Tsebo & Christel House – Celebrating over a decade of creating a sustainable difference together
Tsebo and Christel House South Africa have had a 10-year partnership that has allowed them to truly make a difference in many lives. Driven by a mutual goal of transforming and enriching the lives of children at all stages of their development, it’s easy to see why this is a remarkable partnership that will continue to grow.
Changing the world where it matters most
Christel House seeks to provide impoverished children with the tools needed to break the cycle of poverty through education and other support. This support starts in Grade RR, when children are around four years old, and continues up until they’ve made their way through university or college. But it’s not just about the curriculum; it’s about a holistic approach to learning, explains Adri Marais, CEO of Christel House South Africa.
“To change the world, you need to enable change. You need to enable education. All of this can only be done if you have the tools to succeed. You need a full stomach; you need to get to school; you need glasses to see. Our magic sits in being able to put children in a position where they can learn and not worry about any of these things,” says Adri.
Twelve buses bring children to the school each day, and they have recently built a pop-up dormitory. This is utilised during matric exams to ensure that children have a safe, warm, quiet space to study during this important phase of their education. Each of these children survives on less than R1500 a month and would otherwise not have access to this type of high-quality education.
A decade in the making
Christel House and Tsebo first crossed paths 10 years ago through its 50-year strong pioneer in contract catering, Fedics. Fedics was tasked with supplying the centre’s catering and running the kitchen.
Touched by what the centre was doing for the children and recognising a shared vision and passion for uplifting the local community, it wasn’t long before the partnership grew to new heights. In 2017, Tsebo started a learner-sponsored programme at the school to empower young women. Each year, Tsebo sponsors five of the girls who attend the school.
The partnership also includes running the Siyakhula farming initiative. “It’s a beautiful relationship because it touches on so many different aspects: enterprise development for Tsebo, a potential income stream for us, and providing educational material for our children. So, it’s really a beautiful story,” Adri explains.
The Siyakhula farming initiative was borne out of the question: “How can Tsebo sustainably support a non-profit organisation?” The idea of starting a farm came from Tsebo’s interest in sustainable food paired with available land. The produce from the farm is used to generate income and is added to the value chain, producing and delivering fresh produce to a commercial partner who in turn delivers to sites across the Western Cape. Christel House will then use the funds to support the centre, providing opportunities for further education to so many more students.
The farm had to be moved from its original location due to drought and contamination of the groundwater in the area. The entire Siyakhula initiative is now situated on the school’s premises. Tsebo currently sponsors 16 tunnels which are used to grow Tsebo sponsored seasonal vegetables, working closely with Christel House to make sure the farming initiative is a success. The structure provides greater control over essential inputs, like water, fertiliser, pest control and temperature. The protection from harsh weather, especially wind, reduce lost crops, allowing the initiative to get more produce to market. In addition, Tsebo recently built and sponsored a cold storage packhouse to ensure that the suitable crops yielded remain fresher for longer.
The farm also provides an opportunity for the children’s parents to become employed and earn an income. They are guided by individuals and businesses with farming know-how to assist them every step of the way. In this way, parents are also able to benefit from the same initiatives afforded to their children.
A collective 70 years of success
While at Tsebo we are celebrating our 50th anniversary, Christel House is also celebrating a major milestone – their 20th anniversary. By working together and building on this collective knowledge and heritage, partnerships like these can be used to change lives across the continent and make a real difference to the lives of people in our communities.