Let’s get Professional: Not just a NPO

On Friday, 18 August we held our 3rd NPO Conference.  This time it was entitled “Let’s get Professional: Not Just a NPO”.  The history behind this is the unfortunate excuse that so many NPO’s make when they fail to deliver their services, or reports in the expected time or to the expected standard; “But we are just a NPO”.  We believe that Durban NPO’s are so much more than that and are able to deliver excellence in their services and reporting and we wanted to equip them with some tools to make it easier.

About a year ago we were looking at We are Durban’s systems and processes and trying to streamline and systemise as much as possible.  We were looking into ways that our board members, volunteers and staff could take some of the workload off our Managing Director, in a way that maintained the standard.  After trying a few options, we discovered Trello. According to their webpage, “Trello is an easy, free, flexible and visual way to manage projects and organise anything.  Trusted by millions of people from around the world”, and we would have to agree.  Bradford Wills, of Fulfil Engineering, has spent hours mastering Trello and teaching people how to use it in their own workspaces and we were thrilled that he joined us to help the NPO’s gain a technical advantage.  It was so well received that the energy levels were at buzz status come tea break.

The excitement continued the rest of the day as Dr. Thea van der Westhuizen challenged the NPO leaders to get very clear on their proposals and requests when they send them off to potential donors.  Her years of experience in this field were of huge value to the organisations as she pushed them hard to find their truly unique point and name all the resources required to deliver their service.

These days come at a huge cost to our donors and we thank VUM and StyleEyes for backing the work we do with the NPO’s of Ethekwini.  We really appreciate your generosity that allows us the freedom to make the day memorable and fun for the leaders.  We also have to thank our speakers and many volunteers who take time out of their regular lives to serve the community of Durban – you are the “we” in We are Durban.

Facebook Posting 25

our wonderful volunteers

our wonderful volunteers

Facebook Posting 78 Facebook Posting 58 Facebook Posting 30 Facebook Posting 27

June Volunteer Induction

One of We are Durban’s goals for 2017 is to link more qualified professionals with heads of NPO’s to help encourage and develop their organisations to reach their full potential.  Regular conferences are hosted for Durban organisations and they are given the opportunity to request assistance in areas they believe are most pertinent for them and their continued success.  From the briefs received we are then able to connect a volunteer with them.


The latest Volunteer Induction evening was held on Monday, 12th June, at Olive Tree Church.  This was our second one this year, with our first batch of volunteers already impacting Durban. The aim of the event is to provide as much information as possible regarding the volunteering process and provide an opportunity to for interested individuals to see which organisation they feel most connected with.  Over 30 prospective volunteers attended the informative evening of how their involvement could make an impact within Durban’s NPO’s.


Information was provided on the various organisations requesting assistance and their specific need.  The most requested are for qualified marketers, financial advisors, legal consultants, business strategists and human resource agents.


Volunteers spent the evening learning about how to volunteer in a way that helps and not hurts, and the parameters in which a We are Durban volunteer serves.


At the end of the presentation there was an opportunity to sign up to an organisation, but the beauty of the induction evening was that no commitment was expected.  Some signed up immediately, others wanted to go home and think about it and others felt that this wasn’t what they expected and would prefer to donate their time in another capacity.


The evening was a success and we thank all those involved in setting up, serving and most importantly you, the enthusiastic volunteers, for attending and wanting to be a part of making Durban better, together.

19092753_1382707225141672_3588697692905237769_o IMG_20170612_185457_527_resized

On Target

Our second NPO Conference was hosted on 26 May 2017, with a great success. Forty different NPO’s from the Durban area came together for a day of mutual learning and networking around the topic of Marketing.  The conference was TARGET themed, creating an environment which helped the NPO leaders to start figuring out what their own “targets” are in their fundraising efforts.

We were fortunate to hear from actual donors; Norman Dorkin (who gives of his personal money into NPO efforts), David Gould (a director of three companies who give into registered PBO’s), and Kudzai Mqingwana (the CSI Manager for Sibaya Development Trust).  They shed light on what they donate toward, how you can attract their funding and what they want in return.

Other insightful speakers offered their expertise in the field of marketing.  Mia Ludick delivered a great introduction setting us up for thinking about our different targets.  Yasmin Kathoria from Innate Motion delved deeper into where companies, and especially fortune 500 companies, are going with their marketing strategies and what marketing is going to look like in five years.  This creates great opportunities for NPO’s to present campaigns and gain funding from these companies. Natalie Hopkins, Large Architects Marketing manager, and Michelle Govender, Bright Spark Communications founder, spent the most part of the afternoon attempting the mammoth task of sharing the basics of marketing so that the NPO’s could pick their next approach.

