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Helen Lieberman is the founder of Ikamva Labantu and gives her whole life to uplifting people in Cape Town's township communities. She also sits on the Board of various organisations, including Mensch.
It all started in 1963 when South Africa was still suffering under the apartheid regime. Helen, a young speech therapist, drove into Langa a township on the outskirts of Cape Town to find a young patient who had been prematurely discharged from the hospital. What she encountered there was squalor, fear, poverty and desperation as well as compassion, generosity and warmth. It changed her life. Working with the women she met in the townships, Helen went on to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of others mobilising individuals to better their communities. The insights she gained and the relationships she developed with community leaders on this and her many subsequent visits built the foundation that led to the formation of Ikamva Labantu.
In 2017 Helen was “overwhelmed” when she was informed of her latest and possibly most prestigious award as Officier de la Légion d’Honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honour) “in recognition of her lifelong commitment to the eradication of poverty, injustice and human misery”. The honour is the highest that France can bestow on a foreign citizen.
Lieberman has lost none of the passion and sense of purpose that has driven her efforts over the past 54 years and is still actively involved on the ground. “I wake up in the morning and I want to be there,” she says simply.
Ikamva Labantu "'the future of our nation'' is a community-driven non-governmental, non-profit organisation that delivers many social support services to underdeveloped communities in Cape Town. We believe that every human being has the right to a dignified life. Thus, we are committed to creating positive and lasting social and economic change in township communities. Ikamva Labantu equips communities with the information, support and resources necessary for them to become self-sufficient and sustainable. The NGO focuses in the areas of: Early Childhood Development; Child and Youth Enrichment; Seniors and Support Services in the areas of health, family and community relations.
I believe that every human being has the right to a dignified life.
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