This past summer I had the immense opportunity to work for These Numbers Have Faces as their design/marketing/street fair intern. Working for them changed my career path from just wanting to design to wanting to work for non-profits from here on out. They do amazing work and the best part is that it is sustainable. Youth learning to reduce poverty in their own communities... this is how to teach the next generation. This is how our world will change for the better.
i went with TNHF to south africa in 2008 and documented their interaction with the people they exist to serve. it was awesome to see, and capture and learn the stories behind the "numbers".
These Numbers Have Faces is an exemplary organization that performs its mission with integrity and fierce dedication. As a finance intern, I have had the privilege of working for Executive Director Justin Zoradi, whose inspirational leadership and visionary brilliance are the keystones of the organization. Justin’s commitment is so inspiring that the professional staff of TNHF are willing to pour their heart and soul into the organization for minimum-wage pay, while the intern staff are willing to work for free. In their modest office in Portland, Oregon, the walls are bare except for poignant photos of South African scholarship recipients and a tribute to Nelson Mandela. What the office lacks in frills, it more than makes up for in goodwill, laughter, and cooperative productivity. TNHF is a healthy, lean, ethical organization where every possible dollar is used to further the mission of helping South African youth attain education and empowerment.
It's the holistic approach of These Numbers Have Faces that I love. Yes, getting a scholarship is great, but if a student does not have encouragement, support, accountability, or practical life skills, the money is wasted. TNHF understands that. I am completely on board with the mission of the organization and the staff is just the cherry on top. I work with genuinely caring, supportive individuals. We are driven towards a common goal and believe in working together to accomplish our best work. It is this community effort that allows us to effectively impact South Africa. These Numbers Have Faces is truly the embodiment of the quote by Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." It's a blessing to be a part of that small group.
I first found out about These Numbers Have Faces in 2008. I had come across their website from some mutual friends that were supporters of the organization and decided to look into them and see what they were about. I was pleased with their mission and with their interactions with me, answering any questions I had. I offered my services as a Video Production Professional and we stayed in touch. Earlier this year (2010), I had edited a few videos for them and was informed by Justin (founder) that TNHF was going to start an internship and he wanted me to apply. So I did, and the Board agreed to bring me on the TNHF team as the Video & Media Intern. As of writing this, I've worked for the organization for over 5 months and have grown even more pleased with the organization since getting more involved. One area that has greatly pleased me is the efficiency with which money is distributed. So much of the funds donated goes to South Africa and that really encouraged me that I was working for someone with integrity, an organization that truly cares for the people it's helping. I am also happy that it's not basic charity but that the organization is built upon a model that can be taken anywhere and can be sustainable in the area that adopts that model, eventually without the help of These Numbers Have Faces. To have an exit strategy is not common among many non-profits and for that, I commend TNHF and it's founders, for wishing to bring more than charity to the people of South Africa. They seek to help them build a foundation for their future and for those who will come after the students currently in the program. They hope to one day hear that the organization itself isn't needed anymore, as the program has become a fully South African model that is sustaining itself. The organization is very personal with it's donors (it's how I ended up working for them) and is responsible with their resources and donations.
I first heard about TNHF from a friend of mine while I was describing my struggles to get in touch with a different local nonprofit in the Portland area. She mentioned that she had heard great things about this organization, that it was small, but extremely effective. One glance at their website and I was enthralled. I loved the mantra that called for TNHF to work themselves out of business, by helping to create sustainable change through South African youth in their communities. I immediately emailed the volunteer address and was shocked to receive a personal email from Justin a few hours later, thanking me for my interest. That personal touch is apparent through out the website and in the videos with interviews and speeches given by the scholarship recipients. The humility and dedication of our scholars inspired and motivated me and I am very excited to be a recent member of the TNHF team.
TNHF strives to provide education opportunities in South Africa through unique methodology that I find inspiring. Students are not simply given money to go to school. They are holistically taking care of via financial literacy programs, mentorship, and of course, their collegiate educations. The staff is fully dedicated to this cause.
