StreetSmart SA, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the social integration and upliftment of street children has launched in Johannesburg and is rallying restaurants to become involved in helping to rebuild the lives of children at risk in the city.
(Top caption: Barbara Lenhard, Michelle McLean, Sarah Eccles and Ntokozo Mbuli)
“Most of the street children in South Africa end up on our streets as a result of poverty. We can’t change the socio-economic issues related to poverty, but a R5 donation to StreetSmart every time we eat in a restaurant can change the life of a child,” said Joanne Evans, Johannesburg business woman and chairman of the Johannesburg Committee of StreetSmartSA at the launch at the Saxon Hotel in Sandton.
Funds are raised by adding a voluntary R5 donation to each table’s bill at participating restaurants and since its inception in Cape Town in 2005 under the patronage of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, StreetSmart has raised a total of over R6 million.
The beneficiary selected for StreetSmart Johannesburg is Twilight Children. Established in 1983, the organisation works with children and young adults in an effort to integrate them into mainstream society by giving them skills, building their confidence and thereby enabling them to become valuable citizens.
“When I first joined StreetSmartSA founder Margi Biggs on the board way back in 2005 we kept talking about going national with this great concept. Thanks to her determination and dedication, and the money given to her for the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year Award, this is now becoming a reality. I am very excited that this is happening and am grateful to the team in Johannesburg for their passion to create a sustainable set up that will see many children benefit in the Gauteng province,” says Nils Heckscher, chairman of the StreetSmart SA Board.
At the time of the launch, six Johannesburg restaurants had already joined the StreetSmart initiative: Five Hundred at The Saxon, Qunu at The Saxon, Balata at The Fairway Hotel & Golf Resort, dw eleven -13, The Griffen Gastropub and Red Rabbit.
There are currently 68 StreetSmart restaurants running this worthy initiative in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Somerset West and Swellendam.
“StreetSmart is such a great and easy concept to do good. I wish that we can sign up more and more restaurants to join in this initiative,” adds Heckscher.
All the money raised is distributed to various organisations working with street children within the communities of participating restaurants. During 2012 alone, the StreetSmart initiative funded four social workers, one family reconstruction worker, one panel beating instructor and two aftercare teachers directly benefiting over 1 108 children through various beneficiary organisations in the greater Cape Town and Winelands area.
StreetSmart SA is a registered Public Benefit as well as a Non Profit Organisation and ensures that every cent donated by diners goes towards social and educational upliftment projects for street children. StreetSmart’s goal is to be part of the process of social normalisation and to encourage the public not to give money into the hands of a child as this keeps them on the streets. In essence, eating and donating at a StreetSmart restaurant is the responsible way to help a street child.
Part of a larger international endeavour, similar StreetSmart organisations run independently throughout the UK, San Francisco, Australia, New Zealand, Vancouver and recently launched in India.
Restaurants wanting to participate can contact StreetSmart at Tel: 021 418 0621, email [email protected], visit www.streetsmartsa.org.za or follow them on Twitter @StreetSmartSA.