A Businesswoman of the Year, Lee den Hond has climbed Mount Everest and plans to run across a desert – all for a good cause.
Written by: Samantha Hartshorne
Pictures by: NHLANHLA PHILLIPS
Whoever will be kind to them?
...are the words that spurred Lee den Hond to summit Mount Everest and raise more than R1 million to build a children's centre for a community near Hartbeespoort Dam. The chief executive has made her accomplishment count for the hundreds of needy children she has come to know.
"Many of them are child-headed households - there are about 2500 kids in the community."
As the owner of successful company Blue Platinum events, and a Businesswoman of the Year winner, Den Hond is no stranger to challenges. But she has found a passion beyond achieving personal goals – Mount Everest was just the beginning of her journey with Field of Dreams.
“I am planning to run the Marathon des Sables next year in Morocco. It is a seven-day unassisted run across the desert. My big challenge there will be sore feet and the heat.”
Her charity, Field of Dreams, will once again benefit from money she raises from which she plans to build a clinic.
The clinic she is planning to build at Field of Dreams will bring much-needed chronic care and emergency services to the
community. “I appeal to all South Africans to run this race with me and help me achieve even more for the kids.”
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
The 18th of July 2016 was a special morning for all of the pre-schoolers at the Schaunmburg Combined School in honour of Mandela Day. All pre-schoolers received hot dogs, lucky packets and toys.
Tshwane Mobile Health Consulting has been involved with the community of Schaumburg for over six months and has been providing primary health care services to both adults and children there. Before commencement of services, TMHC conducted a Health Risk Assessment to obtain the baseline health problems in order to formulate a responsive health programme to meet the needs of the community.
To date, TMHC has seen more than two hundred children falling within the ages of 0 – 12 years old with health-related problems. Most of the problems seen there are related to the living conditions under which they live in and to a greater extent, related to poverty. The following are challenges which have been picked up during consultation with the community of Schaumburg.
Health challenges of children between the ages birth – 12 years
Most children presented with conditions related to malnutrition: scabies, skin problems, vitamin deficiency conditions.
Immunization: most children either have never received their scheduled immunizations or have skipped a few vaccinations. This predisposes them to secondary infections / illness.
Burn wounds, especially now in winter, as a result of lack of supervision from parents and use of coal stoves.
Most presented with infestations from worms (ringworms and tapeworms) due to poor living conditions.
A few cases of poisoning (paraffin or rat poisoning) have also been noted.
Diarrheal and vomiting condition (running stomach).
Over and above the conditions mentioned, there cases of minor ailment like flu, stomach aches, toothaches, etc.
Other general problems relate to lack of proper documentation (birth certificates) and that makes if difficult for them to receive help from hospitals.
Benefits of having a permanent clinic
The presence of a permanent and sustainable healthcare clinic will go a long way in managing present health-related problems.
There will be an immediate response to treatable health conditions before they complicate.
There will be easy access to health care at a time convenient to the community.
Medical emergencies will be immediately seen, stabilized and managed and / or referred to other facilities, thus saving lives.
There will be continuous support to the parents in as far as health education is concerned.
Treatable and preventable illnesses will be easily managed and treated if there is access to the clinic every day.
Watch the Field of Dreams video
The Field of Dreams facilitates a “Holiday Programme” where the children can safely spend the day during their school holidays.
Each child receives food for the day as well as has the opportunity to play sport , namely soccer , netball and recreational games.
The toy and book library is also open for the children to enjoy.
“I love the way knitting brings people together.”
– Debbie Macomber, A Good Yarn
As Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the author of At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit To Much remarks, “Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.”.
We agree. So a humble knitting and sewing project is being run with women from the community. Wool and needles have been donated and we hope to scale this project over the summer. All wool, needles and pattern donations are warmly welcomed!
“Whatever good things we build end up building us.”
– Jim Rohn
We broke ground on 19 May 2015 and hope to have the Centre fully built by the end of November. The Centre is a large building with 525 square metres under roof cover. The windows are set low in the wall so the children will be able to see outside when undertaking activities inside.
An amazing team of people, largely drawn from the community, under the supervision of master builder Nico of Nilene Construction, are working full-time to ensure we conclude the building on time. We have already completed the refurbishment of the old structure adjacent to the Centre which has been turned into a lovely admin centre housing the offices of the social workers. Check out the gallery for the latest pictures of the progress of the structure.
“The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”
The main rationale behind the Centre is to create a safe play space for children to play. Play is the way children learn about themselves and about the world. The benefits of play time for children are well-documented and uncontested. Kids learn through play to share, to get along with others and resolve conflict, to laugh, to speak and articulate and to develop their motor skills.
We are seeking donations of good condition second-hand wooden and steel jungle gyms. One has already been donated and installed and is providing hours of joy to children!
The Centre officially opened on the 5th of December, so our aim for the Open Day was to have every facility and activity operational.
The Gardening and Sewing Projects were operational.
The Soccer field / pitch officially opened.
The Toy and Book Library officially opened its doors.
The Clinic was available, which included TB Workshops and Testing.
Each child received food parcels on the day.
Netball and recreational games were enjoyed by all!!!