Witnessing the educational deprivation of South African children is what inspired the late Anne Harris, Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris and philanthropist and businessman Dr. Bertie Lubner to establish education organisation Afrika Tikkun.
Founded just a year after South Africa had received its freedom in 1994, both Harris and Lubner set their sights on meeting the needs of children in South Africa.
But soon their vision evolved — into focusing on children’s development.
The change in focus also saw the organisation being renamed, from its previous name MaAfrika Tikkun.
“Our approach was refined and reformulated into the Cradle to Career 360° model,” says the organisation on its website. “This model was aimed at providing education, health, and social services to young people and their families through centres of excellence in South African townships.”
Over the years, the team behind the organisation saw the it grow from strength to strength — largely thanks to support driven by its first patron, the late statesman Nelson Mandela.
Thanks to the Netsurit Cape Town team for sponsoring Santa Shoeboxes for our Afrika Tikkun Children!— Netsurit (@Netsurit) November 26, 2018
The thing that inspired Mandela to want to unite with the organisation was reportedly the “miracle” he saw manifested in the work of the team.
“After a visit to a Tikkun project in Orange Farm in 1999, President Nelson Mandela said that he had ‘seen a miracle’ and offered to become the patron-in-chief,” explains the organisation.
Afrika Tikkun is driven by having sustainable programmes in communities that need help the most.
“Our main goal is to create a sustainable future for the youth of South Africa,” it said.
Five centres of excellence have been built in the areas around Gauteng, while another one in the Western Cape has also been built in 2005.
Give a child the gift of reading for Christmas.— Afrika Tikkun (@AfrikaTikkun) November 22, 2018
Donate a tablet to our Grade R classes, and we will use it to teach children reading, counting and tech. skills. Click Here for more information: : https://t.co/NS19ieMybK#christmaswithaconsciencepic.twitter.com/A36dlTnNe8
And its main objective is to provide holistic development for young people living in disadvantaged communities.
“We aim to empower young people by affording them the opportunity to receive gainful education, good health care, nutrition, and support for their families,” added the organisation. “In doing so, we equalise the playing field for unprivileged young people so that they have the same employment opportunities that privileged youth have.”
But the organisation’s ability to grow while impacting South African communities has seen their projects expand to have global reach.
Just one of the organisation’s initiatives, the Belron Training Centre, was born thanks to a 2016 partnership between Afrika Tikkun and international autoglass giant Belron.
The first centre, which has state-of-the-art training facilities, was built in a 100-year-old building in Braamfontein, rescued and rejuvenated by the organisation.
“This centre focuses on career development and giving young people the skills they need to enter the job market,” said Afrika Tikkun’s CEO Marc Lubner.
5.5 million children in South Africa are hungry. Many of the children who participate in Afrika Tikkun’s core programmes form part of this frightening statistic. Children in our ECD programme receive two healthy meals and two snacks each day. £3.00 will feed one child for one day pic.twitter.com/ECKAAWlIQw— Afrika Tikkun (@AfrikaTikkun) November 27, 2018
Lubner said the opening of the youth-friendly centre in December 2016 marked the integration of a formal skills development training facility into the Afrika Tikkun Cradle to Career 360° model.
The training centre, which includes two computer labs and two lecture rooms, has already played a crucial part in the lives of many young people, as well as the existence of the organisation.
Hundreds of children in all six centres benefit from the Nutrition and Food Security Programme run by the organisation with the help of supporters.
Lubner added that although Belron, a South African company, now operates in 34 countries across the globe, it hasn’t forgotten it roots.
“Belron started in Johannesburg and through the annual Spirit of Belron Triathlon it continues to give back to where it came from,” he said.
The organisation has won numerous awards since 2011, including the FW De Klerk Goodwill Award — presented in recognition of the organisations “wide range of programmes...to empower vulnerable children and young in South African townships,” according to De Klerk on presenting the award.
Throughout October and November, Global Citizen and Afrika Tikkun joined forces to engage young people in the movement to end extreme poverty, inspired by the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.
Over the two months, alumni of Afrika Tikkun’s programmes, and young people currently attending its career development programmes, were challenged to complete actions all focused on the mission to eliminate extreme poverty all around the world.
The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 is presented and hosted by The Motsepe Foundation, with major partners House of Mandela, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Nedbank, Vodacom, Coca Cola Africa, Big Concerts, BMGF Goalkeepers, Eldridge Industries, and associate partners HP and Microsoft.