Who we are
The Lonely Road Foundation is a South African development organisation which aims to improve the lives of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC’s) in the rural community of Ga-Dikgale, Limpopo.
The Lonely Road Foundation was founded by Thabang Skwambane and is led by a board of highly educated, innovative and dedicated South Africans. The directors, staff and volunteers of the Foundation are affectionately known as “Roadies”.
The Foundation employs minimal staff, relying on our extensive volunteer base to bring projects to fruition. The outside assistance from truly philanthropic South Africans means our labour force is self-motivated, creating an astounding rate of delivery; this is evident in the projects completed thus far.
An integral part of our approach is the belief that each individual must be given the skills and tools required to provide for themselves. By enabling and equipping impoverished communities with education and the tools that allow them to solve their own problems, we do more than provide hand-outs; we empower communities and partner in creating a sustained and progressive improvement.
We focus on community-driven support. We aim to provide any necessary education and training to community volunteers, as well as establishing sustainable and scalable cooperative businesses to provide essential products to meet the needs of our children, as well as to meet the needs of the community at large.
Happy, healthy and secure children in rural communities.
To build the capabilities of Drop-In Centres in the rural community of Ga-Dikgale so that they are capable of implementing and sustaining programmes for securing happy and healthy childhoods for young children in their care.
A new perspective on charity
A major flaw within the traditional charity model is the creation of dependence. Often, underprivileged communities may become reliant on charitable hand-outs in order to remain functional. We counteract this by moving away from conventional nutrition and monetary based aid and shifting the focus toward incubating community-driven solutions.
Our work is primarily based on supporting Orphaned and Vulnerable Children. By partnering with key community members we create independent Drop-In Centres (DIC’s) and Early Childhood Development Centres , which serve as child-support networks within each community. This has an obvious immediate benefit, but the process also instills lessons and skills that will be passed down and taught for generations, thereby helping to create self-sustaining growth within these communities.
We are a registered Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and Public Benefit Organisation (PBO). In terms of the South African New Companies Act, we are currently in the transition to become a Non-Profit Company (NPC). We are presently able to support 3,000 children in Ga-Dikgale. We also support a total of 40 child-headed households and over 370 grandparent-headed households.
“It takes a village to raise a child” – African Proverb
We believe that the challenge of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children needs to be addressed from within communities and that it is critical to manage this in a sustainable manner. With our core ethos of effective development practice, we focus on empowering and enabling the community; seeing the community thrive and able to provide a context for happy childhoods.
How we do it
Our development programmes focus on four main objectives:
Specialising in the care and support of Orphaned and Vulnerable children, this division of the organisation is aimed towards making sure that every child is given a fair chance.
By providing Identity Documents, social grants, cooked meals, emotional support, education, extramural activities and the chance for creative expression, these children are given the chance to change their circumstances and enter educational institutions on an even footing.
Beyond the provision of basic necessities like food, water, medical care and hygiene assistance, these centres provide a place of sanctuary for many of the children in the surrounding areas.
The Drop-in Centres give them a place to get a cooked meal every day after school, assistance with their homework, opportunity to wash their uniforms and clothing, emotional support and a safe place to play and learn. In addition to this the centres also act as a hub for NPO and Social Development Grant applications, food drives and subsistence food gardening.
The most important element of the program is the caregiver system; these individuals are equipped through visualisation workshops and training sessions (including psychosocial support and administration training) to become the best at taking care of OVC’s. This includes home visits and living standard assessments, a large part of which is the identification of the children and families that are most in need.
All of these systems are in place to give help to those that need it, but most important is the goal to create a positive sustained impact. In order to achieve this sustainability, the programme also includes fundraising drives, small business opportunity projects through the Lonely Road Foundation Rural Business Incubator, subsistence farming and resource networks that are available to all.
The Original Lonely Road Challenge
In June 2007, Thabang Skwambane embarked on the Lonely Road Challenge – cycling alone and unsupported across six countries from Johannesburg, South Africa to Moshe, Tanzania, a distance of nearly 6,000km, and then climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with a team of 11 climbers.
The Challenge raised the funding and awareness that made the establishment of the Lonely Road Foundation a reality.
Thabang set off from Johannesburg and cycled the equivalent of a full day amateur cycle race (110km) for six days of each week, allowing himself one rest day per week. It took him three months to cycle to Moshe, on the Tanzania-Kenya border.
He was met by a team of 11 climbers at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro and completed the challenge by summiting the highest peak in Africa.
Thabang faced many of his own challenges on the road, including dysentery, being hit by a truck and the emotional challenge of being alone for long stretches of time with no outside support whatsoever.
Thabang’s journey is a symbol of the challenge faced every day by millions of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children. They face the long and lonely road of childhood alone, with a mountain of being a responsible, constructive adult in society at the end of it all.