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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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International: The other side of Cape Town

Gugulethu. Khayelitsha. Two sprawling townships, home to well over a million people. And the scene of a myriad of small scale initiatives making tiny, but important, inroads into the challenging problems faced by the inhabitants. Mary and I were privileged to visit two of these projects while attending the Congress.

As part of the official social programme, about 20 actuaries and their families, from all different nationalities, joined the quaintly named ’Social Responsibility Tour’. We were bussed to Gugulethu township, where we met the inspirational Helen Lieberman, founder and now Honorary President of the charity Ikamva Labantu (The Future of the Nation). Helen has devoted her life to the people of the townships, initially using her nursing skills to run clinics and then expanding to facilitate community development projects. Ikamva Labantu now has 1500 projects running across South Africa. One such project involved building a house for a woman who looks after abandoned children. She currently has 23 children living with her, all under the age of 10.

After only three weeks, using volunteer labour from the community, the new home was nearing completion. It was tiny – three small rooms, a kitchen and bathroom, which charmingly included a pair of toilets, one adult size and one for toddlers! The walls and ceilings were still bare plaster, so half our group got to work putting a primer coat of paint all over. The other half laid paving stones and turf to create a small front garden and then donned hard hats to demolish a badly burnt outhouse at the back.
After a couple of hours in the sweltering heat, Helen and her helpers produced cakes and drinks for all the children and the actuarial and local labourers. The new occupant of the house even made a delightful impromptu speech thanking everyone. Surrounded by all the children in her care, she marvelled at the prospect of moving in within a few days and being able to enjoy an inside toilet for the first time in her life! Her pleasure was a joy to behold.

The next day, after the Congress closing ceremony, we joined a similar sized group to visit a project supported by the Peter Clark Memorial Fund (1). Peter’s widow, Linda, had spoken eloquently about the work of the Fund at the Opening Ceremony of the Congress. Led by Linda and Chris Daykin, the Fund Treasurer, we went first to a shelter for teenage boys living rough on the streets, where social workers try to help them to integrate back into society.

The shelter sits under a motorway flyover, close to the city centre, and the Memorial Fund had paid for a significant extension to the building, enabling the social workers to do proper group and one to one therapy with the boys. We were then bussed into the heart of Khayelitsha, to visit The Homestead, a residential hostel for teenage boys who have come off the streets but have no family homes to return to. There we were given a conducted tour by two of the senior boys, who spoke with pride about the success of their football team and their prowess at kick-boxing.

The hostel was an oasis of calm in the teeming township, and the dedication of the people who work with these boys was humbling.

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Peter Clark, died suddenly in June 2006, while president-elect of the IAA, president of the Institute of Actuaries, 2000–2002 and honorary fellow of the Actuarial Society of South Africa. For further information visit www.ikamva.org : www.pnscfund.org.uk