By: Ayabonga Ngoma
Last week was the first charity auction and gala dinner for the ‘Change for Children’ campaign run by the super amazing South African team of Save the Children. The last event I covered for SCSA was their official media launch over a year ago at Turbine Hall and this night was no exception to the level of effort, class and occasion we’ve come to expect from the organisers.
Upon arrival I was welcomed by the red carpeted entrance of The Venue in Melrose where I encountered SCSAs CEO, Gugu Ndebele who was being interviewed by the RGB cameras where she, true to her spirit, jokingly yelled out to me about my needing to blog about the evening. Once inside guests mingled upstairs by the bar enjoying their welcome drinks and the entertainment from saxophonist Nqubeko.
The event officially kicked off when everyone was seated on the beautifully laid out tables and the ever glamorous Edith Venter stepped onto stage as the evenings MC. Edith graciously welcomed everyone and introduced the first speakers, Save the Children SA Ambassadors, actress Terry Pheto and singer Bo. Terry shared her story of how she became to be one of the ambassadors and why it was so important for her to put her face and name behind such an inspiring brand and cause. Bo followed with the same sentiment and added with his own journey from humble beginnings.
In between the speeches the crowd was kept entertained by the bold and sassy all-female dancing troupe called Dora’s Dancers who slayed to a Beyoncé song mashup and a powerful performance by Joyous Celebration’s Given Mabena. Guests were spoiled for choice with a delicious 3-course meal and great wine selection, and two lucky guests walked away with raffle prizes worth over R10 000 from Lungstar Creations and a stunning dress from Plus-Fab.
One of the highlights of the night was getting to hear from one of SCSA’s many beneficiaries, a bright, charismatic and unapologetically confident young boy who we simply called Moses. He gave a speech of what he’s been up to since being under the organisations wing and how his life has changed for the better, all the while subtly hinting that the speech would be a whole lot better read off a tablet. Which by the end of the night he got a tablet donated to him along with a camera and photoshoot sponsored by photog Trevor Stuurman. A scholarship to a chosen SCSA beneficiary was also announced by a generous IT businessman for any child who had an interest in the field.
CEO Gugu followed with her own emotional and moving address of the tireless work she and her team do every day in saving the lives of children around the country in a holistic way. During her time on stage she brought up founder of Please Products Ranjay Israni, sponsor and supporter of SCSA who played a big hand in the event.
After all the speeches and dinner the fun really started with the main purpose of the night, the auction to raise funds for the organisation. The auctioneer really got things going with his task which he did amazingly well because he managed to raise R260, 000 in total that night. Among the auctioned items were; gorgeous dresses donated by Terry Pheto which she’d worn on the set of Bold and the Beautiful and movie premieres, one of a kind hand-made purses, artwork pieces including a special one from contemporary artist Senzo Nhlapo who effortlessly painted in front of everyone during the course of the evening. A few bidding battles were had, especially over sporting memorabilia (I didn’t get the fuss) and one between one of SCSA’s own and the man behind the event Rodney Knotts and feisty Terry Pheto.
A wonderful evening was had by all and more importantly funds were raised in the name of changing for children. The amazing thing about the whole thing was that not a cent was spent by the organisation, everything from the entertainment to the spectacular venue was graciously donated by fans, friends and supporters of Save the Children. The talented Bo played us out with a high energy performance that got me and everyone else off their chairs and onto the dancefloor.
Support, donate and pledge your time by going to Save The Children SA for more info. Also check out #Change4Children in social media for the live tweets and posts from the night.
Photos by: Blane Venter
Ayabonga is just a small town boy, livin’ in Johustleburg. Governed by music. An extroverted introvert. Curious mind, but never nosy. Engineer who is a wannabe creative. Find him on Twitter: @Ayab0nga