Karen Koch is and continues to be one of Sparrow Schools’ longtime friend and an Educate A Child supporter. We caught up with her to get to know her better and what inspires her passion for our Educate A Child programme.
Q: How long have you been involved with the EAC programme?
A: I’ve been involved for about two years now.
Q: Why did you choose to get involved with Sparrow Schools and EAC? Why does this cause matter to you?
A: As part of a middle management development programme at work, teams were assigned an NGO to work with, and Sparrow Schools was one of them. Although I wasn’t part of the team that worked with Sparrow, one of the team members told me about the work you do and I was inspired to start getting involved. I believe that the only way to alleviate the poverty and help reduce crime in SA is by educating people so that they are able to find employment. By educating people who would otherwise have been failed by the system, and especially through the apprenticeship programme, Sparrow is doing something tangible to make our country a better place. At about the same time, I also heard a guy who had previously been homeless but had then been to your chef school, call in to Radio 702 to ask for work in a professional kitchen, and someone offered him a job on the spot. It was truly heart-warming.
Q: How important do you think giving back is?
A: Firstly, I believe it is a Biblical principle – I am only a steward (not the owner) of what I receive, and it is my duty to help those less fortunate. Besides being a duty, it is also a privilege to help others who are not as blessed as I am, and by doing so, equip them to one day be in a position to bless others.
Q: How has your involvement with the EAC programme contributed to your personal growth?
A: We arranged a team from work to help paint one of the classrooms on Mandela Day 2013, and I’ve also been to a graduation ceremony. I was blessed just being part of those events. It truly is a blessing to see the difference Sparrow makes in the children’s lives. I’ve also participated in the 2013 and 2014 Discovery 702 Walk the Talk events as part of the Sparrow team, so it’s not only good for my soul, but my physical health too!
Q: What are the most critical results you expect our organization to produce?
A: To equip children of all ages (particularly those who would not otherwise have had the opportunity) with the skills they will need to one day be productive members of society.
Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?
A: I would want everyone to be loved and to live with dignity, to have enough to meet their needs and to contribute to society by helping others. That sounds very simple, but I believe there are many people who don’t have that and may never get the chance to get it. And it humbles me, because I am fortunate enough to be very blessed.
Q: What actions do you think would best cause the change you envision?
A: Partnering with Sparrow is one of the ways in which I try to make the world a better place. I may only help a few children, but they will go on to help others. If everyone did something, it adds up.
Q: What would you like to pass on to future generations?
A: I’m reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I would urge everyone to be a blessing to others – when you help others; your own blessings are multiplied. And of course, there are few things as gorgeous as the smile on a child’s face, so if I can help to make a few children smile, it’s enough for me.
You too can be an Educate A Child Champion and make a difference in a child’s life. Contact Precious Mbele on 011 482 1015 or firstname.lastname@example.org.