Lift as you rise
On this the fifth anniversary of the formal registration of the Gondwana Care Trust I reflect on the past five years, the impact that we have had and most importantly I reflect on why we do this.
The first realization that comes to mind is that it is not about the past five years. It is about the past 26 years. The tone was set right at the beginning when effort and money was spent on uplifting our people and giving back to nature what belonged to nature. It would have been easier and more profitable not to. But a small and financially struggling Gondwana did. Gondwana was not born big but was born a deeply purpose driven company.
“Lift as you rise,” is an African saying which means to uplift those around you, not once you have reached a certain status or “height” in life but to take those in need along with you on the journey. Lift others as you rise and not only once you have risen.
We often fall in the trap of living and giving in the future. “If only I can earn so much or if only, I reach that goal, then I can really start giving back.”
The sad reality is that if you and your children go to bed every night with a full belly, you probably have more than most people in our country. This might sound pessimistic but that leads to my second realization. We never have, and never will base our desire to lift and make a positive impact on guilt. Instead, it is grounded in love. It is based on a deep desire to make the world a better place, to contribute to building the new Namibia to the benefit of all who call her home.
When I joined Gondwana as CEO in 2017, I found a loosely organized “Gondwana Memes” comprising of deeply passionate Gondwana employees (all female) who did amazing lifting, including from their own pockets. I am proud to say that three of those “Memes” are still trustees of the Gondwana Care Trust today: Dgini Visser, Sonia Noirfalise and Iroleen Hurter (and passionate as ever).
I soon realized that this (almost intimidating) passion that I saw from the Gondwana Memes is underutilized and hence the registration of the Gondwana Care Trust. I am not good at giving myself credit, but this time I was right. Many less fortunate Namibians have benefitted from this untapped passion; and accordingly many donors (local and international) are now financially poorer and spiritually richer for it . These women do not take no for an answer. Their passion is also deeply infectious.
I am humbled to have been part of this journey of the past years as a trustee, together with the other trustees Chris Gouws and Quintin Hartung. Chris always brings wisdom and a challenge to do more, and Quintin has become a hands-on champion who loves to see the difference that he makes. There are no trustee fees and only direct administrative costs, but believe me, we are enriched by this most noble of work.
It is indeed better to give than it is to get.
We as trustees may formally represent the Trust, but in actual fact we have 1000 trustees, as every Gondwana employee contributes in some way or form.
Why do we do this?
I can start by telling you what it is not – it is not a branding exercise. It is not marketing. This is not about Gondwana. This is all about impact, no matter who gets the credit. That is also what we measure – impact on the people or project on the ground.
Dgini shared a most beautiful perspective recently… In the work we do there is a difference between a beggar and a beginner. I believe this difference is not determined by who or how help is asked, but rather by the perspective and attitude of the giver.
At the Gondwana Care Trust, we back the beginners. Whether you are a recipient of a meal from the MealForTwo Project, a child who gets a Christmas Bag or a learner in a Pre-Primary funded by the Care Trust – you are a beginner, and we back you. Not merely as the Gondwana Care Trust but as fellow Namibians who love to lift as we rise.
No reflection on the past five years will be truthful without touching on the past two. When the pandemic started, we were not sure if Gondwana would survive and cash contributions from Gondwana had to be stopped. We stared into the abyss not only as a company but also as the Care Trust with the devastating prospect of letting all our beneficiaries know that our projects will stop right at a time when they would need this help more than ever.
I will never forget the day during hard lockdown when I received a call from a senior manager of Capricorn Asset Management who informed me that they are making a N$ 150.000 contribution to the Gondwana Care Trust, so that we could continue providing meals to the most vulnerable through the MealForTwo program. They gave before we could ask. It broke my heart, in the most beautiful way. I shared the news with the other trustees and a few more hearts broke.
That was the start of one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Over the next two years we not only continued with our projects, but we increased their impact through the contributions of amongst others Capricorn Foundation, FNB Foundation, PSG Namibia, Wecke and Voigts, Global United, Sea Pride Namibia, Kaleidoscope, Potentia, Deep Catch, Indongo Toyota, African Marketing... and every single amazing human being who contributed to keep the Gondwana Care Trust going.
It is because of this amazing goodwill of others that I can humbly state today that we even lifted as we fell.
Tourism is coming back and Gondwana has now reinstated its contributions to the Trust. May it never, ever, ever need to be paused again. Our passion and desire to make an impact are unfortunately only eclipsed by the needs out there, so we will always continue to ask for help, in any form whatsoever, or simply to join us on this journey of lifting our beginners as we all rise as a nation. In cooperation with a local artisan, we have created a collection of handcrafted jewellery in pure silver and Namibian tourmaline.
The proceeds of these items go towards our yearly Gondwana Care Trust projects. Wear us proudly and show your love.
Written by Gys Joubert