The amazing women of Masicorp: Carol Hanks
During August, we as South Africans celebrate everyday women and acknowledge the contributions they have each made for their country and families. We will be writing a series of blog posts titled “The amazing women of Masicorp” in honour of the very special women helping us to serve the community of Masiphumelele.
This week we celebrate our Director of Development Carol Hanks. Since the birth of Masicorp 20 years ago, Carol has dedicated herself to finding ways to help the people of Masiphumelele tackle the social obstacles they face. As Carol looked back on her work with Masicorp she fondly said, “Working with Masicorp has been the highlight in my career and has brought me full circle. I started my life in Africa by setting up and running a bush clinic in the wilds of Zambia”.
In 1998 Carol teamed up with founders John and Carol Thompson forming a powerful union which would shape the future of the organization. In Carol, the Thompsons found someone who was willing to go to great lengths to connect with the people of Masiphumelele.
Carol quickly threw herself into overseeing the daily running and operation of the projects that were taking place. Her cheerful nature, respect for the community, as well as her determination and willingness to listen brought a positive energy to those she came across – and a relationship of trust and mutual respect between Carol and the people of Masiphumelele was formed. This allowed Carol to initiate and direct various successful projects which fulfilled the wishes of the Thompsons to make a difference in Masiphumelele.
Carol’s first project in Masi was teaching to the learners at Ukhanyo Primary School, supported by a group of women volunteers. At that time, the school struggled with meeting the educational needs of the learners. Carol and her group of volunteers filled this gap. She went on to oversee many more initiatives at the school, such as a teacher’s aide programme, a sports programme as well as the feeding scheme which provided a snack to every child in Ukhanyo once a day.
During her time spent at Ukhanyo, Carol always hoped that a high school would be built in Masiphumelele. Carol was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the current high school being built in 2009, through her communication with high profile leaders of the City of Cape Town and her determination to find a site for the new school to be built on.
In 2000 Carol helped to set up a youth group called Sosebenza (We Will Work Together) consisting of unemployed and unskilled young people who showed leadership abilities and a wish to help their community uplift themselves. Carol oversaw the building of Sosebenza Youth Center with Masicorp donations under the inspired guidance of John Thompson and a group of Sosebenza volunteers who worked alongside visiting volunteers from other countries.
The Sosebenza youth were groundbreakers – young peer educators, dealing with AIDS/HIV awareness in schools to spread the message of openness and acceptability, and the Youth Centre quickly became a hive of activity. Today Masicorp is no longer involved with the running of the centre, but many of those youth will never forget Carol’s efforts to help them forge a successful future for themselves.
During her time with Masicorp, as one of the very few volunteers, Carol’s dedication in carrying out our founder’s vision saw 30 homes being built in Masiphumelele, with owners receiving their title deeds. She also assisted community member Doreen Zanyiwe build her own crèche, as well as receive the necessary training and support to have the school registered- the first registered creche in Masi!!
This story touches on just a few of the initiatives Carol has been involved with during her time with Masicorp. Today, she continues to dedicate herself to raising much-needed funds for the organisation and sharing our work with the wider community. On any given day, you will find her in the field accompanying visitors eager to see our various projects in action – each one receiving the warm ‘’Carol’’ welcome – a true ambassador for Masicorp!
Over the years, Carol has never lost touch with Masicorp and the community of Masiphumelele. Even during her time away from Cape Town, she always found a way to help make a difference. We wish to acknowledge your role within our organization Carol, you have truly served the community of Masiphumelele and we are in awe of your strength and courage as you find new and innovative ways to help our organization grow and evolve.