By Alec Hogg
Among my memorable assignments was a visit five years ago to Christel House, Cape Town’s 750-pupil Grade R to Matric school which only enrols children from abject poverty (household income under R1,500pm). Established in 2001 by Christel DeHaan, its efficacy is proven through a 99% Matric pass rate with 93% of alumni studying, working or both.
News reached us yesterday that DeHaan, 77, co-founder of global timeshare giant RCI, passed away on Saturday at her home inIndianapolis. Born during World War Two, she was a toddler when her father was killed in a bombing raid. She made her fortune after emigrating to the US from Germany as a 20 year old.
After banking $850m when selling out of RCI in 1996, DeHaan applied her fortune to helping children from backgrounds similar to hers. Her vision was to reach into the poorest communities and grant 100% scholarships to excellent education for children, covering everything from uniforms to food and professionalhealthcare.
DeHaan’s Endless Success Foundation will ensure eight Christel Houses around the world continue to give their 6,000 students a hand up. Adri Marais, CEO of Christel House SA, says the benefactor was “an absolute force for change.” From the smiling kids I met on my visit to the Cape establishment, that’s quite an understatement.