Monday, June 4, 2012

Roman's Pizza does it again!

For many South Africans there is very little hope of bettering their socio-economic situation.  Unemployment, the ever dwindling government support for NGO’s and the growing need for services have resulted in many just barley surviving. Whilst on the other end, the rich just seems to get richer. Unfortunately, in South Africa, hundreds of thousands of children are also affected and are more at risk of becoming victims of neglect and ultimately violence.

This leaves one burning question? If the problem is so big, will any effort to help really make a difference?  Yes, if millions of South Africans can be motivated to take a stand, face the problem and actively start with community work. And this is exactly what the Romans Pizza Double Up Challenge hopes to do.  Based on the age old principle of passing on good fortune, Roman’s Pizza and the Callie and Monique Strydom Trust is now challenging ordinary South Africans to “double up” using  their skills and their talents in order to help millions of children in need.   The idea was inspired by Roman’s pizza store owners who, during the last two months, donated a percentage of their profit on sales in the  “wipe that smile on your face” charity drive.

During a media conference last night, Roman’s Pizza handed over a cheque for R 1 million to the Callie and Monique Strydom Trust, whose project Matla A Bana – a voice against child abuse, assists nearly 13000 abused children every year.  Aware of  dire situation of many abused and neglected children in our country, the charity decided to use half of this money towards a campaign that will make people aware of the need of children and inspire them to assist these children.

CEO of Strydom Trust and Matla A Bana, Monique Strydom, said the ultimate aim of this project is that long term relationships will be built and that the support will be ongoing, rather than a once off. If this can be achieved it will no longer be a double up, but rather triple or quadruple up. Monique Strydom is better known as the hostage who in 2000 survived a 4 month ordeal  in the hands of an Al Qaeda terrorist group. She stated that she is a perfect example of an ordinary South African who has been called to make a difference.  With a career that includes being a professional actress and media agency owner, she has no knowledge of social work and initially no pressing need to do any social work, but this has not stopped her helping thousands of abused children every year. “In fact, I can actually use my acting skills now when begging for money”, she joked.

When presented with the concept, Roman’s Pizza, fell in love with the idea. “It was exactly what we wanted to do – to wipe a smile on a face and with Double Up, it will not only be the faces of the children who will be helped, but also those who are doing the helping”, said Bonnie De Klerk from Roman’s Pizza.  She added  "Life is not worthwhile without a Smile and why not give to those in distress, when we have everything we need.  Making a difference is not only about handing over a R1 million cheque, but about giving your time and feeling it in your heart. Roman's Pizza really does care and we'll prove it be continuously getting involved and lending a helping hand!"

Double Up does not only call for individuals to “double up”, but the success of the projects will also rely on the participation of many businesses.  Of those there has been no shortage, even before the launch of the project. Community stations across South Africa has agreed to manage the marketing and updates on the projects in their provinces , the largest media group in South Africa has agreed to assist with spreading the message and already phone calls are streaming in from businesses to assist where needed.

The campaign will include a web site on which charities and causes can list their needs and blog sites for the participating community stations where the successes of the projects will be shared. In true “double up” spirit, Roman’s Pizza has also offered R 100 000 in prize money for the three best projects,  to be donated to the charity of these projects.  Now individuals not only will make a difference by helping, but if their project is a chosen, they can win additional money for the charity.

One of the projects already entered is that of a group of four 10-year olds in Cape Town who will, for the rest of the year, host birthday parties and give out birthday gifts at a crèche in an informal settlement. Another is that of hundreds of dancers who will participate in a 12 hour danceathon at Clearwater Mall to raise funds for comfort packs for child rape victims.

“With Double Up, we do not want money”, Monique Strydom said, “we want you!” .  This is truly a win win for all!
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