All-in-all the day was well received and we have had many organisations send their letters of appreciation.  A big thank you to our sponsors who made the day a success, Style Eyes of California and VUM.  We really appreciate what your companies are doing in the effort to make Durban all it is meant to be! 

Our next conference will be mid-August and focusing on the Organisational Structure and Administration aspects.  Sadly, in our rush of service delivery we forget the importance of our behind the scenes work and this inhibits our ability to attract great long term partners. We hope this conference will shed some light on simple, effective ways of making sure you achieve sustainability.

Facebook Posting 156 Facebook Posting 124 Facebook Posting 94 Facebook Posting 82 Facebook Posting 79 Facebook Posting 145

Together Towards Tomorrow

On Friday, 11 November 2016, We are Durban partnered with 10 organisations from Durban to present the Together Towards Tomorrow conference.  The heart behind the conference was to bring hope and life to the heads of organisations that Durban desperately needs to function to capacity.  We have so much need in Durban but we also have the organisations and infrastructure in place to deal with that need.  Capacity needs to be built within the organisations so that more people benefit from their services.

In the 6 years of We are Durban serving the servants of Durban a pattern has developed in what the NPO’s have been asking for assistance in.  We decided that the best way we can serve these NPO heads was to bring them together and input into their lives through professional culture shifters.  These professionals were the very talented Simon Kozlowski (thirtyseven), Mthoko Shange (Imbizo Foundation) and Abonga Nkwelo (Apple Tree Culture Catalysts) who spoke into Organisational Structure, The Courage to take my organisation forward and Brand Identity respectively.

We had filmed case studies of organisations getting these topics right.  These examples were iThemba Lethu, Buyisithemba and uMinathi.  We also allowed the audience to ask tough questions of all these people and also some very large and well known organisations, namely: LIV-Village, Hillcrest Aids Centre, and Domino Business.  To encourage making the learning personal, we held table discussions which were facilitated by volunteer Social Workers arranged by UNISA’s Bright Site (who place social work students in the final year of their studies).

76 people attended representing in excess of 50 organisations.

The event was manned by volunteers and co-ordinated by Jet Events and Teraza Blaire.  A big thank you to our Amashova team whose sponsorships went towards this event and to Style Eyes for the donation that paid for half of the costs!

We look forward to our next one, as this was, from all the feedback we received, a great success!

Heritage Day Potjie Competition

We Are Durban held their annual Potjie Competition on Heritage Day, 24the September. The competition was hosted in partnership with Buyisithemba GD  community Development, a Non-Profit Organisation in KwaMashu, Durban.


Teams started arriving from 08:00 and it wasn’t long before gazebos were up, deck chairs were out and 21 potjies were on the go all over the venue.


There was a festive atmosphere as friends, family and colleagues all joined in celebrating Heritage Day and experienced a taste of township life while building relationships with the local community.


During the event we were privileged to be entertained with some dancing from the children of the community.


Whilst the judges were deliberating  over  which potjie was the winner of the competition, we lined up the potjies and started serving the food to the eagerly awaiting local community.


There was more than enough for everyone, we estimated that approximately 250 people were fed.


Once the judges had completed their task and all the scores collated the winner was announced.  Well done to the defending champion, Warren Gedye and his team for taking first prize again this year.


A big thank you to all our participants, volunteers and sponsors for making this event a great success.

To love a heroin addict

I have been meeting with a person who is homeless and a heroin addict for the past 3 months, twice a week, every week.  The man is my cousin.  He is 28 years old and either sleeps on the streets or in a shelter when he can afford it.  My purpose in meeting with him is to write his story to try to find some real solutions to this problem our beautiful city is facing.

This is a real problem.  We only have about 34 people injecting heroin in Central Durban, but a large percentage of our homeless community are smoking it – either as heroin or woonga.  It is a problem.  The problem affects us deeply.  Even if we choose to ignore it, it will continue to be there.  Ignoring these people is so much of the problem.  They need love, and lots of it.  I asked my cousin to describe what it feels like to be high.  His answer shocked me.  I was expecting that it made him forget his problems, that it probably gave him some visions, took away the pain.  I never expected his true answer.  He said; “it feels like someone has placed a warm coal inside of you and you feel loved and accepted”. You see my cousin comes from a broken home, parents divorced when he was 5, mom battled cancer and died when he was 11, dad was not a factor and he was dumped from one family to the next.  I am not excusing his choices, but if this is a way he can feel loved, can we as society really blame him? Haven’t we all done crazy things just to feel loved?

