As lockdown brought the world to a halt, the Guardians of the National Treasure (GNT) have been busier than ever, now trying to feed 5000 children across 15 stations in Lavender Hill. Over 8000 miles away in the UK, Professor Stephen Rollnick has been raising thousands of pounds to help feed the children.
Stephen grew up to a Jewish immigrant family in Cape Town. His mother, a writer, was passionately anti-apartheid and had opened the first night school for black people in South Africa. As he moved across the world to start his career, his ties
to Cape Town and the injustices he knew would last for generations were far from forgotten.
Over his 40 year career (and still going) Steve has worked as a clinical psychologist, researcher, professor amongst many another things. He worked in the field of HIV-AIDS for ten years in Africa and cofounded the charity PATA (Pediatric Adolescent Treatment for Africa). His most widely acknowledged work is cofounding Motivational Interviewing (MI) which is where Stephens story meets that of the Guardians of the National Treasure.
Prior to mass lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Stephen was put in touch with Ralph by a South African colleague to offer help with funding for sports equipment. Having written books in both sports and education, Stephen recognises their transformative influence on young lives and was enthralled by the work of Ralph Bouwers in Lavender Hill.
However when the pandemic descended, Ralph's focus quickly shifted from a supply of football boots to social distancing and feeding the children. This was a stark reminder of the realities of Lavender Hill and the importance of the Guardians of the National Treasure in this community.
Using his platform to help the children of Lavender Hill, Stephen ran his first Webinar on April the 29th entitled Motivational Interviewing and Beyond (MI and Beyond) with a message from GNT calling for donations to help the children. Four webinars later, Motivational Interviewing and Beyond has raised over 50,000 rand (nearly $3000) to help feed the children. The money raised has helped buy a gas stove and gas tank to cook and providing the children with daily meals that they may otherwise go without.
In the current situation, sustainability is the priority, making sure every child is fed and safe. But the vision of the Guardians of the National Treasure is not lost. The vision to uplift the children. To empower the community. So the sports will return and transformation in the community will continue to be the focus.
Looking forward, there is great hope for The Guardians of the National Treasure and the work they will be able to do, for Stephen, Ralph is at the very heart of this work, “Ralph Bouwers is like a lighthouse. A towering, generous and passionate human being. Any donors lucky enough to connect with him will be rewarded by his infectious and selfless dedication. Make no mistake, Lavender Hill is a community deeply troubled by its apartheid past and gang-ridden presence. Like few others, Ralph has the ability to bring people together in a constructive way".
On behalf of Stephen, we would like to express our gratitude to Ralph for being a beacon of hope in such a time of uncertainty. And there is no doubt that this is just the beginning of a relationship between Stephen and The Guardians of the National Treasure.