SELFLESS SPIN DOCTOR INSPIRES THE YOUNG
Unlike most people, who spend Christmas with their families exchanging gifts and eating sumptuous meals, Sizwe Kupelo gives up his precious time to entertain needy and vulnerable children.
The new Eastern Cape government spokesperson has been hosting children from rural areas, organising jumping castles for them, helicopter rides, and treating them and their parents to feasts – mostly out of his own pocket and with the assistance of generous donors.
Through the Sizwe Kupelo Foundation, a registered not-for-profit organisation he started in 2008, the spin doctor has touched many young, rural lives.
“The aim is not to just feed them; it is to inspire them. Today, some of these kids are talking about wanting to be pilots because they have been in a helicopter,” he said.
Kupelo, who spent more than a decade as the health department spokesperson serving under six different MECs, has quietly been fuelling one of his passions and making a difference in the lives of children from poor backgrounds.
“Since its inception, the foundation has helped children who suffer from health complications by arranging specialist private healthcare,” he said.
Although he started hosting Christmas parties for children in his village of Mkankatho in Libode, he has since moved to other areas.
He told City Press this week that he would have a special treat for 1 000 children in Tsholomnqa outside East London, where he will spoil them with food, toys and jumping castles.
“Since 2008, I have not been spending Christmas with my family like most people. I spend it with the needy because I believe they also deserve happiness. I take my own children to these parties so they can witness the spirit of giving.”
He said what gave him fulfilment was to see the faces of joy from those he helped.
“When I see someone in desperate need for help, I get emotional and cry. I always feel I need to do something to assist.”
The foundation relies on gifts from individuals, professionals and small businesses.
“We always emphasise that we don’t want monetary contributions, and appeal to donors to buy gifts or any other essentials for donation,” he said.
As part of the back-to-school programme next month, the foundation will partner with various businesses to assist 14 schools in Lusikisiki and Mthatha. The schools will receive state of the art tablets for teachers and other administration staff, school shoes and uniforms for poor learners.
According to Kupelo, the back-to-school campaign, which was launched in 2011, has already benefited 15 000 children and has helped to provide bursaries, laptops – that have been awarded to top matric achievers – and school uniforms.
“We want to make sure that, with our partners in business, we continue to help connecting rural schools to access the internet so they can at least have basic things like email.
“Our aim is to assist disadvantaged communities access resources they normally would not have,” said Kupelo.
Sizwe Kupelo (second from left) at one of the Christmas parties he organises for needy children