For South Africa’s leading enterprise asset management and reliability engineering experts, Pragma, Socio Economic Development (SED) has always been at the top of their agenda with their focus being on education.
Says Stéphan Pieterse, Chief People Officer at Pragma and founder of Distance For Difference (D4D): “As a caring corporate citizen, we invest in the wellbeing of people in the areas that we operate in. Our core focus is education because we want to assist people to become self-sufficient. At the heart of the matter, though, is that as a company we’ve been very blessed and want to pay it forward. God has added amazing people to our business over the years. He has filled them with wisdom and serving hearts and provided us with many great opportunities on the business front. In a struggling economy, we’ve managed to maintain and grow our business, securing jobs for more than 500 people. We can’t but pay it forward to others.”
One of the bursary recipients is a young man called, Daniel Frank. Daniel has been in the care of foster mom Sylvia Frank at Sylvia’s House, since he was just two days old. He was originally found abandoned on the street. Sylvia’s House is a foster home and registered NPO in Gordon’s Bay. Pieterse continues: “D4D originally started supporting Sylvia’s House financially more than eight years ago. Pragma, as well as one of its senior leaders, specifically supported Daniel’s education since his grade eight year at Paul Roos Gymnasium in 2013.”
D4D was founded by Stéphan Pieterse in 2005 in response to the images of total devastation and people in need after the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 26 December 2004. It is a registered non-profit organisation (182-816 NPO) which, over the last thirteen years, made a significant contribution towards the wellbeing of children, be it through children’s charities or individual children in need. He explains: “We use sport to generate funds for distribution to various organisations involved in caring for children and to date have raised and distributed close to R6 million. D4D supports two foster homes (Sylvia’s House and Tzadokah) financially. In doing so, we have assisted in providing good education for more than twelve children.”
According to Pieterse, Daniel has just completed his final exam at Paul Roos Gymnasium. “The world is a scary place and stepping into the unfamiliar is daunting. Daniel struggled a bit this year in more than one area of his life. The pressure to perform and not disappoint those that have invested time and resources in him was huge. Many individuals and organisations like the Spirit Foundation and specifically Tessa Smit, have been trying to support him. We’ll all continue to do so!”
At this stage, Daniel is unsure about his future. “Sylvia felt it would be best for him to start working or do an internship, where he can learn to be more responsible and give his future some thought before making any hasty decisions. During the December holidays, he will be working at a lodge in Mozambique. She would also welcome any other opportunities,” Pieterse explains.
Daniel excels at chess and was a Western Province player. He also won several awards. Pieterse adds: “Chess is still very much a part of his life. At one stage he even thought of becoming a chess teacher, but then realised the pay is not all that good. Together with Sylvia, Daniel will give his involvement in chess some thought and then decide about his further involvement in this area.”
Pieterse believes that by supporting Daniel financially, they have given him the opportunity to get an excellent education. “Paul Roos is a great school with high moral values. It helped Daniel to distinguish between right and wrong, good decisions from bad ones. It also gave him the opportunity to lead others as he was a prefect at the residence, and was surrounded by influential teachers and school mates. All of this created a good foundation on which he now needs to build the rest of his life. Not many children born on the street and left for dead, get to have this kind of opportunity. Did our sponsorship make a difference? The answer is an unequivocal YES!”
He concludes: “Daniel is the first scholar that Pragma supported so closely since his grade eight year. We wish him only the best and will support him as much as we can. We’ve learnt a lot and will apply it with more scholars in the future. Pragma has a Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) rating, but we’ve been involved in Socio Economic Development (SED) for so long that it has become part of our DNA.”