The SmilingOne Foundation

Spreading circles of change throughout Cape Town

Karina Andersen, the founder of the SmilingOne Foundation, chatted to us about the work that this non-profit organisation has been doing in local communities. 

What does the SmilingOne Foundation do?
We unlock people’s potential by activating and implementing Circles of Change in South African disadvantaged communities such as prisons, townships and schools. We do this through a personal value-based leadership programme. The seed that was planted in our first community initiative in Brandvlei Maximum Prison in January 2008 has grown to seven prisons, 120 inmate graduates, 22 inmate coach students and several hundred inmates active in the process. It has received special recognition and given us access to all 42 prisons in the Western Cape. The work we are doing is broadcasted twice a week on Basic Radio which reaches 2,000 inmates. It has also taken us beyond the prison walls and since the beginning of 2010 we have assisted reintegration, youth and community development with up to 100 youth and young adults in our programmes. 

What are the Circles of Change?
We have, through the past three years in our Community Development Initiative, come up with an approach that we call Circles of Change. It is an idea that we have developed by working intensively in change processes with individuals and their communities. Each Circle of Change consists of three key change elements where the responsible individual is an essential puzzle piece. This includes involvement in a personal leadership development programme, an entrepreneurial skills development programme and in general leading a life in gratitude and service.

Can you share an example of how SmilingOne has made a difference in someone's life?
We have so many success stories, but this one made my day yesterday. One of our past participants, a former inmate of Goodwood Medium Prison, called me. He had attended our classes inside prison for just over a year and was released in September 2010. Yesterday he called to express his gratitude. He has managed to stay away from drugs (he was a heroin addict for years) and to turn his back on crime. He is doing great, he has a job and he told me that it was his journey with us that has equipped him to choose a different life. He now wants to get involved in our Youth Initiative in Nyanga Township – inspiring youth to say no to drugs and no to crime!

How can people help?
Today we have until the 30th July to raise a minimum of R150,000. It is really urgent as I have paid most of the SmilingOne projects out of my own pocket (bridged funding) and now my coffers are empty. So many people rely on our programmes and we need urgent donations to keep us going for the next couple of months until one of our big long-term funding proposals comes through. Any amount, small or big, makes a huge difference for us. We ask people to make us part of their 67 minutes for Mandela.

Give Karina a call on +27 (0)83 235 6555 to find out how you can help the SmilingOne Foundation to continue with their good work.

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