Five years ago, Paul Talliard from Steenberg decided to turn over a new leaf. He stood up amongst 100 other men in a Cape Town soup kitchen and invited them to join him in changing their lives. A few agreed to join his cause, including a skilled carpenter, and the Hands of Honour organisation was born.Talliard founded Hands of Honour in Sonata Street, Steenberg five years ago with a vision to improve his area and uplift its residents. “In 2012, I entered the soup kitchen weighing only 55kg and battling a drug problem. I’m proud to say that I managed to turn my life around through Hands of Honour.”Now his organisation aims to address the root causes of two major problems: “In South Africa 60% of children under the age of four have zero access to early child development programmes and 66% of men under the age of 35 are unemployed,” he says.The team started building and selling different kinds of furniture, which culminated in the design and development of an award-winning interactive mobile classroom on wheels, called the Angel Book Nook. The product won an innovation award in the United States, earning them $10 000 to kickstart their business. So far, the Angel Book Nook initiative has benefited over 4500 learners across Cape Town. “Our shelves create a fun and engaging classroom experience for schools that can’t afford expensive facilities,” says Talliard. The NGO also facilitates an upskilling programme, which provides stable employment to dozens of men. The programme relies on donations of old or unused furniture that is repaired and refurbished before being sold via online classifieds site Gumtree. Claire Cobbledick, core business head of Gumtree, says: “We opened up a donations section on Gumtree just over two years ago, as more and more of our customers were posting ads asking for assistance in getting rid of unwanted goods. Since then, the section has thrived and a lot of good has been done. We would urge anyone hoping to get involved with a charity or looking for assistance within their community to place an advert.”Talliard has been recognised as a change maker in his community, and has received various accolades from the Western Cape government. V For more information on Hands of Honour call Paul Talliard on 021 824 1404.