Peace Corps Blog

This is a blog of my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, working in South Africa. My job title is a capacity builder, which means I help increase the effectiveness of a local NGO that does AIDS/HIV related work.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Powerful People and a Request

For once, I am actually going to manage two posts to my blog within one week. This is just to tell a little story about my day today and to ask a small favor of friends and family at home.

Today, one of my organizations chief sponsors was going to visit. The sponsor is Anglo Platinum, the world’s primary provider of platinum. The company runs one of its many mines just near my town. Back in December, they asked us to prepare for a big visit from some of the people very high up in the company, who wanted to see some of the results of the corporate giving. We all prepared, setting up a nice room to show off some of the creations of the organization and the normal operation of the organization was halted for a whole day. In the end, they never showed up, frustrating me a good deal (it seemed so counter-productive).

Now this visit started out the same way. They said they would be here at nine this morning, so we prepared brochures and setup a nice meeting room with snacks, water and decorations (it amazes me how quickly the volunteers here can transform a room). The caregivers were not going out to visit patients, and instead prepared a song about “Anglo Platinum”, which they were going to sing to welcome our guests. By noon, there was still no sign of them and I had essentially given up on the visit.

But then we got a call saying they would be here in five minutes. Two vans full of people pulled up escorted by three police cars. The visiting group consisted of the chief executives and board members from both Anglo Platinum and Anglo-American plc, coming from all over the world (Washington DC, London, etc). Doing some research later, I found out that Anglo-American is the primary shareholder of Anglo Platinum, and is a large owner of De Beers and a number of other mining companies (essentially, they are a big deal; $38 billion in revenue). They flew in this morning to the local mine by helicopter for the annual board meeting.

The whole visit was rather surreal. They did not spend more than thirty minutes at our organization, ten of which involved Agnes talking to them. The rest was a brief tour of the bakery and some other facilities. Then they got back in their vans, having not touched the drinks or snacks prepared.

But they were all clearly very bright people and had many questions for me. The experience was interesting though for two reasons. One, the group consists of probably the most influential people that I have talked with in a while (ironic that I would meet them in rural South Africa). Second, it just highlights how strange corporate philanthropy is. So much of it is based on the appearances of success and it is often handled so poorly (too much control or too much burden is placed on the organization by the corporation), yet it is one of the main thing that keeps Fanang Diatla open, so clearly it works as well.

Now, I want to ask a favor of people reading this at home. At the end of March, about seventy other volunteers and I will be walking the half marathon in Sabie, Mpumalanga Province (near Kruger Park). This is partly just a good opportunity to see some more of South Africa and meet up with other volunteers, but it is also a fundraiser for an organization started by earlier volunteers. It supports the KLM foundation, which funds a worthy, needy child to attend an excellent secondary school in the area (called Uplands College). This is done with the hopes of potentially educating a future leader.

Part of the deal is to get different people to fund my participation. Although I don’t normally like to ask people to give money to an organization, I figured I should make an exception. If you can, it would be great if you could make a donation. You can do it online, securely through the website. Make sure to put my name in the white box where it asks for the Longtom person you want to sponsor. Or if you would prefer to do it by check, please make it payable to “Kgwale le Mollo (US)” and send it to:

KLM Foundation (US)
c/o Bowen Hsu
461 So. Bonita Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91107

And make sure to include a note that your donation is in my behalf. Thanks for your support. I will post on my blog about how the weekend is!


At January 19, 2008 3:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a get things done kind of kid Nathan! You're not really a kid I know, but it sounds so good!

There will be a check off to KLM tomorrow. You know of course that Pasadena is right next to where your Daddy grew up!
sending much love, Aunt Mary

At January 19, 2008 6:59 PM , Blogger susan said...

dearest nate.......a donation is forthcoming. as i said before, love reading of your adventures and experiences. keep up the good work and know that we all miss you tons! thank you for the christmas note. l love you.
aunt sue


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