A chance meeting between a Fish Hoek man and a German student led to the establishment of a charity that is changing lives in Masiphumelele and Ocean View.
When Thembi Ndlovu met Daria Kreutzer in Muizenberg in 2019, he and his family were trying to get a non-profit organisation, Precious Lives Matter, off the ground to help people in their community, and Ms Kreutzer was a psychology student researching cross-cultural psychology.
Mr Ndlovu, one of the directors of the organisation, invited Ms Kreutzer to meet his family in Fish Hoek.
Precious Lives Matter is non-profit organisation helping to meet the needs of the Masiphumelele and Ocean View communities, especially the well-being and development of children. It was founded by Mr Ndlovu’s mother, Life Ndlovu, a primary school teacher in Ocean View.
Ms Ndlovu started tutoring children in the Masiphumelele and funded all the work from her already small salary. Later, she was supported by colleagues and family. However, as the need grew, the family could not continue to contribute from their own pockets and needed some help.
When Ms Kreutzer met with the Ndlovu family, it was the start of what the family call a “miracle”.
“Within 72 hours of meeting Daria, I was networking with people I didn’t know existed. Before I met her, we were moving in first gear and now we were moving at full speed,” says Mr Ndlovu.
Ms Kreutzer advised the family on how to start and run a non-profit and even built the organisation’s website.
After returning to Germany, she stayed in touch and has since become one of the organisation’s directors. She oversees fund-raising efforts and manages the organisation’s online presence.
Ms Kreutzer says many charities in Africa unintentionally foster dependency instead of development, and she aims for a more sustainable, empowering outcome.
In the past two years, Ms Kreutzer has helped to raise funds for fire victims in Masiphumelele, and she has secured “sponsors” in Germany for three families in need.
Word-of-mouth campaigns are just as important as a website and social media to raise funds, she says.
“This grassroots strategy has proven effective in spreading awareness and encouraging more people to join the cause.”
Her family has also made a personal commitment to contribute monthly to support the development of children in Masiphumelele.
The organisation’s website tells the stories of individuals who need help.
“Our goal is not to evoke pity but rather to provide a genuine insight into their unique experiences,” says Ms Kreutzer.
This approach, she says, creates a deeper understanding and builds trust between donors and beneficiaries, ensuring that contributions go to familiar faces instead of strangers.
The organisation’s website is available in both English and German and donors can use a variety of payment methods.
Because of the exchange rate, small donations from Germany can make a big difference to beneficiaries on this end, says Ms Kreutzer.
Ms Ndlovu ensures that sponsors get photos of the families they support, and, in some cases, they meet on video calls or share voice notes on WhatsApp.
During a recent trip to Cape Town, Ms Kreutzer visited three families she has helped: an Ocean View father of three whose wife died of Covid-19 in 2021 shortly after giving birth; a child-headed family in Masiphumelele who almost lost their eldest sister to suicide as she could no longer see her family suffer; and a 2-year-old boy who was abandoned by his alcoholic mother at the age of two months. He had open maggot-infested sores on his body and was sleeping with dogs. The Ocean View woman who adopted him asked not to be identified but told the Echo that when she adopted the boy in 2021, he didn’t have a name.
“I was unable to have children of my own so I was happy to adopt him,” she says, adding that thanks to Ms Ndlovu introducing her to Ms Kreutzer, the boy now receives a monthly sponsorship from Precious Lives Matter.
“Precious Lives Matter has changed the lives of my entire family, and they have put us in contact with so many other people,” she says.
Visit preciouslivesmatter.africa for more information about the organisation.