In 1998, Jacob Lief, a 21-year-old American university student, met school teacher Malizole "Banks"
Gwaxula in a township tavern in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. After
bonding over beers and a shared passion for education, Gwaxula
invited Lief to live with him in the township. Inspired by their
fortuitous meeting-which brought together two men separated by
race, nationality, and age-and by the spirit of ubuntu,
roughly translated as "I am because you are"-the two men embarked
on an unexpectedly profound journey.
Their vision? To provide vulnerable children in the townships with
what every child deserves-everything.
Today, their organization, Ubuntu Education Fund, is upending
conventional wisdom about how to break the cycle of poverty.
Shunning traditional development models, Ubuntu has redefined the
concept of scale, focusing on how deeply it can impact each child's
life rather than how many it can reach. Ubuntu provides everything
a child needs and deserves, from prenatal care for pregnant mothers
to support through university-essentially, from cradle to career.
Their child-centered approach reminds us that one's birthplace
should not determine one's future.
I Am Because You Are sets forth an unflinching portrayal of
the unique rewards and challenges of the nonprofit world while
offering a bold vision for a new model of development.