Bryan Habana teams up with Princess Charlene of Monaco amid Covid-19

Bryan Habana (Photo: Getty Images)
Bryan Habana (Photo: Getty Images)

  • Bryan Habana has teamed up with the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation for the #strongtogether campaign.
  • Chantell Wittstock, the director of the foundation in South Africa, says by entering the challenge the public can help "save a life  – change a life".
  • Bryan says it's been a "massive, humbling privilege" to work with Princess Charlene.

Princess Charlene of Monaco has always been passionate about helping people, particularly those in her home country of South Africa.

Charlene Lynette Wittstock, born in Zimbabwe, moved to Benoni in South Africa with her family when she was 11 years old and the professional swimmer went on to represent the country at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, finishing fifth in the 4x100 metre medley relay. She met Prince Albert of Monaco that same year, and the couple went on to marry in 2011 before welcoming twins Gabriella and Jacques.

She took on the title once held by her mother-in-law, Grace Kelly – Her Serene Highness, The Princess of Monaco – but has continued to give back to the country she calls home in her affiliation with numerous charities, including the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the South African Red Cross Society and the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation.

Chantell Wittstock, the director of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation in South Africa, who knows the princess very well (she is also her sister-in-law), says during our telephone interview: "I think what the world doesn't know is, she does so much, and hardly any of it is ever out in public. She truly has the most generous and sincere heart. Her mission in life is to save lives, make a difference and give back."

Chantell says it's been "rewarding" and "inspiring" being by the princess' side. "She is so passionate about South Africa to start with, the work she has done here and continues to do here, is inspiring. She truly believes, in her own words: 'Together, we will save lives. One person, one family and one community at a time.'

"Which, again, I think, is a very strong message for this #strongtogether campaign as well."

The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation's mission is to save lives through teaching children water safety and helping talented sporting individuals excel, but of course, with the coronavirus pandemic that has seen Prince Albert himself contract the virus, the foundation's focus has shifted. And so the #strongtogether campaign was launched in the hope of saving many more lives in South Africa.

"With Princess Charlene's strong values of helping, saving lives, giving back, thinking what more we can do, #strongtogether started as a challenge," Chantell explains, revealing that 70 local celebrities have joined forces to help.

Princess Charlene

HOW CAN THE PUBLIC GET INVOLVED?

Celebrities, including Kefilwe Mabote, Jeannie D, Percy Montgomery, Gary Player and Bryan Habana, have all hopped on board the campaign.

The way it works is the celebrity ambassador chooses a charity of their choice and raises as much awareness as possible for #strongtogether. After getting people to donate, vote for them after seeing the work they've done and enter the campaign's competition by pledging as much money as they can on the Princess Charlene on Monaco website, they'll be measured. All funds they raise go 100% to charity and are split between their charity and Princess Charlene's.

And what was that about a competition? Well, by donating to your favourite celebrity's charity you also stand a chance to join them at the F1 Monaco Grand Prix in 2021 or win a five-day pamper at the five-star Etali Safari Lodge in Madikwe.

"Not only are you entering the competition and potentially winning these prizes, but in doing that you're helping us to save a life, to change a life," Chantell says.

"Let's stand together, let's make a difference together, let's help all these different industries, all these different people, from all over the world, and together we can make a difference."

Chantell confirmed that the two-week campaign, which started on 26 May, will be extended and run for an extra week until 16 June, after the overwhelming support it's received.

BRYAN HABANA FILLS US IN

We caught up with Bryan Habana whose been leading the celebrity charge for #strongtogether while simultaneously raising funds for the Bryan Habana Foundation.

The former professional rugby player tells us he's been handing out masks, sanitiser, wipes and more on behalf of the campaign, as well as delivering food parcels around Cape Town with Ozow and Food Forward SA.

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#WeWontStop - #1isBetterThan0 - Words won’t do justice to show the appreciation that I have for @thomas.pays and his @ozowpay team coming on this journey with me and the @bryanhabanafdn. Having the likes of @sivngesi not even think twice about saying yes and being there in the blink of an eye, makes me just want to do more!! - The need is still so vast and it feels as though we’re just a drop in the ocean at the moment but WE WONT STOP!!! - We need you to help us to do more! Please click on the link in my bio to donate ???? no matter how small. Whatever you can afford to give. Every little bit helps to make a difference. - #Ozow #OzowNice #BryanHabanaFoundation #StrongTogether - @pcmfsouthafrica

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"It's been absolutely brilliant to see the impact celebrities are having across the board," he said. 

"I launched the Bryan Habana foundation in 2015 and the main objective was a youth leadership perspective to upskill and give youth between the ages of 16 and 21 the opportunity, who do come from underprivileged areas, a platform and foundation, and help their communities."

"We've seen astronomical rises in people going hungry," he tells me. "We've been packing and delivering food parcels to some of the most destitute and underprivileged people within the Cape Town area and its been wonderful.

"Sometimes you feel that you're only a drop in the ocean, or that you're hardly making a dent, but now we've started "#1IsBetterThan0" and we're making a difference. Through the support of the strong together campaign, being able to make an impact and be part of something big, that's something we're really proud of."

Bryan has collaborated and met up with Princess Charlene many times before – the two do share a love for sport, after all, and the belief that it holds a certain power.

During our interview, Bryan recalls Nelson Mandela at the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000 saying: 'Sport has the power to change the world.'

"For me, being able to see the impact it has had on my life has not only allowed me to be inspired by and take up the game of rugby, but then seeing first hand winning the world cup the power it had and then being in Japan last year seeing the first black African captain to win a world cup, and bringing that back to South Africa and seeing the impact that had, it's incredible. For me, sport is something that brings people together in a way that nothing else does.

"There's a lot going on in the world, there's a lot going wrong in the world. I'm extremely proud to be able to use my platform," he says.

Byan tells me how he'd spent time with the princess over the years "sitting in the stadium with her watching a rugby game" and participating in the "incredible" work she's doing. "It's been a massive, humbling privilege to share some exchanges with her over the past couple of years," he says.

"Being South African and her ability to give back, through various different elements of the foundation, she's never lost that touch and how proud of this country we are. And it's wonderful to see that."