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Letter to Patrice Motsepe Foundation

18 April 2024


Dear Sir/Madam –

We have long been aware of the wonderful work being done by the Patrice

Motsepe Foundation. We have also been aware that it dovetails – to a

remarkable degree – much of the work we ourselves are doing. For that

reason, we would like to introduce ourselves to you.

The Ubuntu Academy of Coaching Training (U-ACT PBO-930 037 894) is a

registered Non-Profit Section 18a Trust (IT 9717/07) and public benefit

organisation, founded in 2008 in Waverley, Johannesburg, South Africa, by

David Collins. As a SAQA-registered organisation, it is internationally

recognised and is ISO-17024-compliant.

It soon expanded to encompass two global education programmes (both

classroom-based and online): the GLOBAL WELLNESS EDUCATION

NETWORK (GWEN) and THIS IS AFRICA (TIA), whose students are

situated in various parts of the world. We offer several courses, all of which

are based on Recovery Wellness Coaching, a specialised form of interaction

in which a coach asks powerful, provocative questions designed to prompt

the youngster to interrogate themselves, visualise an alternative way of living

to the one in their immediate environment and, above all, develop the

confidence and motivation to begin crafting a productive, sustainable future.

They are also required to commit to a course of practical actions towards

achieving that goal (eg, jobseeking, doing voluntary work in their

community, embarking on a study course, etc) and account for doing so the

coach at their next meeting.

Recovery Wellness Coaching is a technique we have employed extremely

successfully in our work with people suffering from substance abuse,

behavioural addictions and the mental disorders which accompany these

conditions. However, we have found it works equally well as an upliftment

tool, since it is non-prescriptive, non-judgemental, unaligned to any religious

or political ideology (though it respects all individuals’ private convictions in

these areas) and transfers the responsibility for recovery (ie, self-awareness,

empowerment, agency and accountability) entirely to the client/patient.

The Trust was created as a response to the widespread dysfunction and

poverty in South Africa (as well as other countries in the subcontinent),

which have been aggravated by crime, corruption, unemployment and social

breakdown. These, in turn, have been aggravated by political turmoil and

grave economic problems caused by service delivery failures, particularly

continual power and water outages. The despondency emanating from this in

under-resourced areas has resulted in an enormous problem of substance

abuse and addictive behaviour disorders, which we have always regarded as a

systemic problem affecting not just afflicted individuals, but their families,

employers and communities. The misery and chaos of substance misuse are

contagious, but it is our belief (according to our own very well-documented

and lived experience) that recovery and well-being are equally contagious.

For that reason, U-ACT – which is now also based in the UK, and partners

with numerous other organisations around Europe, North America and Asia

which share its objectives and collaborate in many of its projects – has

embarked on a nationwide initiative in South Africa to uplift youngsters, in

particular, in some of the most neglected and overlooked areas of the country.

These are townships where water, electricity, jobs, schools, usable roads and

recreational facilities have been so long absent that the communities

inhabiting them have sunk into abject defeatism. Their children have no way

of visualising, let alone activating, a way to rise above this and forge a

meaningful future. Many of them live in single-parent families, or are

themselves forced to raise siblings, on nothing but minimal state grants.

We believe that sport is a superb vehicle to restore in these children (whose

ages range from about 12 to 18) a sense of morale, self-worth, purpose and

joy. It is also a wonderful way of teaching them to work in teams, learn

responsibility and find a healthy, meaningful pursuit, off the streets. For that

reason, U-ACT has partnered with Cricket South Africa (CSA) in a project

called “Thanks a Million”. It is aimed at “coaching the coaches” who are

responsible for identifying talent among youngsters and teaching them

rudimentary cricketing skills. We teach the coaches Recovery Wellness

Coaching in three-day, classroom-based workshops (after which their

proficiency in it is reinforced through continual online supervision and

supportive conversation groups).

The coaches are taught Recovery Wellness Coaching in three-day,

classroom-based workshops, where they learn the basic principles of these

powerful conversations, how to initiate them, how to control them and how to

direct them. Once a coach has mastered the skill, achieved the required level

in applying it and been certified as a Recovery Wellness Coach, they are able

not only to work with youngsters on the cricket pitch, but to coach

individuals in their communities, or work in hospitals or institutions. In this

way, it is also a form of job creation and economic upliftment.

