One of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa’s ambassadors who has a little more time on his hands after the excitement of last year’s Rugby World Cup is holding onto the ball tightly and playing hard to score for society’s most vulnerable – abandoned and abused children.
MMSA ambassador and World Cup Rugby referee Jaco Peyper, who was born and bred in Bloemfontein where he is now based, is using his skills to support Henrico House, a non-profit organisation borne out of the desperate plight of some children who had nowhere to go.
Run by 68-year-old Arina Jooste, who has been doing this kind of work for longer than a quarter of a century, Henrico House provides shelter and care for abused and neglected children. Currently she looks after 11 children from the age of three and up, with seven in her permanent care.
One of them, a 16-year-old boy, was adopted after Arina’s daughter, who was in the process of adopting him as a 7-month-old baby, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 37. “I took over the adoption and he has been with me ever since.”
The other children – three boys and three girls – are all in permanent foster care, while various other children are frequently dropped off by the police or social workers while the various departments work on finding temporary shelter for them.
Henrico House is situated in Universitas, Bloemfontein, in a building belonging to a local church, but Arina, a state pensioner who only receives a Sassa pension and grants for six of the children, must provide for water, electricity, food and everything else.
“We support Henrico House through my Mitsubishi Motors vehicle sponsorship where I use my Pajero Sport to collect and deliver goods. We have various partners who help us stock basic food supplies, electricity, gas and clothing,” says Jaco, who also helped to grow a vegetable garden so that they could supply their own fresh produce.
“This month we promised the kids that we will take them out for a takeaway of their choice after we finished our latest project of paving and flower bed surrounds in the vegetable garden,” says Jaco. “They get very little opportunity to pick their own meal...”
Henrico House is a registered organisation with the National Department of Social Development and Child Welfare. The department places children who fit the criteria as identified by these departments to give them a place of safety and stability.
Jaco is part of a small group that supports in whatever way they can, including donations ranging from food, clothing, stationary, schoolbooks and helping to pay for extra mural activities and their school bus fees.
“To raise funds or donations, we run a fundraiser with Round Table annually where Henrico House is one of four beneficiaries. I communicate with businessmen and farmers to donate meat, produce and other food and basic needs to help, but no cash donations. We source the products they need and help some of their accounts.”
Recently a local farmer offered to pay all school bus fees for the rest of the year. “But sometimes we chip in personally to help with the basics – they never ask for anything but the bare necessities.”
Jaco, who drives a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport as part of his MMSA sponsorship as Mitsubishi ambassador, says locals can help by making donations towards food, groceries and toiletries or vouchers for local stores in Bloemfontein.
“Mitsubishi Motors has become increasingly involved in rugby all over the world, finding synergies between our vehicles’ attributes, the game of rugby and the broader reach of team sport,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa.
“Jaco brings a wealth of rugby knowledge, great ideas and initiatives and social responsibility and is a great fit to our brand,” adds Campbell.
Peyper, who also supports the Pebbles Project, is part of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa’s current list of rugby partners, including:
- Bafana Nhleko: SA u19 assistant coach, and
- Rasta Rasivhenge: World Rugby referee.