to them for inspiration; the time has come for Africa to celebrate Africans.  With all the challenges that our continent is facing there have been few people who were able to rise above this challenges. These individuals, we feel, need to celebrated and embraced for their success. We also believe that it is important for them to share their knowledge about their philosophies and world views.Our aim is to create a documentary that will inspire a continent.

To get hold of Calvin you can email him or you can follow him on Twitter @Calvinmakhubela.

The Social Entrepreneurship Incubator Model

Activator Thabang has been hosting a few idea sessions in Joburg. At the beginning of the month he held a Dragons’ Den/ ideas festival. He explains how the session was structured and what the outcomes were.

On the 8th of June, Ulwazi Resource organized The Dragons’ Den/ideas festival, a space where Activators presented projects they had come up with and thorough scrutiny and critic – Judges selected the winning and runner-up projects for the day.Dragons’

Den/Ideas Festival: is a space where the selected projects are presented to a panel of judges (comprising of well-esteemed personnel from various industries and professions) and after thorough scrutiny and critic – judges will select the winning and other runner-up projects for the day.

As the projects are presented, the judges not only offered critic and feedback – but also provided feasible follow-up support to the relevant project, this included linkage with other partners in the similar industry, organized and sponsored business training, and any other resources that will see to it that the projects are escalated.

13 Activators and 2 project teams presented their projects on the day, their projects comprised of:   

  • Environment management   
  • Feeding Schemes at Basic Education  
  • Possible improvements to SA Education System 
  • Responding to dangers/ accidents resulting from lit candles
  • Society view of youth development as part of overall community development      
  • Unemployment amongst graduates   
  • Wide gap of inequality in the distribution of education tools and resources 

The prizes included

  • Business simulation for all the projects with Business Education Design at the value of 40000 for a one day workshop  
  • An opportunity to attend an Youth in Entrepreneurship Camp month end
  • Kellogg Sponsored Gifts 
  • Regenesys Business School Founder books and give away’s 
  • Mentorship with the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller  
  • Wits Business School access to research and resources

Thabang hopes to host these sessions throughout the country. To get hold of Thabang you can email him or Tweet him @ThabangMabuza

Activate! Exchange – Johannesburg

Activate!Exchange Media Release 11 June 2013

Youth Leaders Take Up the Challenges Facing South Africa with launch of Activate!Exchange in Johannesburg

“We must re-ignite the spirit of 1976 and again stand united as one to make the change our country needs at this time.”This was the rallying cry across the board as young leaders from developmental NGO, Activate!Change Drivers and stakeholders from public, private and other non-governmental sectors, collectively renewed their commitment to confronting South Africa’s challenges at the launch of the first Activate!Exchange in Johannesburg at the Women’s Goal at Constitution Hill today (11 June 2013).

Representing some of the 800 young social entrepreneurs and projects that are currently being supported by the national network, the Activators used this forum held in the run up to Youth Day on 16 June, to highlight the issues facing young South Africans, including the fact that 70% of the unemployed are under the age of 34 as quoted by President Jacob Zuma recently.

Participating in the event’s panel discussion on the role that business can play in supporting young people to bring about social change, Ben Kodisang, Managing Director of financial services group, Stanlib made an appeal to the business sector to find innovative ways contribute to improving South Africa’s education performance. 

“We know that more than sixty percent of the unemployed do not have matric. Stanlib has therefore focused its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) single-mindedly behind education. Our programmes include subsidising university graduates that can offer supplementary Mathematics and English teaching in schools where this is required and where, as a result of the intervention, we’ve seen a marked improvement.”

Over the past 18 months, the company has also rolled out a financial literacy programme that to date has reached more than 30 000 learners from 200 of some of the most previously disadvantaged schools across the country.

 Activator, Calvin Makhubela, participating in the same discussion, endorsed the idea of business finding innovative ways in which to participate in skills and knowledge transfer to young people, including the importance of mentorships.Bernice Hlagala, Head of Youth in The President’s Office, reiterated that government understands that the success of its youth development interventions lies in working with other sectors and volunteers.

The Presidency is taking great responsibility for youth development which has led to the establishment of the Presidential Youth Working Group (PYWG) – a multi sector forum that will afford the President an opportunity to interact with the relevant stakeholders in the youth development space. 

Hlagala said that the PYWG has identified increase economic participation, education and skills development, the professionalization of youth service providers, substance abuse and violence prevention and a national youth service as its critical focus areas.
According to Activate! Chief Executive Officer, Chris Meintjes,  Activate is a network of young leaders known as Activators, who are all actively involved with projects to drive positive change at grass roots level across South Africa. “The distinguishing feature of all these Activators is their ability to mobilise and to engineer innovative and positive transformation in their communities and the country as a whole.”

Activate! systematically supports and builds the entrepreneurial capacity of these Activators through a three-year process. “Activate! Exchange came about through the necessity to establish connections through a working platform for on-going dialogue, and discussion between Change Drivers who have ideas and initiatives and thought leaders who have experience.  By meshing these two together we can provide the right fertile ground that will contribute to the network and its initiatives to grow and flourish,” he concluded 

Applications for acceptance into the 2014 Activate! in-take will open in July 2013. For more information about Activate! And Activate! Exchange go to www. 

