A passion for helping others

2011-10-20 00:00

PASSIONATE about people, and determined to see them emerge from the poverty cycle and improve their quality of life. That’s how Faye Gey van Pittius, sales and marketing officer for Project Gateway, describes the Pietermaritzburg non-governmental organisation (NGO) based at The Old Prison in Burger Street.

“We are a community-upliftment NGO… [and] focus mainly on three core areas — education, empowerment and care,” she added. “Among other things, we feed over 10 000 people per month, have a night shelter, and educate people about HIV/Aids, TB and general hygiene. We also help if there is a pregnancy crisis, and give home-based caring where we can.

“We are passionate about people, and work to see them move out of the poverty cycle and improve their quality of life. We have a Christian primary school on site, which accommodates more than 380 children, and there are two boarding houses for those who need it.

“And, as part of our empowerment sector, we have a fashion school, computer courses and a craft course educating in marketing and life skills, to local crafters and business owners.”

This year, Project Gateway celebrates its 20th anniversary, and to mark the occasion it will be hosting a gala dinner at 6.30 pm for 7 pm on October 29, during which Dr Vincent Maphai will deliver the keynote address.

Maphai has, since March 2009, been the executive director of corporate affairs and transformation at SAB Limited, and was previously chairperson of BHP Billiton Southern Africa.

He graduated from Unisa with a BA degree in 1975, studied at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, where he completed a bachelor of philosophy cum laude in 1976, before doing a Master’s degree in philosophy magna cum laude in 1978 at the same university.

He also holds a PhD from the University of Natal, an honours degree in international politics from Unisa, and has completed an advanced management programme at Harvard University.

His academic career spans over two decades at universities in South Africa and abroad, and for three years he was research executive director at the Human Sciences Research Council. He has held fellowships at universities of Oxford, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford, and from 1996 to 1998, he was professor extraordinaire in the department of political science at Unisa.

Other posts include chairperson of the Presidential Review Commission, a body set up by then-president Nelson Mandela to investigate government restructuring and service delivery; council chairperson of the University of KwaZulu-Natal; chairperson of the National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) and a commissioner on the National Planning Commission.

In addition to Maphai’s talk, there will be a performance by Pietermaritzburg contemporary dancer Bonwa Mbontsi, one of the top 16 contestants in the last series of So You Think You Can Dance, and a launch for Miracles in the Making, a book documenting the last 20 years of Project Gateway’s work.

Tickets for the gala dinner are R120, and can be booked with Faye at 033 845 0400.

• Project Gateway also conducts tours of the prison — explaining how it has changed and what used to take place during the apartheid years. This tour includes seeing the Mahatma Gandhi cell where the Indian leader is said to have been imprisoned. Inquiries: www.project gateway.co.za

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