Kupelo gives back to E Cape
His passion for children and his determination to help the underprivileged has spurred a government spokesman to start a rural charity foundation.
Eastern Cape health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo's generous giving spirit has earned him the nickname "Father Christmas of the underprivileged".
What started as a humble request to friends to assist him with donations to poor families in Nkankatho village, in Libode, Transkei, two years ago, has now culminated in the Sizwe Kupelo Rural Children's Foundation.
"I come from these areas and seeing people, especially children, suffering bothers me," said Kupelo, father of three-year-old Aseko.
His "burning desire to make a change" was given a jump start when, in 2008, he received a R5000 reward as part of the Eastern Cape government's excellence incentive scheme. Kupelo used the money to host a Christmas party for about 70 pre-school children.
"After witnessing the joy on the children's faces and the gratitude of the community, I knew it could not be a once-off," he said.
He has since lobbied tirelessly for donations or other forms of assistance from businesses and government organisations.
Some of the donations and services he has secured include:
- R660000 from a construction company for the re-gravelling of a 4km road to connect six villages to the St Barnabas Hospital, in Libode, a high school and government social welfare offices;
- 20 computers from a private company for four schools in Libode and Flagstaff. The company has offered to train teachers in their use and to install network infrastructure;
- R60000 to build and buy equipment for a church that will also be used as a community hall;
- A soccer field in Nkankatho village. It has been completed and another a company has sponsored full soccer kits.
Kupelo is planning a party for about 5000 children on Christmas Day, not only to entertain them but also to "keep them busy and away from alcohol or crime".
Several donations for the party have already been received from companies and individuals.
Presidential spokesman Zizi Kodwa has offered to buy gifts for 1500 children.
"It's going to be an event on the same scale as the annual Christmas parties Tata [Nelson] Mandela used to have for the children," said Kupelo.
"I cannot describe the warmth it brings to my heart to make a difference in children's lives."