Related Links

Lunch Box Project

“We are looking at the high number of learners who come from disadvantaged backgrounds to school without having eaten breakfast or without a snack for lunchtime. We see a decline in the number of children who queue for food that has been prepared for them as they are sometimes teased for having to do so. And so, although the learners are hungry, they are too embarrassed to be seen queuing and would rather go hungry. The kitchen then ends up throwing away a lot of leftovers. This issue is known by school teachers and parents who have their kids receive food. I have come to an innovative idea: to design a conventional lunchbox to be carried by every learner at school. The significance of this Lunch Box is to have it produced specifically for the school with its emblem, and the name of the learner and grade with a variety of colours on it. This product will restore the school’s unity by having all learners carry their lunch box and eating at school. As the learners will all drop their lunch box at the kitchen while they are in classrooms, and when its lunch time they will just collect it and nobody will know who brought food from home and who didn’t.”

Terence on Shift

Terence was on Shift a programme that is broadcast on SABC 1. He was explaining what Activate! Change Drivers is all about.

Mhlanganisi on JoziFM

Activator Mhlanganisi was on JoziFM to talk about the Joburg Exchange which was held on the 11th of June 2013.

Activators Koketso and Pearl on SAFM

Activators Koketso and Pearl were on SAFM talking about the upcoming Joburg Exchange. 

Mhlanganisi on SAFM

Activator Mhlanganisi was on SAFM to talk about the National Youth Engagement on the National Development Plan is trying to achieve.

100in1Day Intervention

I came across the 100in1day movement through a workshop that was organised by Activate in partnership with 100in1day.

100in1Day was about connecting people around their dreams for their communities, city and society, and then playfully manifesting them together. The concept was that over 100 urban interventions were planned to take place in one day 25th May 2013. A civil action day where people took ownership of their city and created a better place to live.  

When we were given the opportunity as Activators to come up with questions that we have as individuals mine was “are you being heard?” It was inspired by the fact that many of us in our communities are speaking so loudly but no one hears us, that is how I feel, the nation knows the challenges we face and many turn a blind eye, for example Gangsterism, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, lack of support from our seniors etc. The issues that I have just listed above are things that teenagers in our communities get exposed to on a daily basis. There is no platform to allow the teenagers to share their views on South Africa, hence the intervention I came up with was to take photographs of teenagers with messages under the theme “Messages to my President”.

When I shared this idea with one of my colleagues to him it seemed quite unrealistic and heavy in content. But anyway the main reason I continued to develop the idea was that I am quite fascinated by challenging the status quo and getting involved in discussions which rather seem controversial.

I started by borrowing cameras from friends in order to take the pictures and I worked with a very committed friend, Masthembe Gontsana who is based in Khayelitsha F-section. I was not able to take more than 10 pictures because I am currently working fulltime. It is through the on-going support I got from Masthembe that he contributed a significant 30 photographs that I was able to print through Sponsorship from Fujifilm in Kenilworth from Suddy and I posted the photographs around Khayelitsha, where I grew up and where home is. The aim was to create awareness on what young people of the community have to say and to initiate dialogues among people.

Saturday 25th May was the day where more than 100 interventions were launched in and around Cape Town. On this day came with a new experience for me. I launched my intervention in Khayelitsha that is where I grew up. I have been involved in many community development initiatives but one thing that my intervention brought is that it was the first time that I took ownership of my community; it was the first time that I stood in front of young people and engaged with them on issues that affect us every day. Now that is an experience I will never forget because I witnessed the birth of a movement that I initiated myself and I am very proud that when I look back I can stand up and say “I did my part”.

Through reading the messages that were being written to the President allowed me to come to a realisation that as the youth of Khayelitsha we are very frustrated. While other young individuals might be fighting for job opportunities and University entrance, most of us from Khayelitsha are still fighting for basic needs and that is housing, sanitation, hygiene, poverty eradication and what is it that the president has in store to develop our youth? The list goes on.

The first step to letting the public know about my initiative and to hopefully get the messages to the President is that Phiri Cawa a journalist for a local newspaper called “Vukani” was there when I launched this project and he is going to publish and article for this initiative.

In future in expanding the project I will be looking at involving South African teenagers across all our provinces.

To read the article that appeared in Vukani click here. To see more pictures from the day you go to the Facebook Page. To watch the video of the day.

Agape Youth Movement

Activator Noko talks about the organisation he started with a group of people. Agape Youth MovementAgape Youth Movement (AYM) was established by a small group of eight young people in a Gauteng township called Soshanguve which is located in the northern side of Pretoria the capital city of the Republic of South Africa.

AYM was officially launched on the 24th of September 2010 at a park in Soshanguve Block TT. The organisation’s launch drew the attention of a large number of young people around the community. The purpose of the launch was to share a mammoth vision which grew to greater heights and also to impact the lives of both young and elderly people around South Africa. AYM considers itself as an agent of positive change. 

The organisation has now has over 21 members who are all young people based in Soshanguve. 

AYM is undergoing a long term project called Science Labs Project which is aimed at raising funds to build two state of the art science laboratories worth R1.1 Million that will benefit 5 schools around Soshanguve. Some of the projects we are doing include drug awareness campaigns, workshops for young people, and agricultural projects. 

To get more information about AYM you can go to their Facebook Page or email

Mhlanganisi on eTV Sunrise

Activator Mhlanganisi was involved in a discussion on eTV on “Do we (South Africans) take our freedom for granted?” What are your thoughts on this topic?