Sadly, that sensation does not last.  Sadly, as you build a tolerance to the drug you reach a point where you no longer get that sensation and all you are doing is self-medicating to prevent withdrawal. Oh, and withdrawal is bad! Imagine the worst possible stomach bug but lasting three weeks with intense muscular pain.  Literally bile pouring out of you. And you feel abandoned and lonely and unloved.  And the drug is whispering to you, “all you need is a little shot and you will feel so much better, nobody will know.” I spoke to a guy yesterday who has been clean for 18 years and he said he still hears that voice every now and then.  Then you get the other side where they push the envelope a bit far and overdose.  We lost a 23 year old mom this last week, on Mahatma Gandhi Rd. Apparently they know when it has happened the minute they inject.  There is no high, just intense pain, heat and blackness.  If there is too much they don’t wake up.  A real waste of a life.

Many of these addicts are really functional.  You have probably been served by one at a restaurant and never even realised it. Inevitably they get greedy.  They need more drug and they will do anything to get it. So they end up stealing, and they lose their jobs.  This is where life becomes dangerous for them and society, this is where we need to engage and not disengage.

On the streets they have three choices to earn money to pay for their drugs.  The first is the hustle.  This usually goes on the line of “I am not a drug addict. I have landed on the streets due to some misfortune and need shelter money or money for food.” “Or I am selling this object to raise shelter money or support my baby”.  We have all heard the story. Sometimes we give to get rid of the person, sometimes out of guilt, sometimes out of religious obligation, and sometimes because we believe their story and genuinely want to help them. But the hustle works.  They earn between R100 and R1500 a day doing this, depending on the day and the season.  The second is the route many of the girl’s land up taking, prostitution.  Either online sales, manning a street corner or working a strip.  Almost all of them land up being used by the drug lords.  Handing over every cent made so that they can get their next fix or keep a roof over their head. The third option is crime. Muggings, shoplifting, and theft out of motor vehicles are the most common, but it lands them up in a cycle of going in and out of prison and mixing with worse and worse people.

What is the solution?  To be honest, I do not know.  What I do know is that these people are hugely vulnerable.  They need love and to be shown that people care. Not by giving them stuff, those things are likely to be sold to buy more drugs, but by engaging the individuals. Until they choose to make the decision for themselves that they no longer want that lifestyle there is no point in offering them a way out. If the choice is not theirs, they will return to the lifestyle the first opportunity they have.  If the choice is not truly theirs they will resent you for “helping”.  Only they can answer the question if they are ready to change.  They may have told you they are, but it really was another hustle, and they will return the minute the pain strikes.  On the streets they need just enough money to self-medicate.  They are okay to not sleep in a shelter, to go without food as long as they do not go into withdrawal.  But that is the base. If no one ever gives we are going to land up with a crime situation. It is such a precarious space.  You do not want to give because you are fuelling an addiction, but if you do not give where will they find the money for the heroin?  They will make sure they have it.  The beauty of the don’t give campaigns is that it has been effective.  The addicts have been forced to take less, but the minute they “hit a luck” they are at risk of overdosing.

Once the addict decides that he wants to give up he has a major problem.  If he doesn’t have a wealthy family that can pay for a fancy rehabilitation facility that offers detoxing there are not many options. Most addicts have burnt that bridge long ago. The government hospitals will not take them.  These people need constant support and attention in this space – they cannot do it on the street.  This situation is creating another barrier to them being healed.  I applaud the efforts of the Denis Hurley Centre and Hope 4 All in investigating and initiating efforts to start free facilities.  Please people, get behind them.  Our City needs these services.

I am busy writing my cousin’s full story and we hope that it will help pre-teens, teens, young adults and families make wise choices around drugs.  We hope that it could prevent even one person landing up in the same situation.  These are people who are filling a need to be loved with something that ends up destroying their potential to be loved.

