Every charity begins with a dream. But real change begins with action. It starts when ordinary people commit themselves to making a difference with nothing but their passion and dedication.
Brothers4Change was no exception.
The story begins with two brothers and their mission to make helping others easier.
While on holiday in Soweto, South Africa, Samuel and Jonas Smis, two Belgian nationals, were confronted with the uncomfortable reality of poverty. Everywhere they went, children struggled. Where they enjoyed a rich education, these children did not. It seemed as if there was no hope.
Life in Soweto
Soweto is a township on the borders of Johannesburg. Its name has no grand historical meaning, simply being an abbreviation for South Western Townships. The people here are poor. Their homes are known as "matchbox" houses, referring to the cheap four-roomed accommodation provided by the government during apartheid. Families squeeze into these cramped and squalid conditions.
That's not to say the people are without culture.
Music, like Kwaito and Kasi rap, flows out of doors and into the street. Football and tennis are played by teams nearby. And gospel choirs sing passionately about their faith. These are proud South Africans by heritage and language.
But even for all their life, Soweto is a place without opportunity. The apartheid made it that way.
Sparking a change
That's what the two brothers saw, and that's what the two brothers wanted to change.
They knew others did too. The problem was that those who wanted to help others often did not have a lot to spare themselves. That formed their key message: helping others made easy.
Their solution was simple: from the profit of every sale, 10% would be invested in education for children in need. There would be no middle-man, no corporate charity structure. Instead, the money allocated for education would go into a separate bank account.
This was their promise.
Education is the key
Education was chosen based on the inspiring quote of another South African native: Nelson Mandela. Mandela had said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
The brothers agreed. With a team of professionals behind them, they set to work building a store selling everything from bikes to HD TVs. If people could buy whatever they needed from the store, there was more chance of raising more money for education.
Using the money, the company - Brothers4Change - aimed to build schools, build new water facilities, and provide solar powered lamps, so learning doesn't need to stop at sunset.
How Brothers4Change s helping the Congo
The result was rather spectacular. To date, hundreds of children have been helped by Brothers4Change. With thousands more in the future.
Currently, their work is based in the Kivu region of Congo.
In past months, Brothers4Change has delivered 250 solar-powered LED lamps, 4 big water filters, and sport equipment to Idiga village. There, the locals have neither electricity nor running water. Now, with the solar-powered lamps delivered, the children can learn well after sunset - which comes early in this region of Congo. To get to the village, the truck needed to plough through the thick muddy road. But, as Helen Keller once said, "there are no shortcuts to any place worth going."
With 250 students in the village, each student gets their own lamps. But more than that, they get an opportunity for a better life.
This is just the beginning.
Will you join Brothers4Change in their mission to change children's futures in developing countries by making education more accessible?