A Heart of Gold, a Summer of Giving
By Hein Kaiser
Khopotso Nakin is an incredible person. She started the New Life Centre for Girls on a wing and a prayer over a decade ago. Her conviction to save young girls from sexual exploitation and abuse is absolute and she has rescued dozens from the clutches of drugs, poverty and prostitution. But it is not easy, she said, and right now the home is facing one of its largest crises ever. The premises that New Life Centre for Girls has been using for almost five years is being sold to a developer, and Nakin along with almost 20 girls have to find alternative accommodation.
Nakin said: "Our landlord has been very good to us, allowing the centre to set up on his property for an extended period of time, but it seems as if the property might be sold to developers, and we'd have to move out soon." She said that the Midrand property is on the market for R 3,5 million, a number that's unaffordable to the centre. "If we cannot purchase the home, we'd have to find alternative accommodation to continue our work," a stressed Nakin said. "We have nowhere to go, right now, we need help."
As part of its summer campaign, Cell C stepped in recently to assist New Life Centre for Girls through what Nakin called "some of its darkest days" with a sizeable contribution that serviced the vehicle she uses to take learners to school, buy groceries and run errands. "We are so appreciative of the assistance." The company also donated food, toiletries and other essentials. "There are few companies who show the kind of commitment Cell C has," she said. Staff have even return-visited New Life Centre for Girls several times, many in their personal capacity too.
Cell C's Summer Campaign is giving away more than R30 million in prizes to its customers this year but, while winning is great, customers who win the vehicles in the grand prize also get to select a charity or goodwill organisation where the mobile operator then steps in, assesses needs together with the charity, and contributes on behalf of the winner. Cell C's ,Chief Commercial Officer, Simo Mkhize said: "It's about coming together as a country, especially after what we have been going through as a nation over the past two years." The company is using its two-decade milestone to drive a notion of solidarity between people and reinforce a sense of care amongst South Africans.
"The sum of the collective creates the whole," said Mkhize who added that sharing an opportunity to give to less fortunate South Africans with its customers is also fundamental to Cell C's ethos. "The past few years has seen the world turned upside down and life has not been easy. So many people have lost their jobs, their ability to survive, and yet there are organisations like New Life Centre for Girls that make these immense contributions to society and taking care of those in need. Efforts like Khopotso's don't just deserve more recognition, but as much assistance as possible, from as many people as possible."
Nakin said that former household members, girls that have been rescued, educated and graduated, often visit the centre to pay it forward. "They inspire the girls and show them that it is possible to leave behind life on the streets," said Nakin who adds that they continue to contribute towards the next generation of survivors who grow into becoming successful individuals. "But it is expensive to maintain the centre, to look after a growing number of children that have been exploited, and to reintegrate them into a normal way of living." Nakin said that if it was not for companies like Cell C, the centre would be in dire straits.