Athlone NPO lends a helping hand

Jean and Eugene Walker from non-profit organisation Ikamva Ubomi want to help more schools with resource centres, but need businesses to help with this.

The demand for assistance from an Athlone-based organisation to establish resource centres at schools, has grown so much that it has now appealed for more businesses to help them.

Ikamva Ubomi, an Athlone-based NPO, has equipped 23 schools and organisations with resource centres since its inception in 2009 – complete with computers and cabling. This was done with no budget, and some small businesses from Athlone assisted with equipment needed.

Ikamva Ubomi was started by Eugene Walker, after he was inspired by his daughter to establish an initiative like this. In 2011 the organisation was registered as an NPO. For most of the time, however, Mr Walker ran the organisation from the back of his bakkie – armed with only his passion to uplift and empower communities.

Since moving into an office based at an Athlone church’s premises, and getting help with its administration, Mr Walker learnt that the research done by a volunteer revealed that the resource centres are valued at around R200 000 each.

“We’ve accomplished a lot over the eight years, and we did it with no financial assistance. We are at a place now where we have to appeal to businesses to come on board to help us install more computer resource centres. The demand is growing so much. We are also now ‘fundable’ organisation, as all our paperwork is in order. I used to work from the back of my bakkie, and did not give administration much thought. Now we have our own office space, and we are receiving assistance from a volunteer who helps with drawing up our proposals, design and marketing,” Mr Walker said.

His wife, Jean, has been the family breadwinner since Mr Walker started the organisation. She did not fully understand what exactly the organisation was doing, until last year.

“I was not clued up with the work Eugene does. Then I came to see what they do, and I was so inspired that I decided to leave my full-time job and help them with administration,” Ms Walker said.

Asked how the family now copes financially, Mr Walker said: “God has really been faithful to us. We currently have no income, but we believe in what we do.”

He added that he used to run his own network installations company, and that it was his business partners who helped to “carry” the organisation.

“We restore second-hand computers – many of it coming from my former business partner – and we then donate it to the resource centres we set up,” he said.

As a way of encouraging businesses to get on board, Mr Walker said they are now also offering a tour of what Ikamva Ubomi is all about, so that business people would have a better understanding of what they do.

Ikamva Ubomi also provides youth with skills training, in order to help them become employable.

If you can assist, call 079 631 4224 or 079 506 8623 or email or check its Facebook page.