For the past year, Cape Town restaurant patrons have helped to give street children a new lease on life, simply by agreeing to add R5.00 to their table bill. And now, customers in Jo’burg and other South African cities may be able to do their bit for this worthwhile initiative simply by adding a few rands to their meal as the initiative known as StreetSmart announces its intention to seek a sponsor to go national.
The concept was originally founded by two business people in London in 1998. It quickly caught on in a number of cities around the world including San Francisco and Melbourne. Local founder Margi Biggs “discovered” it when she ate at a London restaurant participating in the initiative. StreetSmart has been successfully adapted locally and was launched by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in May 2005.
The concept has done well in Cape Town and there are 26 restaurants that are vigorously involved. Diners often do not even have to be asked whether they want to donate – they are more than happy to. The charities benefiting from the programme assist those living on the street by seeking to re-integrate and re-orientate them into society.
According to Melanie Burke, a board member of StreetSmart South Africa, their projects were carefully chosen and have to be in line with the StreetSmart vision. ‘We identified and fund projects that are aimed at education, skills training and family reunification. Imperatives for us are that the charities must focus on personal development and rehabilitate and empower homeless youths so they can go on to be valuable members of their communities. ” she says.
In addition to the restaurant fund raising, StreetSmart has a number of organisations that sponsor certain of their costs, as was the case with Specialized Tours & Events who sponsored StreetSmart’s start-up costs and will be sponsoring StreetSmart’s administration costs until the end of 2007. Its board members are also very involved in funding StreetSmart, and Melanie recently became a Local Hero when she successfully nominated the organisation to receive a R10 000 donation as part of Nedbank’s social responsibility programme. Says Melanie, “The R10 000 provided a big boost for us and will go towards our operational costs where it is needed most.” There have been countless others who have contributed and StreetSmart has to date been able to give over R450, 000.00 to its selected charities.
StreetSmart is currently on the lookout for partners who will help them take the project nationwide. If you would like to find out how you or your organisation or restaurant can get involved you can visit their website at www.streetsmartsa.org.za or contact them by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Unless a national sponsor is found, this project will not run nationally.