StreetSmart celebrates 15 years of changing children’s lives R5 at a time
StreetSmart SA, an organisation dedicated to helping South Africa’s most vulnerable children, celebrates its 15th anniversary of changing children’s lives R5 at a time.
Founded in Cape Town in 2005 under the patronage of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, StreetSmart SA has raised R11,6 million over 15 years in aid of 31 organisations caring for street children and children at risk of living on the streets. Donations are obtained through partnerships with restaurants, accommodation establishments and wine tasting venues in the Western Cape, Garden Route and Gauteng.
Spearheaded by Margi Biggs with a group of dedicated and resourceful board members representing business, hospitality and the tourism industry, StreetSmart SA was based on similar ‘dine and donate’ initiatives in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and The Netherlands. Their goal was to encourage the public not to give money into the hands of a child as it keeps them on the streets, but to give responsibly and become part of the process of social normalisation.
Funds are raised by adding a voluntary R5 donation to each patron’s bill in StreetSmart partner establishments. These donations are disbursed annually to beneficiary organisations involved in education, skills training and family reunification of vulnerable children.
“Donating to StreetSmart where you eat, drink and sleep is the responsible way to help a street child,” explains Chairperson Melanie Burke, one of StreetSmart’s founder members. Another founder member who still serves on the StreetSmart board today is well known Cape Town hotelier, Nils Heckscher.
While the true extent of the number of children living on the streets in South Africa is unknown, there are at least 250 000 children of school going age who are not at school, 2,8 million orphaned children and 11,6 million children living below the poverty line according to the South African Child Gauge 2019 of the Child Institute at the University of Cape Town.
One of StreetSmart’s beneficiaries, Kids Haven in Benoni, estimates there are at least 10 000 children living on the streets in Gauteng alone.
“South Africa is the most unequal society in the world and the problem of children living and begging on our streets is growing. Join StreetSmart to stop this scourge and get children back to school, their families and communities,” says Burke, stressing that it costs nothing for a restaurant, accommodation establishment or wine tasting venue to run StreetSmart and offers guests an easy way to do good while they are having a good time.
Starting from humble beginnings in June 2005 with 10 Cape Town restaurants raising R1 644, StreetSmart has grown to 100 partner establishments and has disbursed over R1 million per year for the past six years to beneficiary organisations. Expanding steadily from year to year, StreetSmart is currently represented in 12 towns and cities in the Western Cape, Garden Route and Gauteng.
Communities where StreetSmart partner establishments are situated benefit directly from this initiative as all donations received stay in the area and are utilised for local upliftment programmes.
“Over the past 15 years I have constantly been reminded of people’s generosity. South Africans really care for those in need, they just need to know how to help. StreetSmart has shown how easy it is to make a difference,” says founder Margi Biggs, who thanked the many restaurants and volunteers who have travelled along this 15 year journey with StreetSmart.
To celebrate this incredible 15 year milestone, StreetSmart acknowledged their Top 15 contributors for 2019 at a function in Cape Town: La Mouette, Gold Restaurant, Nonna Lina, Moyo Zoo Lake, Chatters Bistro, Foliage, The Fat Fish – Plett, Wellington Wines, Nguni Restaurant, Jordan Restaurant, Stacked Diner, Aubergine, Belvidere Manor, Social Eatery @ Knysna Hollow, and Moyo @ Kirstenbosch.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be at the top of StreetSmart’s annual contributors list. Thank you to each and every diner who helped out by eating out,” said Mari Vigar of La Mouette.
Other restaurants who have been with StreetSmart virtually from the outset include Nonna Lina and the restaurants at The Table Bay and Peninsula Hotel.
“We feel proud and privileged to have been associated with StreetSmart for 15 years, a charity that has truly impacted positively on the lives of so many,” says Chris Godenir, General Manager of The Peninsula.
StreetSmart SA is registered as a Public Benefit Organisation as well as a Non-profit Organisation and ensures that every cent donated by guests at partner establishments goes towards social and educational upliftment projects.