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Expressing Love for Others on Valentine’s Day

Lithakazi is a model for her younger siblings. She will be the first in her family to attend university. Photo credit: Tim Hans

Lithakazi is a model for her younger siblings. She will be the first in her family to attend university. Photo credit: Tim Hans

In Bantu, a language spoken in southern Africa, the word “ubuntu” means humanness or human kindness. It also represents a philosophy that implies human connectedness, which was articulated by Archbishop Desmund Tutu when he said, “It [ubuntu] speaks to the very essence of being human. My humanity is caught up, inextricably bound up, in yours.”

As we look forward to Valentine’s Day, we focus on ubuntu, which captures the expression of love for others.

Ubuntu Education Fund, an Aid for Africa member, embodies ubuntu, not only in name, but in action. It embraces orphaned and vulnerable children in the shanties of South Africa’s Port Elizabeth to help them succeed in life as toddlers, adolescents and then as young adults navigating life through higher education and employment. How do they do this? Ubuntu Education Fund ensures that students have household stability and educational and medical support from cradle to career.

Ubuntu’s founder and CEO Jacob Lief asks a simple question, “Should your birthplace determine your future?” The answer, he says, is “no.” During the last fifteen years, Ubuntu Education Fund has provided to more than 2,000 children and their families health care, long-term education support, and household counseling.

One example of Ubuntu’s successful approach is seventeen-year-old Lithakazi, who will become the first in her family to attend university. Today, she is in her last year of high school, where she works hard to secure her future. She also helps her hardworking mother provide and care for her family. Lithakazi’s photo is featured in Ubuntu’s Children: The Spirit of South Africa, an exhibit by photographer Tim Hans currently on display through February 2015 in New York’s Chelsea Market. Through his photos, Hans captures the hope and dreams of children living in the townships of Port Elizabeth and the essence of Ubuntu’s mission.

On Valentine’s Day, let’s remember ubuntu.

Want to do more?

Make a donation to Aid for Africa for Valentine’s Day and we’ll send your loved one an e-card.