Producer: Sophia Phirippides
Presenter: Bongani Bingwa
Date: 23 Dec 2012
The dream began when Carte Blanche turned 20, four years ago, and executive producer, George Mazarakis, had an idea for making a difference: to improve hospitals and medical care for children all over South Africa.
George Mazarakis (Executive Producer: Carte Blanche): "When we first created it, there was no intention to go further than the first R20-million that we'd set out to raise... feeling that we were raising one million for every year we'd been around."
The Carte Blanche Making a Difference campaign was launched in 2008. Throughout the country, charities and hospitals were identified as beneficiaries. In Johannesburg [Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwaneth Academic Hospital], Pretoria [Steve Biko Academic Hospital], Bloemfontein [Universitas Academic Hospital], Kimberley [Kimberley Hospital] and Durban [King Edward VIII Hospital].
George: "I didn't know - none of us knew - what the needs were in the hospitals, so I thought that 20 million sounded like quite a lot of money... A lot of people thought that it sounded like too much money, but actually it wasn't nearly enough money."
Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): "Since its inception, the Carte Blanche Making a Difference campaign has donated over R87-million worth of goods, equipment and services. But, beyond the rands and cents, its real legacy has been the impact on little lives like this little baby [on screen] who can now have a fighting chance."
Patron of the Carte Blanche trust, Karolina Andropoulos, has been key to making sure the sponsors roll in and that all its initiatives gain traction. But what is it that motivates her to do this work?
Karolina Andropoulos (Patron: Making A Difference Trust): "I think it's an idea in my head: I look at maps, and I imagine children in those spaces, and then I try and understand where it is they need to get if they are sick, their moms and them. I've met many a brave mom who needs to get a critically ill child somewhere."
Bongani: "One of the great successes of the campaign is not only the number of lives that have been saved, but really the improvement of the quality of life for patients like little Emily."
Four-year-old Emily Ndlovu was on holiday visiting her father in Zimbabwe. She was out in the fields with her aunt when disaster struck. Her mom, Beauty, wasn't with her at the time.
Beauty Ndlovu (Emily's mother): "Emily told me that she see a snake, but she doesn't know what is that. And then she said she just touch it and then the snake bite her on this finger. And then they take her to the hospital quickly."
Unable to treat her properly in Zimbabwe, she was rushed back to her mom in South Africa, where she was admitted to the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.
Bongani: "What was her hand like at this point?"
Beauty: "It was swollen and it was black, black, black... you know? When they open it and try to help her she start to cry... it was hard for me to face the hand."
Professor Peter Beale, head of paediatric surgery at Charlotte Maxeke, recalls the case.
Prof Peter Beale (Head: Paediatric Surgery, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital): "She was in danger of losing part of her hand and had some procedures and we were able to salvage her hand so that she had a good outcome."
Beauty: "She was telling everybody, 'Look what, here is my hand. Sisters, look at my hand, my hand is out!' She was so happy, and I was happy too."
Both Charlotte Maxeke and Chris Hani Baragwanath are teaching hospitals that fall under Wits University. Together they operate on approximately 300 patients a month. In just over two years, a total of 6 000 children have been operated on at Baragwanath alone in the two operating theatres donated by the Trust.
At Charlotte Maxeke the additional five bed ICU can now attend to a total of 230 patients per year. These are children whose lives may not have been saved otherwise.
Bongani: "And this very ward that we're standing in - what was it like four years ago?"
Prof Beale: "This area was designated to be a paediatric surgery ICU and it never ever happened for almost 30 years, until Carte Blanche came along and this became what it was originally intended to be."
Dr Jerome Loveland, who heads up paediatric surgery at Chris Hani Baragwanath, says the indirect effects of the campaign are immeasurable.
Dr Jerome Loveland (Head: Paediatric Surgery, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital): "Here at Baragwanath, recently we've opened the neonatal surgical ICU and that's attracted 12 to 16 new nursing staff that want to come and work there because it's a great environment."
Dr Loveland says that the hospitals are now attracting registrars and trainees from around the country, as well as Fellows from overseas who want to learn at these facilities. With the financial assistance of the campaign, some young South African doctors spent six months in the UK. Dr Andrew Grieve, who went on a study fellowship at Kings College Hospital in London, says it was a privilege to work under Dr Mark Davenport, who heads up the paediatric unit there.