Mandela Day Market

On Saturday, 16 July 2016, we at our offices in Windermere to celebrate Mandela Day.  We asked the community to get involved by either donating their good quality second hand clothes, or books, bake something delicious and donate that, volunteer time to sort, set up or sell on the day.  Huge piles of clothes were donated.  We had plenty of baked goods and fudge for those with a sweet tooth. There was coffee, bacon and egg rolls and homemade lemonade to keep people happy and full.  Twelve other regular market stalls were booked to sell their own wares on the day, and there was even a fun photobooth.  A raffle was held where there was a night stay in an executive suite at the Suncoast Towers, including breakfast and a R500 voucher for dinner sponsored by Tsogo Sun, which Bruce Jackson won, much to his delight.  The money raised from the day will be going towards a project we are working on with the municipality to supply a new pre-primary school facility for the children in the Dalton Heights area.  Just under R15,000.00 was raised.  A big thank you goes out to all who supported us on the day.

Cupboards for Bridges of Hope for Children

Bridges of Hope for Children gives a home to vulnerable children in foster care.  Sharon who run’s it has made a real home for the children in her care including 2 special needs boys.  They recently moved from the Midland’s to Cato Ridge and have rented a very rundown farm.  The previous tenants had stripped the place of plumbing and electrics and left it in a horrendous situation.

A group of friends have assisted by sorting out, and giving a face-lift to the kids playroom, art room and schoolroom as well as raising R15,000.00 from EBH which will go a long way to assist the upgrades.

WE are Durban has been donated plenty kitchen cupboard doors which allowed us the opportunity to spend time with the family and assist in making their kitchen functional.  With the assistance of a team of volunteers and intern we have been able to make a difference there.  Plenty more needs doing but little by little a change can be made.  A big thanks to Chris Lyle, Chris Gill and our interns for the hard work they put in.  We need to return soon to complete more work.

Grace aid is sending a electrician to rewire the building and a team of volunteers to clear out the garden on the 16 July.

This project is really showing the power of working together to assist those in need.


Youth Beach Day 2016

On Saturday, 11 June 2016, we help our chilliest Youth Beach Day event yet!  Our beach day has become an annual event as it is so well received by the community and by the volunteers.  The celebration around Youth day is remembering the youth lost in the ending of apartheid and giving some of our underprivileged youth the opportunity to have a real childhood experience.  The day at the beach along with the life-skill lesson of beach and water safety from the lifeguards, was such a treat for the kids.  This year again we chose to work with the organisation called Key of Hope which works with vulnerable children in 14 different townships in the greater Durban area.  They develop leadership in the children.  They impact approximately 2,000 children a week through their various programs.

A trip to the beach is a highlight for any child and when we noticed that the weather was not looking good for Saturday we considered alternative plans, but soon realised that for children, especially children who don’t get to the beach, there was no real alternative.  We were also concerned that the volunteers would not show up if it was cold.  We were pleasantly surprised.  Not only did we have plenty of volunteers but the kids even swam!

Charles Khumalo and his team of lifeguards did a great safety briefing.  They have a slick operation which goes around rural areas educating the public on watersafety and what to do if you land up in trouble in the water.  Their heart is to prevent drowning in our communities.

After dividing into teams the kids began a series of fun games that all encouraged teamwork and communication.  We left the swimming off the list of games as we didn’t want to deal with hypothermia, but still the kids found a way to go swim and they thoroughly enjoyed it.  The day ended with a meal arranged by Terence Pillay and a goodie bag to take home.  Their goodie bag contained a mug, bath scourer, and cap.  On top of that, Froggie sponsored a brand new pair of shoes for each of the children who attended!  All the games equipment and our lifeguards on duty, were sponsored by Mpact Plastics.

At the end of the day our volunteers were spoilt by the Key of Hope choir singing for us. A big THANK YOU goes out to all who helped out on the day.  We appreciate each and every one of you.  TO our volunteers, the day could not happen if you didn’t get involved.  Terence Pillay and Sandie Rogerson, who did so much behind the scenes to make the day a success, to Charles Khumalo and his team for ensuring the kids safety, to our sponsors, Froggie and Mpact Plastics that enabled us to bless the kids, and to the Key of Hope for the work you do in Durban, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

20160611_114421 20160611_114436 20160611_114446 20160611_114508 20160611_114525 BeachDay DSC_0923 DSC_0934 DSC_0935 DSC_0944 DSC_0949 DSC_0951 DSC_0958 DSC_0984 DSC_0989 DSC_0993 DSC_1007 DSC_1011 DSC_1019 DSC_1025 DSC_1036 DSC_1037 DSC_1047 DSC_1070 DSC_1083 DSC_1091 DSC_1107 DSC_1116 DSC_1121 DSC_1131 DSC_1151 DSC_1154 DSC_1155 DSC_1177 DSC_1187 DSC_1191 DSC_1195