Sozo Foundation on its journey to greatness

Since 2011, youth development organisation, the Sozo Foundation has been making a profound impact on the community of Vrygrond on the Cape Flats, and FoodBank SA is helping them achieve this success.

About the Sozo Foundation

In 2010, husband and wife team, Anton and Elana Cuyler moved to Cape Town to volunteer as youth workers. Children living in a community plagued by gangsterism, violence and crime, and exposed to abuse and rejection were in dire need of support and guidance and the Cuyler’s believed that it was their calling to get involved and make a difference.

Moved by what they had seen, they established the Sozo Foundation in partnership with The Bay Community Church who gave its full backing and support. The couple consulted with a community development specialist and devised projects that would provide practical solutions to the needs of the community.

Their core functions

The non-profit organisation creates opportunities for holistic community development by focusing on education, the development of skills, youth empowerment and overall wellbeing.

They run five core projects:

  1. ‘Educentre’, which tutors and mentors high school learners.
  2. ‘Eden’ trains individuals in organic home gardening techniques.
  3. ‘Youth Café’ offers skills development for unemployed youth.
  4. ‘Life skills’ equips members of the community with much needed skills.
  5. ‘Design’ provides graphic design courses and the opportunity to earn a living.

The growth of the Sozo Foundation

Since inception, the Sozo Foundation has grown tremendously and continues to experience increasing favour within the community. The organisation now employs 38 full-time employees to run its various operations.

Anton and Elana implement new projects every year, increasing the impact of the foundation. The future of Vrygrond gets brighter with every tutoring session, gardening workshop and life skills course offered.

Achievements

Due to growing support of its Educentre, the Sozo Foundation now has between 10 to 30 tutors. The organisation is also partnered with Out The Box Training to facilitate an engaging study-tips workshop for Grade 11 and 12 learners. This support has resulted in a pass rate of 83% and an attendance rate of 93% in 2014.

In an effort to further inspire learners supported by the organisation, its founders made provision for scholars to attend a recent Design Indaba. At the Design Indaba scholars could learn about various professions in the creative industry. A number of individuals from the group expressed a keen interest in design, which resulted in the launch of the Sozo Basics in Design course. Those that have completed the course now offer design services to businesses as a means of generating income.

In June 2016, the Sozo Foundation won a Gold Ministerial Youth Excellence Award.

Partnership with FoodBank SA

Thanks to FoodBank SA, the Sozo Foundation is able to feed its beneficiaries four days a week, as well as on excursions. The donations allow the organisation to save on its grocery bill, which enables them to redirect available funds to further development of the foundation.

“The donations we receive from FoodBank SA impact our organisation greatly by helping us provide healthy and nutritious meals to our learners. Thank you to FoodBank SA for partnering with us on this incredible journey of restoring dignity, purpose and hope”, said the foundation’s Arlene Bock.