Andrew Grieve (Paediatric surgeon, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital): "He actually assisted me with a couple of cases and I was the primary surgeon. And, for me, that was just fantastic to have him there at my side to guide me through."
Bongani: "What have you been able to achieve since your return?"
Dr Grieve: "I've come back into an environment where obviously there is a huge service delivery demand. I've been fortunate that some of the tools and skills that I've picked up in [the] UK I have been able to use here."
Functioning at a world class level has opened up opportunities internationally. John Deere made a donation for education, and this enabled the Trust to contribute towards hosting a congress on children's liver diseases here in South Africa.
Dr Loveland: "The idea existed in fact prior to the campaign, but it started off as a seed, and through the campaign and access to funding we were able to make it a reality."
The campaign has relied largely on creating sustainable partnerships that will carry on the legacy. One such initiative is KFC's Add Hope feeding partnership. Dave Timm is the marketing director for KFC.
Dave Timm (Managing Director: KFC): "We always felt very confident that... in partnership with Carte Blanche... that whatever money we invested was going to be spent really well."
The Add Hope trust feeds children throughout South Africa.
Bongani: "How does your partnership with the Making a Difference Campaign actually work?"
Dave: "We generally provide the finances to yourselves within a particular area where [the] Making a Difference Campaign will be providing funding for other things. And this really adds up to a sustainable partnership that has real synergy."
The Carte Blanche Trust supports three charities, one of which is the 1 000 Hills Community Helpers, run by Dawn Leppan. It provides 2 400 meals per day, serving a broad community of 29 000 people.
Dawn Leppan (1 000 Hills Community Helpers): "It hasn't been easy. I have had days when I've thought of families that I could help and I haven't had the resources to do it."
Dave: "I have great respect for Dawn and the team people that she works with. They do an amazing job for an enormous community in need."
Another charity Carte Blanche supports - which includes a feeding scheme - is the Johannesburg Parent and Child Counselling Centre.
Jacqui Michael (Johannesburg Parent and Child Counselling Centre): "We give out 150 food parcels per month to the families whom we counsel."
Jacqui Michael of the JPCCC says that the Hartbeespoort initiative would not have survived without the campaign's assistance.
Jacqui: "When we originally came to you it's because we had not received funding for two or three years and so we were in a crisis."
The JPCCC was being funded by the National Lotteries Board, who had not paid them for a number of years. Carte Blanche came on board and, at the informal settlement of Schaumberg, a preschool was expanded - to cater for a hundred children - with an ablution block, a social work office, and a renovated kitchen.
Bongani: "What's the legacy of the campaign?"
Jacqui: "We have now an established branch in Hartbeespoort, which is virtually independent of Johannesburg. There is a safe place for children to be during the day. The campaign has given us a presence where people know they can come... they can be helped."
[Carte Blanche 2009] Child 1: "Now we feel like there are more people wanting to help us... more people loving us."
Johannesburg Child Welfare is also supported by the Carte Blanche Trust, and one of its most sustainable projects is the building of a kitchen and a bakery at Masibambasani After Care Centre. And now they bake - and sell - their own daily bread. 2
But our proudest moment came in 2012: the creation of an entire hospital, the King Edward VIII Paediatric Centre of Excellence, in KwaZulu-Natal. The initial sponsorship was R20-million from BHP Billiton, but the building that was finally handed over to the State was valued at three times that amount because of generous donations from other companies and individuals.
George: "That speaks volumes to the generosity of South Africans, and that leaves me feeling a lot of hope for the future."
Bongani: "It was Nelson Mandela who said at the end of a long struggle, 'When you've reached the mountaintop, you can only but pause briefly before coming down and attempting the next challenge'. Much has been achieved with this campaign, but the work is far from over."
And the under-resourced Frere Hospital in the Eastern Cape is in serious need of assistance.
Karolina: "Frere is next. I think that we're all fairly aware that the Eastern Cape is an area that has many challenges, and we'd like to be part of the solution."
Bongani: "How much do you need for Frere?"
Karolina: "We'd need 15 million [rand] for starters, but just for starters... We'll be asking for more in just a few months from now."
Bongani: "R87-million and counting... where to from here?"
George: "Well, we have to get to a hundred before our birthday next year. But that's not enough, so the campaign has a long way to go. Carte Blanche won't let up on it and, above all, won't let up on the children.