My experience with These Numbers started from an outside view. I loved how they used people to tell their story. Their financial model really impressed me as well. The idea that a dollar could have such a reach and multiple applications is a rare find in many non-profits today. As a current intern, I love the hearts of the people working there, and it's obvious that the primary focus are the students in South Africa.
TNHF is a grass-roots organization committed to sustainable change in S. Africa through education and community development. It has been inspiring to observe the consistent enthusiasm by young people for those living across the globe. That passion is complemented by hard work on a daily basis to advance the goals. And it's paying off: beginning with funding the college education for one student in 2008, TNHF now has placed 8 students in 2010 with plans to increase the number to 20 in 2011. One specific fundraising goal this year is to enable 10 women to attend college. Small donations fund the project, which seeks to change the world, one face at a time. And it's happening. I'm proud to do my small part for such an impressive, visionary organization.
TNHF is a solid nonprofit that is taking an honest look at one specific issue - lack of access to education for black township youth in South Africa - and doing what it can do create positive change for those affected. They are working to break the most debilitating generational poverty cycle that I believe exists. There is clear energy and momentum surrounding this relatively small and young organization. The amount of positive press is only a testament to the power of a transparent, progressive, and grassroots movement. I began volunteering to put my development and business degrees to work, and once inside the organization it was clear that they have a clear sense of purpose and calling. Having worked for a number of similar organizations, I was very impressed at how well TNHF is run, and how clear it is that the mission of the organization comes before anything else. They have a clear identity and that will take them so far.
I got involved with These Numbers Have Faces about 8 months ago when Justin contacted me about doing some video work. Since then I have been a monthly donor and remain involved in both These Numbers Have Faces and the friendships I have built with their staff. While the vision appears simple, it is the heart and thoughtfulness of These Numbers that keeps me engaged in this organization.
I have so enjoyed getting the founders, employees, board members, and interns at These Numbers Have Faces over the past year. On one occasion I spoke at length with a board member of this organization and was challenged to hear of the relational basis of their work and impressed by the sustainability of their model for providing higher education scholarships and opportunities for young women in South African Townships.
I was first introduced to TNHF by the Executive Director, Justin, in 2006. We met at a coffee shop so he could share his story about meeting the JL Zwane Football Team, Coach Eric and Anda. He wanted to continue his relationship with the team, felt called to do more, and formed a sole proprietorship business in order to do so. Little did he know that soon, after many a meeting in his attic, this little sole proprietorship would be the incredible nonprofit it is today. I believe in TNHF and am honored to be associated with this organization not only because of their responsible community-based development model and understanding that investing in girls is a key solution to addressing poverty from the bottom up, but because of the passionate dedicated leadership behind the scenes. Justin, his wife Trisha, the very few staff members, and the countless volunteers work at TNHF because they believe in the power of education, the dignity of all human beings, and they just love their friends in South Africa.
These Numbers Have Faces is a tremendously committed group of men and women that work everyday to play their small part in improving this world. It would be easy to be discouraged when tackling something like poverty in South Africa, but what they are accomplishing through their community impact model is revolutionary. They have the potential to empower not only the youth of South Africans to lift their communities out of poverty, but also leave a sustainable organization and structure that in the future will not be reliant on These Numbers Have Faces.
My volunteer experience with These Numbers Have Faces (TNHF) has been nothing short of continuing growth. The team at TNHF is unusual. Once the team recognized my talents and skills I was encouraged to come up with creative ideas to help grow my area of skill. I had been so accustomed to working in a controlled environment I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be free and creative. When I’m not volunteering I work in marketing for a company who sells consumer products. Having the knowledge I did in marketing and some contacts in the non-profit world here in Portland proved to them I could help get the job done. We met weekly to talk about ideas and status on projects. Every week I was there was positive and we continued to move forward. The positive feedback on ideas encouraged me to dig deeper for creativity within myself. When a company or non-profit allows their employees or volunteers to be free the sky is truly the limit on where they can go. I know TNHF will continue to inspire those they aid as much as those who volunteer.