“PASSING ON A BLESSING”
A few years ago a Durban business man, Paul Meyers, decided to give a portion of his company’s earnings to charity. The company, Frontline Underwriters (PTY) LTD put aside R 25 500.00 per month and paid different amounts into various charities accounts every month. Organizations like Durban Children’s Home, I Care, Save a Child, Tafta and others were given monies every month. After a couple of years Paul became frustrated with this and decided to start a foundation so that he could raise funds and make more of an impact on the lives of the people he was trying to help.
One day a co-worker, Zelda brought the most perfect paw-paw to work. She had been fascinated by this wonderful fruit that she had picked off her tree at home and felt she had to bring it into the office to show everybody how perfect it was. There wasn’t a mark on it, not a single blemish and even though it was a large fruit the birds had not made one hole in it. All day Paul was entranced with this beautiful paw-paw and by the end of the day Zelda said to him he must please take the paw-paw home seeing as he was fascinated. He was really happy and was looking forward to sharing the paw-paw with his family that evening. As he drove out of his office a beggar appeared at his window. Paul looked for some loose change to give him and for the first time in his life could not find a cent lying around in his car or in his wallet. He only had the incredible, delicious super fruit with him. He rolled down his window and gave the man the paw-paw, the blessing! The Paw-Paw Foundation was born and we have tried to pass on a blessing ever since.
Paul applied for non-profit organization status and the foundation is registered- number: 048-979-NPO.
At the start of last year he employed a young man, Charles Matthews to help him run the foundation. Charles is twenty three years old and has a heart for the poor and broken. He wants to help change peoples’ lives, especially children and give them a hope for a better future. Last year he went to Mozambique to help build a fence for an orphanage there. He is involved with a feeding scheme for the children’s home, Survivors and over Christmas organized 122 boxes of gifts to be given to children of various homes.
The Paw-Paw Foundation supports 14 charities at the moment and one of the main ambitions of its mission is to give people skills training so that they can empower themselves. With this in mind we have partnered with a woman in Inchanga, Sebenzile Gumede, who looks after approximately 50 orphans and children from destitute families. Many of these families are headed up by very young people. Sebenzile came to me at the end of last year and said she had been thinking very hard about what to do with all these children in the afternoons as this is when they get up to mischief. She realized that she needed to keep them busy but wanted them to do something constructive as well. She had decided that these children needed to learn to play a musical instrument. This would keep them busy and give them something to work towards to enrich their futures. Even if they don’t choose music as a career they could always earn money part time performing or teaching. We approached the Durban Music School and have 20 children on full bursaries taking music lessons. They are each given an instrument and receive a lesson once a week. Then they go home and practice every afternoon. We will also start teaching them theory once they have grasped the basics.
We have just started out on a new project we call the “Ziphakele Gardens”. These are vertical vegetable gardens that can be grown anywhere and need a limited amount of water.
Our prototype which we have set up at one of our children’s homes has been growing, from seedlings, for two months and has already started to produce vegetables.
We plan on taking the Garden’s all over Africa and setting up enough to feed whole villages while at the same time sustaining individual families.
These gardens are cost effective, space saving and water efficient it is for this reason that we plan to make these gardens our main objective for 2009.
Paul Myers– Charles Matthews
We realise we can’t change the world, but if we can change one life we can change their world.