Ghairunisa Johnstone, Founder and Director of Mustadafin Foundation (a non-profit organisation operating across the Western Cape and Eastern Cape to uplift communities and empower people), describes herself as a servant of the community, who from the young age of 13 years old found meaning in the act of giving of herself and her time to those in need.
In 1986, a concerned group of friends with a passion and commitment in making a difference in their local community, decided to do something about the plight of those less fortunate than themselves, and so the Mustadafin Foundation was born. Spearheaded by Ghairunisa Johnstone, the group regularly went into informal settlements to assist the less fortunate with preparing food, clothing, health care and education.
As time passed, many of the founders moved on when limited funding made it difficult for the non-profit organisation to sustain itself financially. This did not deter Johnstone who was determined to keep meeting the communities’ growing needs and worked tirelessly to assist the less fortunate with only a driver as support. During this time the non-profit organisation educated, served and empowered the destitute in being self-sufficient, self-reliant and independent.
“During 2013 we worked closely with 150 youth in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, many of whom attended our youth skills projects, and helped place them in entry level jobs. Sustainability is fundamental in these situations and we provide the necessary tools to people so they can take care of themselves and their families,” says Johnstone.
Education is at the heart of the organisation’s programmes and they use this tool to empower people to make fundamental changes in their lives by providing skills development workshops, job creation programmes, lifestyle workshops and disaster prevention training. One of Mustadafin Foundation’s daily challenges is funding. Without financial backing the organisation is faced with scarcity of resources, a lack of proper facilities and staff capacity.
“Another challenge for us is the places we visit and assist on a daily basis. These communities are often volatile, posing a great safety and security risk. Development within the communities we serve is hindered by gangs, violence and social apathy,” explains Johnstone. But these challenges are not deterring Mustadafin Foundation to meet its goals. Johnstone says their greatest achievement of the past year was to issue a number of school and tertiary study bursaries for children in need as well as to clothe almost 600 orphans for Eid celebrations. Another proud moment was being recognised in a study at the University of Durban Westville as the number one non-profit organisation in South Africa for delivery with the minimum funds spent on administration.
“Our aim for the end of 2014 is to be a household name in the regions we operate in as the place where people can volunteer to serve the needy, share skills and send their monthly donations to support community development. The best way for people to get involved with our work is to support us financially or to sign-up for volunteering in our numerous projects,” concludes Johnstone.
For any more information about Mustadafin Foundation, and to find out how to donate or to volunteer your skills or equipment for the organisation’s various projects, please visit www.mustadafin.org.za or contact 021-633-0010.