Forum Rotary & Colchester businessman supporting a Langa Township, South Africa.
Colchester businessman and Forum Rotarian Jonathan Neill and his family visited Cape Town and following a visit to Langa, a South African township, he met tour guide and resident of Langa, Abongile Gwabeni. After being told, for security reasons, to take no valuables or money to the township Jon was unable to put in the collection box at the Langa community centre. Feeling bad at this he asked Abongile what was important to the township and how could he help. Abongile replied sport is very important and creates a great atmosphere - great news for Jon as he just happened to own the largest sports repair company in the UK. Promising Abongile he would sponsor the Langa football team with new kit and strip, that’s exactly what he did. Within weeks of returning home two new strips with equipment was shipped to Langa.
A bit later when we were hit by COVID, Forum discovered Langa needed further support and so Jon arranged for food vouchers to be sent to the local store and enabled food to be provided at this desperate time.
During Jon’s Presidential year (last year) Forum presented over £20,000 to good causes - many of these were local including the Colchester homeless charities, foodbank and youth cancer as well as responding quickly with help to Turkey and Ukrainians with support and equipment for refugees.
But Langa hadn’t been forgotten. The largest international project during Jon’s year was to equip the crèche in Langa with new equipment. Of course Forum members quickly responded with support by organising a dance with the funds raised - £1250 - being used to equip the project with a range of appliances and goods to run the crèche.
International Chairman Stephen Penrose said: “Having been set the challenge the International committee of Forum Rotary set to the task of finding out the list of requirements. Rotary was keen to provide capital items rather than funds for consumable items. A very enjoyable and successful dance was held and £1,250 was raised. To get the items to Langa, the amazing Rotary Club of Somerset West had not only agreed to assist us and was able to secure the items the crèche wanted but obtained them at a good price.
We were able to obtain all the items the creche wanted plus a few additional ones.
A big handover day was arranged with all the items gratefully received and lots of pictures taken – As Abongile said “Your gift means so much to the crèche: laptop, printer, fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, hoover and TV. and on behalf of the Langa community the warmest thanks to you all in Forum who opened your hearts to do amazing things to transform the lives of this little Langa crèche.”
It would seem that, as a result of this project, a new and happy relationship has been struck up between the Somerset West club and the Langa community which will flourish into possibly greater things in the future. Perhaps it was a good thing that Jon left his wallet behind all those years ago!”