In our work with CSA, we have also incorporated the Pauline Podbrey

Foundation, in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, which uses passion for football as a

common denominator among the youngsters who come to its clubhouse

several afternoons a week. There they can sit and do homework under

supervision using computers, receive a hot meal and play soccer in one of

several teams (both boys and girls), either near the clubhouse or in an away

match, when the foundation has the resources to hire a kombi and buy kit.

The manager and some of the older children have now also begun learning

Recovery Wellness Coaching, along with the Cricket SA students, and their

feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

We have found that in most cases, experiencing this sort of interaction with

coaches is the first time these youngsters have ever been asked to explore

themselves, their assumptions and their ambitions. It is also the first time they

have ever been afforded respect and dignity as young individuals, and

certainly the first time they have ever had a safe space in which to express

their fears, dreams and anger. They finally acquire a voice, and the right to be

heard; skills, and the right to develop and exercise them; choices, and the

right to make them. Their parents and caregivers have noticed significant

improvements in these youngsters and, as a result, have found new resolve in

encouraging them and supporting their ambitions, both on and off the sports


This, we believe, is in accord with the Patrice Foundation’s principle of

uplifting and empowering youngsters through the joy and discipline of sport,

and all the invaluable life lesson which come with it.

The response to this project – which has already been underway in at least

three provinces in South Africa, and intends to eventually enter all of them –

has been rapturous. The coaches, as well as the youngsters, have reported

dramatic changes of morale. They know, as do most South Africans, that

recovery for the country will not be achieved with the help of government. It

will be left to citizens and communities to do the work of rebuilding a

thriving society in which the needs and rights of the most vulnerable are

guaranteed and accessed. Likewise, the rebuilding of the economy will be

done by the people, especially young entrepreneurs, who need the resolve and

confidence to do so.

We, at U-ACT, are also active in promoting similar coaching and upliftment

work with youngsters in netball and athletics.

We have seen evidence that our work has helped to save the lives of

disaffected, demoralised (but enormously talented) youngsters who would

otherwise be succumbing to the escape of substance misuse, joining gangs,

committing crime and abandoning any thought of breaking the cycle of

despair in which they live. We are also duplicating this work in other

countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Botswana, Uganda

and the Netherlands.

Our teams of facilitators and instructors offer these programmes free of

charge. It is our aim to make recovery and wellness available, without cost, to

all those who need it, because we believe in it as a solution to much of the

malaise afflicting the world in which we live. However, the costs of

transporting our facilitators, instructors and coaches to the cities and venues

where they will be working (often from considerable distances, including

from other countries), accommodating and feeding them while they are there,

are borne by U-ACT and present a constant problem. We have operated this

dynamic project on a proverbial shoe-string and we intend continuing it, but

we would greatly appreciate any assistance we can find.

As an organisation fervently upholding the same principles as your own

esteemed foundation, we wanted to inform you of who we are, the work we are

doing and why we are doing it. We are proud of the difference we have made

to the lives of young people and their communities.

Our key team members piloting this initiative are David Collins (SA/UK),

Siphiwe Ngwenya (SA), Elias Matiwame (SA)  Fatima Farred (SA), Mureeda Jadwat (SA), Dr Jacob Mabasa (SA), Gwen Podbrey (SA), Ocean Mokobane

(SA), Tia Boulton (UK),  Massimo dal Corso (Italy), Roselle Gowen (Aus),

Paula Perkusic (the Netherlands), Adriaan van Buuren (Canada) and

Beverley Anne Randall (SA). They manage, and/or join, the team of coaches

who deliver the trainings.

We hope that this letter might spark some interest, or offer of support of any

kind, from the Patrice Foundation. We would also be greatly appreciative of

the chance to network or partner with your organisation in this work, to our

mutual benefit. We know that Recovery Wellness Coaching is a life-saving,

unique intervention which converges beautifully with the lessons taught on

the football field and cricket pitch.

We thank you very much for your time and respectfully hope to hear your


David Collins 


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