Bridgebuilders was originally set up with the assistance of Lyn and Barry Beaton of Masizame Arts and Craft Centre.
In 2002 an English couple Karen and Bill Barton found their way up to the Masizame Art Centre at Nekkies. From this developed regular trips bringing art materials, fabrics, books etc for the centre. They were later approached to sponsor Mboneleli Shaun Pakade, a very able youngster who had been awarded a scholarship to Oakhill but had no means to finance the 'extras'. They were happy to take him on and, four years later, he is a great credit to the system and is flourishing.
As time went on they discovered that further scholarships were on offer but not being taken up due to the additional expenses that would be incurred by the families. Living partly in the Isle of Man whose population has 10% South Africans they felt that it would be worth exploring the possibility of some people on the island being prepared to help in a similar fashion.
Karen and Bill Barton have been sponsoring Shaun's educational needs for the past 3 years. He has gone from strength to strength in his academic, sporting and artistic abilities.
At Masizame there are always other children who show extraordinary abilities in various areas, so Bridge Builders intends to offer them similar opportunities.
As little as £300 will cover the cost of an excellent education for one child, for one year! This includes the cost of school stationery, school uniforms, field trips and transport to and from school.
It has been proven that a good education is vital for combating and / or prevention of some of the world's worst ills, for example: crime, drug and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS, child abuse, domestic violence, lack of family planning, poor self esteem, a general lack of understanding and respect for others and the world around us, and an inability to find meaningful and sustainable employment. In short, the lack of education in the individual results in a life of deprivation and hardship, to say the least.
Our aim is sponsor at least one child per year, depending on the money raised, and in this way will surely make an enormous difference in the lives of those concerned. Our commitment to such a child will be to support him/her throughout their primary/secondary education tuition needs. This may be for full time education at a better school or for tuition in extra-mural activities in a specific area of talent. The list of opportunities is endless, and the benefits mind-boggling. Selection of any child will be non-judgmental with regard to race, creed, politics etc. We only ask that the child soul show some special ability and that they are prepared to commit themselves to the extra education on offer.
This year Bill and Karen Barton set up an initial fundraising event on the Isle of Man. This took the form of a dinner and auction of artworks by both South African and Manx artists. The response from both sides of the equator was overwhelming and extremely touching - over 100 people have been involved. As a result the event which took place on 4th July raised over 50,000 Rand. Not only was this a fantastic outcome but the enthusiastic response from all involved means that a similar event is already in the planning stage for 2007. Several organisations on the island are hoping to make contributions from their own fund raising activities.
It is hoped that a Manx bursary will be set up in Knysna to enable bright children to take up opportunities that would not be possible without some financial help. There will be absolutely no selection based on race, colour, creed, politics etc. All that will be required would be that a child shows a real ability in some area and can demonstrate the determination to take advantage of an opportunity. It is intended that Bridgebuilders will have ABSOLUTELY NO expenses other than the bank charges of transferring the money and we hope that we may be able to persuade the Isle of Man bank to waive these! The process of registering Bridgebuilders as a Manx based charity is in progress.