What Led to a Great Story of Hope

It is common theory that alleviating poverty within a nation relies on key socio-economic partnerships between government, the private sector and civil society. Presently Executive Chairman of Dancor Properties and Focus on iThemba, Danie van den Heever has followed a deep personal calling and has been instrumental in creating ways in which to do this in South Africa.

Danie was introduced to the teachings of Dr James Dobson and Focus on the Family after attending Harvard Business School in the U.S.A in 1989 and subsequently made the huge career shift from corporate businessman to steering a non-profit organisation. Focus on the Family Africa grew to be a respected ministry throughout the continent as a result of 18 years under Danie’s leadership.

Building on their solid belief in family, and stongly motivated to play a part in reconstructing the social fabric of previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa, Danie and his wife Judy established Focus on iThemba in 2003. iThemba is the isiZulu word for ‘hope’. Focus on iThemba is a non-profit, public benefit (18a) organization that works amongst the communities of the Valley of a Thousand Hills, Hillcrest, Durban.

It is the mission of the organisation to shape future leaders by striving for continuous improvement in education, excellence in parenting, lifting the awareness of high risk behaviours and through dedicated team work always putting the needs of the children first. We know from research and the wisdom of experts that unless young children are given the opportunity to develop their cognitive and mental skills at an early age, South Africa will not have the professional skills base it so desperately requires in the years that lie ahead, with little chance of stemming or reversing the current levels of poverty, crime, illness and lack of hope for a better future.

An important principle for Focus on iThemba is the sustained and long- term assistance that is afforded to beneficiaries through our programmes- enabling real, long-term benefits to their lives and futures. Donors are friends and partners in this process and are much valued for being the platform off which successful educational initiatives can be launched.