Keen Visits Bumbo in South Africa

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The Keen crew flew to Bumbo headquarters in South Africa last week to go over some business items and learn about the amazing charitable aspect of the company. What an amazing trip!

 Bumbo’s Bert Snyman took me around Pretoria to learn more about the company’s charitable arm.  To see Bumbo’s charity involvement in its local community is a truly special thing. The company helps thousands of people every month through several different organizations in and around Pretoria, South Africa, its hometown.  Bumbo filters most of its profits to Maranatha Bana, a non-profit organization that it created. Maranatha Bana runs its own organizations and also helps other charities in Pretoria. By the way, Maranatha Bana loosely means “He will come for the children” in the local Africaans language.

My first stop was to the Maranatha Bana School outside Pretoria. The non-profit school helps children with severe mental and physical disabilities like Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism. They nurture about 30 children from age 4-18 and plan to take up to 100 in the coming years. The work they do will pull at your heartstrings. They often take on children with no communication or social skills and often severe physical disabilities. They work patiently and tirelessly to teach motor skills, cognitive skills and communication skills. This is an environment where getting a child to smile or acknowledge you can be a huge achievement. I walked into a class where the children were learning to recognize themselves in the mirror and it made me quickly realize how we take so many things for granted.

Bumbo purchased the 2 hectare (that’s about 5 acres) plot for the school and helps it pay its bills every month. Bumbo will also help the school build its new facilities in the coming years. The school plans to up its enrollment to 100 children and also have live-in facilities for adults who cannot cope in South African society. The country is fairly advanced, but it does not have the social services to care for disabled people like we do. Charity in South Africa comes from organizations like Maranatha Bana, not the state.

The next place I visited was the Wolmer Center, which feeds and clothes hundreds of people in the poor Wolmer neighborhood of Pretoria. The center takes care of these people with almost no facilities or resources. The activity room, where local women sew dolls and make crafts to sell, also doubles as a church. All of the desks have to be moved outside every Sunday. The clothing “store” where they house their donated clothing is a shack. They have no place to store donated food and are forced to give too much away to prevent spoiling, which actually works against the people receiving it. When the people get too much food they sell it to buy booze or drugs instead of providing for their families. To prevent this, Bumbo is building the center a massive building that will house a new workshop where people can learn skills and earn money. It will have a cooler to preserve food, allowing the center to give away only what is needed. They also will have a new church.

We later visited the Jonibach Sportscentrum, a huge sports complex built by Maranatha Bana/Bumbo. The Sports Center gives local children a place to get off the street and focus their attention on more positive aspects of life. It has basketball courts, badmitton courts, pool and ping-pong tables, a stage for live music, a world-class gymnastics facility and a BMX track. It is a sight to behold. Next door to the Sports Center is a kitchen to feed all the kids and staff that come to the center every day. Some 700+ children are fed there every day—approximately 16,000 meals a month.

Stay tuned for more. I will also post some photos of our adventures.

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