Charlize comes to town

2018-07-20 07:35
Hollywood star Charlize Theron was in Pietermaritzburg visiting one of her charities, Dlalanathi in Sweetwaters. She spent the day with school pupils listening to some of the challenges they face in their communities.

Hollywood star Charlize Theron was in Pietermaritzburg visiting one of her charities, Dlalanathi in Sweetwaters. She spent the day with school pupils listening to some of the challenges they face in their communities. (Nicholas Pinnoy, The Witness)

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Hollywood actress Charlize Theron swept quietly into Sweetwaters in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday to visit the beneficiaries of Dlalanathi, an organisation supported by her Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP).

"I always try to come on [charity] field trips at least once a year and I never consider these visits as work or part of my job; it's just part of my human condition," said Theron.

Dlalanathi operations director Robyn Hemmens said the organisation focuses on youth and community development using play to strengthen relationships between adults and children.

PIC: Charlize Theron spotted at Obama's Nelson Mandela lecture

The multi-award-winning actress and officials from CTAOP visited the rural area of KwaNxamalala, Sweetwaters, where they spent the day interacting and listening to challenges facing young people there.

The youngsters, from Laduma, Phayiphini and Mashaka high schools, tackled topics such as rape, teenage pregnancy and substance abuse and spoke of how to deal with these social ills.

Privilege

Theron said she felt "privileged" to have access to young people as it helped her understand some of the obstacles they face, and how she could try to play a small role in trying to make it a little easier for them.

"It's very easy for one to get stuck in one's little bubble so it's important for me to step out and see what is really happening in the world, even though it means being away from my children but I know that I enrich my children when I come back and share these stories with them."

She said growing up she was fortunate that her mother always instilled in her that it was her duty to take care of other people and "especially those without voices: children and animals".

Theron said her charity supports nine grassroots charities in South Africa. "Our focus is South Africa because it is the hardest hit country. We make up one percent of the world's population, yet we make up 20% of the Aids population. I work with the UN and organisations like the Global Fund as it gives us a bigger stage to talk about such issues and try to address them from all angles, especially from grassroot levels.

"Like former US president Barack Obama said, 'you have to work from the ground up'."

Relationships

Rachel Rozentals-Thresher, Dlalanathi's CEO, said the significance of Thursday's event was for CTAOP to strengthen its relationship with Dlalanathi and the youngsters supported by the organisations.

"We have had a relationship with the CTAOP for a very long time. The core work of Dlalanathi is relationships, so it is important for everyone involved to have both the personal and the systematic relationship.

"What we value about CTAOP is that they are really significantly interested in building a relationship with this organisation and are interested in the work we do.

"The goal for today is to honour and respect the youth and hear what they have to say.

"Today is not about Dlalanathi or the CTAOP but it's about what needs to shift and change," said Rozentals-Thresher.

'The more you talk the more power you have'

While engaging with the youth on Thursday on the topic of substance abuse, Theron shared how she too, had problems as a young girl understanding her alcoholic father.

"I grew up thinking my dad was a bad person and only learnt later that he was actually a sick man and needed help, he wasn't a bad person.

"I always encourage young people to speak about their challenges and not hide what they go through under a rock, the more you talk the more power you have over the situation," she said.

Theron has previously revealed some of the details of her family's harrowing experience dealing with her father's addiction, including how her mother shot and killed her father in self-defence when Theron was just 15 years old.

Read more on:    charlize theron  |  pietermaritzburg

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