Boikanyo means to have Faith. The NGO was named after 2 inspirational souls: Boikanyo, a dynamic special 8 year old cerebral palsied (CP) child, and Dion Herson a philanthropist who loved giving to others.
Nurturing vulnerable and at risk youth and their caregivers towards becoming contributing members of their family, community and society.
We alleviate poverty through networking and partnering, introducing programs aimed at a hand up approach as opposed to a handout.
The Foundation was started by Marilyn Bassin 2 years after she began volunteering at CP Clinic at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – Bara – in January 2009. Whilst there she saw the desperate lack of and need for disability equipment.
In 2011 Boikanyo the Dion Herson Foundation was established, essentially to fund equipment for disabled children who waited years for wheelchairs etc. Other wards got to hear of the equipment and assistance and began calling for assistance, Marilyn organised to buy equipment which afforded children to go home to mom- and- love, pressure prevention equipment, seating equipment and much more. Burnt, maimed, disabled, amputees, children with tracheostomies who lived for years at the hospital, hydrocephalic children, abandoned, raped, abused, bitten etc- in various paediatric wards received assistance. No one was turned away.Funding for two children to have surgery in a private hospital to close up a tracheostomy was arranged as well.
She met Riaz Simjee and together they ran a very successful Muslim / Jewish Interfaith teenage volunteer group –together the teens changed not only countless children’s lives at the hospital with their acts of goodwill, but also their own misconceptions about one another. This valuable humanitarian work lasted only until early in 2012 when the NGO was made unwelcome at the hospital, the CEO felt that our intention was to make Bara ‘look bad’. A complaint was laid with the SAHRC, they mediated but Boikanyo was not able to negotiate re entry into the hospital until years later, In 2012 the NGO moved to Mapetla, Soweto.
A 6 month long needs analysis ensued whilst accompanying an organisation of social workers called the Soweto Parent and Child Counselling Centre- SPCCC was done, gauging the issues that plagued the community. Boikanyo saw first-hand the misery that results from starvation and poverty. We saw too how education and schooling become secondary for those living in survival mode.
We initially addressed starvation by assisting the SPCCC with food handouts, but the longer we stayed in the area, the greater our motivation to find a more sustainable food security initiative. Together with community members we established our school/community vegetable garden at Sediba Thuto School , a poverty alleviation initiative.
Four years later we have a successful garden. The project has afforded us access and opportunities to interact and engage with the community. Over the years we have come to a greater understanding of the multi-factorial challenges facing children and teenagers growing up in such dire poverty.
We feel we are in a unique position to use the garden project not only as a site for teaching valuable basic gardening skills, but also as a platform from with other skills based and social upliftment initiatives – aligned with our mission and vision- can be attained. These future plans remain focused on supporting and nurturing indigent, vulnerable and at risk youth and their caregivers towards becoming valuable and contributing members of society.
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.