Only the good news

2016-10-12 06:00
 Thandanani Children’s Foundation director Duncan Andrew (left) and CEO of ‘South Africa: the Good News’. Steuart Pennington.PHOTO: supplied

Thandanani Children’s Foundation director Duncan Andrew (left) and CEO of ‘South Africa: the Good News’. Steuart Pennington.PHOTO: supplied

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STEUART Pennington, South Africa’s most famous good news ambassador, is to speak at the Thandanani Children’s Foundation Open Day on Friday, 14 October.

For Pennington NGOs are a source of some of the country’s best, but often overlooked, “good news” stories.

How did it start?

In 2002, Pennington attended a farewell dinner party for a couple about to emigrate to Australia. When the conversation turned to how “bad” things were in South Africa. Pennington became frustrated. He wanted to defend his country, but lacked the facts and figures needed to do so.

It was a major turning point

The next day Pennington took a sabbatical from his day job at his corporate strategy consulting company to research and produce a book called South Africa - the Good News.

It was the first of 10 such books and marked the beginning of a new life path for Pennington during which he has consistently pursued what he calls an “informed narrative” about South Africa to counter the “conventional wisdom madness” that drives the belief that South Africa is the “worst in the world” for everything.

During this time, Pennington has delivered over 570 talks in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In the NGO sector, Pennington says he has come across an abundance of good news stories.

“People know what’s happening at the top [where the power is] and the bottom [where the worst case scenarios emerge and get disproportionate media coverage], it’s what’s happening in the middle layer that no one is looking at – and that’s where the NGO sector and civil society operates.”

One of these untold stories, he believes, is that of Thandanani Children’s Foundation, the Pietermaritzburg based NGO founded in 1989 to support orphaned and vulnerable children in the Midlands.

Thandanani works with 450 to 500 families like Xolani’s each year. This amounts to approximately 1 600 children and 1 400 adults annually.

Since April 2010, the organisation has provided support to over 10 000 beneficiaries through its family strengthening programme and has provided health screening and testing services to over 55 000 people in the past five years.

“Like so many NGOs, Thandanani has some amazing success stories,” said Pennington. - Supplied.

If you would like to attend the Thandanani Open Day, contact Jess on
072 229 9406 or email

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