Ubuntu is a Zulu word that translates to “human kindness.” The Ubuntu Education Fund aims to create long lasting change in the impoverished townships of Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

The effectiveness of the program can be credited to its three over-arching programs: household sustainability, health and education. This strategy has “received international acclaim from Bill Clinton to the World Economic Forum.”

“Why can’t our poor children in Africa have an education? Why does it have to be a privilege? Why can’t it be a child’s right?” stated CEO and Co-Founder of The Ubuntu Education Fund Jacob Lief at the grand opening of the Ubuntu Center on Sept. 16, 2010.

The Ubuntu Center is located in the heart of Port Elizabeth’s townships, one of the largest slums in the world. The center offers a pediatric HIV center, pharmacy, classrooms, computer labs and a theater.

“Ubuntu graduates attain successes that few in their community ever realize and, in doing so, they are redefining what the world believes to be possible in disadvantaged communities,” stated Lief.

Since its establishment in 2010, the Ubuntu Center has supported the 2,000 children and indirectly supported the community. A study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that “Ubuntu graduates will contribute $195,000 to society, while their peers will cost society $9,000.”

In addition to providing child health care, the pediatric clinic offers prenatal and postnatal care, HIV and TB testing and treatment.

“Ubuntu’s impact is transformative – from HIV-positive mothers giving birth to healthy, HIV-negative babies, to vocational-tracked youth in our Ubuntu Pathways (UP) program securing employment,” said Lief.

The program also provides child protection services and psychosocial counseling to ensure stable homes in order for children to thrive in their education. The dynamic school program included university scholarships and “job readiness training.”

The program emphasizes “depth rather than breadth of impact” which is why within four years of joining Ubuntu, 82 percent of people are “on-track towards stable health and employment,” said Lief.

Former President Bill Clinton visited the Ubuntu Center in August 2013 and had this to say: “Ubuntu has come so far. We’re very proud of your work. This is an amazing organization that actually ensures its people are taken care of.”

Chelsea Clinton, his daughter, added, “The Ubuntu model is incredible; you start early and work with children their entire lives.”

– Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: Forbes, Ubuntu Blog, YouTube
Photo: Flickr