Soul of Africa

Soul of Africa is a charitable initiative and a self-sustainable project created to facilitate employment and funding aimed at helping orphans affected by AIDS through the sale of hand-stitched shoes. Unemployed and unskilled women in South Africa are trained to hand-stitch shoes, giving them the self-empowering abililty to become economically autonomous.The SOA Trust receives a percentage of sales from the shoes which it uses to develop projects focused around orphans affected by AIDS.
Jun 20, 2012

Soul Of Africa - Leaving a Legacy

Looking after our children.. our future
Looking after our children.. our future


An estimated 5.6million people were living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa in 2009, the highest number of people in any country.  In the same year, it was estimated that 310,000 South Africans died of AIDS-related causes, reflecting the huge number of lives that the country has lost to AIDS over the last couple of decades.


 South Africa’s HIV and AIDS pandemic has had a devastating effect on the children of the country.  There were an estimated 330,000 under 15’s living with HIV in 2009, a figure that has almost doubled since 2001.  HIV in South Africa is transmitted predominantly through heterosexual sex, with mother-to-child transmission being the other main infection route.  Because the virus is transmitted from the child’s mother in cases of mother-to-child transmission, the HIV-infected child is born into a family where the virus may have already had a sever impact on health, income, productivity and the ability to care for each other.

The age brackets that AIDS most heavily targets – younger adults – means it is not uncommon for one or more parents to die for AIDS while their offspring are young.  The number of premature deaths due to HIV/AIDS has risen significantly over the last decades from 39% to 75% in 2010.


The loss of a parent not only has an immense emotional impact on children, but, for most families can spell financial hardship.  One survey on HIV’s impact on households found that, ‘80% of the sample would lose more than half their per capita income and with the death of the highest income earner, suggesting a lingering and debilitating shock of death.”


It is estimated there are over 2million AIDS orphans where one or both parents are deceased in South Africa, and that the HIV and AIDS pandemic is responsible for half of the country’s orphans.  Another estimate puts the proportion of maternal orphans – those who have lost their mother – orphaned by AIDS as over 70%.  Orphans may put pressure on older relatives who become their primary carers;  they may have to relocate from their familiar neighbourhood and siblings may be split apart, all of which can harm their development.  Child Headed Households are also very often the result of both parents passing away – the oldest child takes over the parenting responsibility, which is debilitating.


Despite global commitments to combat HIV and AIDS and to reduce child mortality, more than 1000 children continue to be newly infected with HIV every day and life-saving anti-retroviral treatment remains absent for the majority of children living in low-and middle-income areas…. more than half these children will die as a result of AIDS. In addition, millions more children every year are indirectly affected by the pandemic as a result of the death and suffering caused in their families and communities.

 Preventing HIV infection, providing life prolonging treatment and relieving the impact of HIV and AIDS for children and their families and communities is possible.  However, a lack of necessary investment and resources for adequate testing, anti-retroviral drugs, and prevention programmes, as well as stigma and discrimination, mean children continue to suffer the consequences of the pandemic.


 Soul Of Africa aims to lessen the impact of HIV on orphans and vulnerable children and youth through the sale of hand-stitched shoes.  These shoes are hand-stitched by previously unemployed women in South Africa which in turn  promotes local industry and creates self-sustainable employment in a country that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.  Profits from the shoe sales are donated to the Soul Of Africa Trust to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa.  Since 2005 Soul Of Africa has raised over $2million… ensuring children are able to survive beyond childhood.


It’s as simple as buying a pair of shoes or making a donation on the Global Giving website!!!!!  Visit our website have a look at the Soul Of Africa range or to follow more of our projects.

As South African President Jacob Zumu outlined in a landmark 2009 World AIDS Day speech, South Africa has had to overcome massive challenges in its past:  “At another moment in our history, in another context, the liberation movement observed that the time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices:  submit or fight!  That time has now come in our struggle to overcome AIDS.  Let us declare now, as we declared then, that we shall not submit!”


The figure below show the number of children (defined by UNAIDS as under-15’s) directly affected by HIV/AIDS:

  • At the end of 2010, there were 3.4million children living with HIV around the world.
  • An estimated 390,000 children became newly infected with HIV in 2010.
  • Of the 1.8million people who died of AIDS during 2010, one in seven were children.  Every hour, around 30 children die as a result of AIDS.
  • There are more than 16million children under the age of 18 who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
  • Most children living with HIV/AIDS – almost 9 in 10 – live in sub-Saharan Africa, the region of the world where AIDS has taken its greatest toll.
















child headed households - very common in SA
child headed households - very common in SA
stitching shoes to save lives in South Africa!!!
stitching shoes to save lives in South Africa!!!


Mar 21, 2012

Making a Difference to Lost Childhoods...

Lost Childhoods
Lost Childhoods

The number of AIDS orphans thrust into parenthood in South Africa paints a grim picture of reality.  Child headed household are not uncommon throughout Kwa-Zulu Natal - the hardest hit province in South Africa – long the hardest-hit nation in the world.  Sadly these many of these children will never have an education or know what it feels like to kick a soccer ball around or play with a doll…. to just be a child….

In 2006, Beauty Memela, a then 36-year-old mother living in the AIDS ravaged Valley of Inanda had a dream that she thought she would never be able to turn into a reality.  Distressed by the growing number of child headed households in the area Beauty knew she had to somehow make a plan to look after the younger orphans so that their siblings would be able to go back to school and get the education they so desperately needed - to make something of their lives ….  The South African government does not fund many or enough pre-school programmes so Beauty approached her local church and from a rusting tin shack on the property of the church – Khethokuhle was born.  The small tin shack was divided into two rooms – a tiny classroom and a minute kitchen where meals (when food was available) could be cooked for the children.

