The faces of Cheesekids

2012-07-14 14:51

In 2007 a group of middle-class youngsters with a passion for SA got together to use their privileged backgrounds for the greater good. They formed Cheesekids, and started building houses and painting schools, and in the process made giving a cool thing to do
SadeSavings (26), Account Executive

It was growing up in a single-parent family in ­Woodlands, Pietermaritzburg, whereSade learnt about giving. Her family was part of a close-knit community that didn’t have much, but whatever they had, they shared.

Today, her life is a far cry from the one she lived in her hometown.

As a key account manager for brandhouse, an alcohol marketing company, Sade lives a life filled to the brim with possibilities.

But she hasn’t forgotten where she comes from.

As a Cheesekids for Humanity guardian, Sade plays a crucial role in making surethe voluntary youth organisation’s events run smoothly.

Her friends were initially puzzled – apart from a full-time employment, she was ­also studying, leaving her with little time for socialising, let alone philanthropy.

But Sade, who is also a counsellor for psychological support organisation LifeLine, was adamant to put her degree in psychology to good use.

Tamsyn Egnos (33),
Marketing Manager
Even before Cheesekids was born, Tamsyn was building houses with her friends on weekends.

She joined Habitat for Humanity, which allows ordinary ­people with no experience in construction to build houses in areas that need them desperately.

Born and bred in the leafy suburbs of ­Johannesburg, King David-educated youngsters like Tamsyn did not have many opportunities to see how the other – poorer – half lives.

“It was an opportunity to speak to people you would never ordinarily speak to.”

Today Tamsyn is a trustee for Cheesekids, which now has activities in Durban and Cape Town.

What makes Cheesekids work, she says, is “everyone knows somebody. Cheesekids allows people to pool resources.”

Tamsyn is the marketing manager for fashion label Guess and is married with two kids.

Odwa Noah (36), Architect
Odwa was an education refugee long before Helen Zille or Twitter came along.

He moved to Cape Town from Mthatha as a toddler.

After matriculating, Odwa studied architecture at the University of Cape Town, where he met Cheesekids founder Shaka Sisulu.

“He roped me in because Cheesekids was expanding into Cape Town and he needed someone who knew the place,” says Odwa.

Because Odwa is self-employed, he can balance his Cheesekids obligations with those of running his firm, Solun Concepts.

“There is that feel-good factor, where you can see the results of your efforts,” he says.

Kabomo (34), Singer

For Kabomo, life was not always about the glitz and glamour of being a top South African recording artist.

As a struggling singer and songwriter, Kabomo did not have a home or money for clothes and food.

“I would sleep on people’s couches. My friends would feed me and give me money for clothes. Without them I wouldn’t have survived,”

the Daveyton home boy, as he calls himself, remembers. Now he has been nominated for two South African Music Awards.

Kabomo made a pact with God: “I promise, when I get famous, I will never stop giving back.”

That opportunity came when his friend from school and Cheesekids founder Shaka Sisulu called him up.

At first he did what he does best – singing and dancing. But he later went along to refurbish a house.

They had the house looking like new in no time.

“You can’t just stand around looking pretty and doing the admin; you have to get your hands dirty.”

»To learn more about Cheesekids, visit To find out about today’s Mandela Day event, go to

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