We recently invited community projects and travel businesses to tell us their stories. We especially wanted to hear from initiatives that do things differently to make a difference - projects like the inspirational Creseldah Education Foundation (CEF), based in the Mpumalanga province of eastern South Africa.
Best known to travellers for its National Parks, this is full-on Big Five territory, home to the Blyde River Canyon and the gold rush town of Barberton. And it's also home to the CEF, a non-profit organization that works to empower young women and support vulnerable children. The Foundation achieves this through a range of practical projects, alongside development programs that last a lifetime.
Read on to discover CEF's story.
CEF was founded by Bushbuckridge entrepreneur Creseldah Ndlovu in 2010. From the age of sixteen, Creseldah cared for her siblings while her mother worked in game reserves. Following this, she found financial freedom through running her own salon. As a result, Creseldah wanted to help South African women from similar backgrounds find their own roads to success. Taking up community work in 2005 set her on a path to do just that. “We believe that every child has a right to learn, despite their family backgrounds,” she says, voicing CEF's main vision.
Today the CEF has a positive effect on around 5000 young people, with a mission “to eradicate poverty through education”. The Foundation's reach now extends beyond its Bushbuckridge base to South Africa’s Limpopo province, and Maputo in Mozambique. The CEF is also proud of its 12-year-old female ambassador in the UK. This young student was inspired to fund-raise for the Foundation “after hearing the news that some girls have no access to sanitary pads”.
In recognition of the Foundation's life-changing impact, Creseldah has received many awards and accolades, including being selected as a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth finalist.
Creseldah is most proud of “our current Social Enterprise. CefPads was founded to educate, empower, and promote hygiene to young girls and women. We manufacture our own brand, washable and reusable pads using sustainable fabrics.” Alongside providing essential sanitary products, this also creates jobs for young women in South Africa, “empowering them with skills to develop for the future.”
The Foundation also runs a Girls Academy for 10-25-year-olds (including teenage mothers), with support extending when pupils leave. University students are provided with practical starter packs. Young people can also attend skills development programs. These include driving lessons and ancillary nurse training.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Creseldah has turned her hand to making and delivering facemasks in her area of South Africa. Alongside this immediate need, she points to the on-going challenges of “operating in deep rural areas where we have limited resources. We need laptops for our team of volunteers when we visit schools to assist learners with online applications.”
The Foundation’s robotics and coding training scheme has its eyes set firmly on the future. Aiming to inspire an interest in technology in young people, this pioneering project currently works with fifteen girls.
Creseldah also points to the CEFs ambitions to “expand, to reach out and help many souls in need. We also aim to bring zero teen pregnancy. This is one of our large projects we are running, which will bring great positive impact to the region.”
Inspired? Head here to discover how you can get involved with the life-changing Creseldah Education Foundation.
To find out more about the region, check out The Rough Guide to South Africaandour South African trip itineraries, which can be tailor-made to create your very own adventure of a lifetime.
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Header image of Limpopo © South African Tourism.
Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her