Besides looking after orphans from child headed households, Khethokuhle was providing a vital service to the community, where unemployment is rife and mothers who have jobs need somewhere safe to leave their children when they go to work. Sexual and physical abuse is commonly experienced by children who are left to roam around with no supervision. Apart from scarring the children psychologically, this adds to the already severe AIDS situation.

It didn’t take long before Beauty’s Khethokuhle which means ‘to look after well’ was packed to the rafters with 30 eager pre-school children from the age of 3months to five years old and Beauty realized that another plan would have to be made.  She approached Rotary for help who in turn contacted Soul Of Africa who immediately took the opportunity to help Beauty look after her children well!

Soul Of Africa raises money to assist AIDS affected orphans in South Africa.  They raise money to assist Child Care Development Centres (CCDC’s) which house, feed and educate orphans through the sale of shoes.  These shoes are hand-stitched by unemployed women from Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, who are not only earning a living but are also learning valuable skills therefore self sustainable employment.  To date over R15million has been raised.

Soul Of Africa spent R173,222.00 ($18,428, £10,562) building a new Child Care Development Centre for the children and Rotary donated R200,000 ($25,445, £14,412) toward the building of toilets and supplying water tanks, fencing, carpeting, furniture, mattresses as well as educational material and teaching aids. Whilst Soul Of Africa fund the brick and mortar to build the Child Care Development Centres while Rotarians pay for just about everything else, including kitchen equipment, teacher training, books, toys an even gardening tools. Rotarians also monitor expenditures, select and implement projects and provide hands-on volunteer help.

Tirelessly working through the years to assist these children who have become like her own, Beauty, who is in her second year of pre-school training thanks to Soul Of Africa and Nelru, is testament to the fact that we can all make a difference no matter how big or small.  Talking about her next big dream, Beauty says, “Many of my children are orphans dropped off by their older brothers and sisters on their way too and from school,” as she indicates to a boy of three devouring a bowl of porridge with rapt attention.  “He’s left here by his sister of 14.  They must walk four kilometers from where they stay with relatives, and often there is no food.  We give all our little ones breakfast and lunch, but it would be wonderful to feed their older siblings too when they come to fetch them, and have facilities here for them to do homework and play a bit too.”  This dream can be turned into a reality with your help… It’s as simple as buying a pair of Soul Of Africa Shoes!

*Child Care Development Centres

Child Care Development Centres (CCDC's) have been developed with Rotary, offering assistance in the poorest areas. The South African Government has a very limited budget for funding pre-school programs, and due to extreme poverty and pressure AIDS has put on informal communities, a system has developed where a 'grandmother' figure is taking pre-school children in for the day, offering care and food (where possible). Without these informal pre-schools, children are left alone, neglected and often abused. Rotary helps identify recipients and together with Soul Of Africa, builds classrooms, supplies educational equipment, fencing, toilets, food, training and assists with access to healthcare.

**Nelru (Natal Early Learning Resource Unit)

Natal Early Learning Resource Unit (NELRU) is a Pre-School Teacher Training Centre that has been active since 1979 and to date hundreds of thousands of children have benefited from their training courses and in-service training of teachers.  Their aim is to facilitate pre-school education by providing support, resources and training to communities, organizations and committees endeavoring to provide educare for their children.  NELRU also acts as an upliftment and resource centre for disadvantaged communities all of Kwa-Zulu Natal.  Working in under-privileged areas, they promote pre-school education and upgrade crèches by putting in educational programmes, doing in-service training, running lecture courses, workshops etc.

NELRU are going to train Beauty and the 3 caregivers that work with her:  Maria, Nomvula and Penelope, and Soul Of Africa are funding this training at an amount of  R58,938.10


(for more information on Soul Of Africa visit

Khethokuhle Before
Khethokuhle Before
Khethokuhle After
Khethokuhle After
Beauty Memela
Beauty Memela


Feb 22, 2011

Mnamatha Building update part 4


After the Blessing of the Mnamatha School building last month, building of the toilets and classrooms quickly got underway – great excitement ensued a little frustration as builders faced problems not unusual to projects in rural South African Townships.  This, however, did not deter builders and the Clarks, Soul Of Africa Mnamatha Project is fully underway.

The Clarks Kicking for Soul Of Africa Campaign over the World Cup Period has enabled Soul Of Africa to bring a positive change to this little school in Botha’s Hill, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa where the HIV / AIDS pandemic is waging war.  Clarks donated 50p on their children’s training shoe brand called CICA, to Soul Of Africa for the specific use on the Mnamatha School Project.  The total amount raised throughout the duration of the campaign has been an incredible R580 000.00 (£50,000.00).  This money is being used to build a new toilet block for the children who (all 441 of them) are sharing 6 noxious portable toilets (see Clarks Kicks for Soul Of Africa World Cup Campaign Huge Success Press release on; 2 staff toilets, a new classroom and a brand new computer room.

The first hurdle builders faced was NO water!  Someone in the community thought it was a rather good idea to tap into the schools water system and divert the water from the school to their home instead of having to pay for water.  The local council has been very supportive and the problem should be rectified by this week.

The new classroom and computer room were going to be built onto the existing classroom structures, but when the foundations to the existing classrooms were checked - there weren’t any!  Nothing deters the Mnamatha Builders (who are part of the community), so, an extra two walls have been built, and both of the classrooms will be free-standing units.

Despite the hurdles faced, the energy at Mnamatha is unmistakable, and excitement grows on a daily basis, as Patrick (Mnamatha’s Headmaster), staff, pupils and Soul Of Africa watch the building progress that is going to make such a big difference in these children’s lives.

More information about the Mnamatha, Clarks Project can be found online at hyperlink

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something…. Author unknown