Heather Bellamy spoke with Greg Eland from Siyakholwa Development Foundation about the lives they're changing for good in South Africa.

Greg Eland
Greg Eland

Siyakholwa Development Foundation is a public benefit organisation, whose mission is to alleviate poverty by creating and managing sustainable projects that facilitate job creation and develop vibrant healthy communities for poor rural villages in South Africa. To find out more about their work and the social issues in South Africa, Heather Bellamy spoke with Greg Eland, the Fundraising, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager.

Heather: What is Siyakholwa?

Greg: Siyakholwa is a non-profit organisation that has a passion to empower people, families and communities to grow stronger and reach their God given potential in life. Our focus is on disadvantaged communities in South Africa and we are creating opportunities for the poorest of the poor in the most marginalised communities through job creation projects.

Heather: What does the name 'Siyakholwa' mean?

Greg: Siyakholwa means 'we believe.' At the heart of the name is that many people in the communities that we work in have no hope; they are discouraged and are really just longing for someone to come alongside and speak life, hope and purpose. So the word 'Siyakholwa' is significant because it speaks a real picture of hope and belief in people and in communities that we work in.

Heather: How long has the organisation been going for?

Dealing With Poverty And Unemployment In South Africa

Greg: It was established formally in 2001 and over the last 17 years has grown into a vibrant and successful organisation, empowering many people and I think in South Africa has become a house-hold name in the non-profit and social space.

Heather: Why was it started to begin with? Was there one particular need that was seen? What happened?

Greg: A number of things. Firstly Brian and Jeri du Plessis, who are the founders of the organisation, had a real encounter with Jesus Christ. Previously they had been atheists and very worldly people. Through their daughter Dale, they came to know the Lord. Secondly, through this encounter, God really touched their hearts and gave them a passion for people. They had only been saved for one year and they took early retirement because they wanted to go and serve and give something of who they were. They were compelled by the love and passion of Jesus.

I think thirdly, as they settled in Keiskammahoek and started working there, they saw the incredible brokenness of people and their lives; the poverty, unemployment and the HIV AIDS impact on the community, and they felt they had to do something about that.

Heather: Where does it operate now?

Dealing With Poverty And Unemployment In South Africa

Greg: Initially Siyakholwa Development Foundation started in the Eastern Cape, which is about 45KM north-west of King William's Town. It's a rural community surrounded by 37 villages on the foothills of Anatoly Mountains. But over the years it's grown; we now have an administration resource office in East London. We have eight sites in the Eastern Cape, and we now have a foot print in Johannesburg and in Cape Town as well.

Heather: What projects are you running?

Greg: We are running several different projects and it would take me quite a long time to go through each one, but maybe I could highlight a couple that we are focusing on.