A couple committed to the community

Meet Hymie and Zanele Shabalala.  They are a couple who work hard in their careers, are committed parents … and Chartered clients.  What sets them apart is their view that their family extends beyond their home:  it is their community.  And, helping those in their extended family is what gives them tremendous purpose.  We asked them to share their story.

“My and Hymie’s give-back projects appear to be different because we each focus on issues that we are individually passionate about – this is how we best realise each of our dreams to the best of our ability,” says Zanele.

“I focus on issues affecting women and girls – I can relate to them and this enables me to develop relevant strategies to meet their needs. Hymie, on the other hand, focuses on education and health; his political knowledge and experience of growing up during the struggle for democracy have created the dream for improving these areas,” Zanele adds.

Hymie says his vision is to give every child an equal opportunity to be in school and to obtain a quality education to better their lives without any barriers. He believes that healthy bodies and healthy minds allow young people to live vibrantly.

“We support each other in these projects just as we support each other in our daily lives as a couple and as parents. It is important for us to see each other happy and so we assist each other to reach individual goals and that brings us contentment,” comments Hymie.

What motivates this couple to become so involved in helping others?

Hymie and Zanele are convinced that people from humble beginnings can shape successful futures. “We are passionate about seeing other people’s dreams come alive and believe in a successful community despite all odds,” says Zanele.

Hymie explains. “The Zulu saying ‘umuntu umuntu ngabantu’ means each person needs another. We may not have all the riches in the world nor all the desires of our hearts but we are blessed to have the basic needs and most of our wants. It is only godly to share with those who are less fortunate and or helpless.”

Neither Hymie nor Zanele come from well-off families. They financed their own studies to achieve their qualifications and worked hard to accomplish what they have today. “That is the momentum we want to mobilise in our community, especially among the young people,” says Hymie.

But this does not mean this generous couple give hand-outs.  “You have to work for what you want in life, with all the inequalities and unfairness in the world,” Zanele adds.

Hymie and Zanele have enabled a few young people to attend university, and continue to work to keep young girls in school and to feed those who are hungry in their community.  But there is still more for them to do. “We hope to start a mentorship and bursary programme as our next project,” concludes Hymie.

Hymie’s hands-on building projects improve school facilities and classroom conditions; Zanele’s provision of toiletries for girls facilitates uninterrupted attendance at school.  Both are involved in inviting successful speakers to encourage and inspire learners in local schools.  The Shabalalas are testament to what can be done with hard work and a big dream.


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