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Philip Jonker
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The Edge of Life Fund Q&A

What is the Edge of Life Fund?

The Edge of Life Fund is a funding trust created to support registered Public Benefit Organisations involving social workers and faith groups successful in restoring self worth in individuals and building family structures.

Why the name Edge of Life?

Edge of Life refers to the fact that those who are reached out towards are either physically, emotionally or spiritually on the edge of their lives due to choices or circumstances, often also driven to the edge of society due to insecurity and rejection. Edge of Life also refers to the leading role this trust plays in social responsibility. It reminds us of cutting edge thinking, being on the forefront, a new approach to find answers.

What does the Edge of Life Fund do?

Edge of Life takes the responsibility of ensuring that funds are directed towards the objectives of the trust and not wasted on bureaucracy, administration or mismanagement. Edge of Life does not run its own projects, but evaluate and stay involved with already successful projects that have track records of making a difference.

What are the objectives of the Edge of Life Fund?

Our first priority is not to direct funds in order to create something visible, like building a school for instance. Edge of Life focuses on the restoration of self worth of the individual. We believe every person is important, is unique and special and has a dream to live. We support projects encouraging individuals to become who they can be, to look past their circumstances and to grow beyond expectations.

Why focus on self worth?

Thoughts become deeds. Deeds become habits. Habits become character. We would like to create a legacy, a generation with character, secure in who they are and content. That is why we begin with thoughts, the way they think about themselves, their identity. When a person values himself, he also values others and has the ability to appreciate life.

People in business have a social responsibility. This can be interpreted in many ways. How do you see this?
Our social responsibility is about minding the gap. There is a gap to be bridged to those in need. We can quote statistics of crime, like gangsterism, rape, theft, murder. We can quote statistics of abuse and addiction to alcohol, drugs , etc. We can quote statistics of poverty and joblessness, the need for the basics. Some think there is no solution, but we beg to differ. We have seen change and would like to direct all efforts towards this solution.
We believe there is one taproot where all of the above originate and that is a lack of self worth. Why someone thinks little of himself or herself may have many causes, like absent parents, abusive homes, sexual trauma as child, comparison with siblings, teen age confusion, wrong thought patterns, failure, destructive words of an employee, a lack of affirmation, etc. Some say they were treated like dogs when they grew up. Some were shouted at, others were simply ignored. When you repeatedly hear you are nothing you tend to believe it after a while.
When you believe you won’t succeed the chances are good that you will drop out of school at a young age. Without education life becomes a survival challenge with much free time and no income. We all know that when a child grows up without approval they look for it in other places. Gangs are perfect conditions for a boy to try and prove himself and girls offer their bodies to feel accepted. When you feel worthless no one else has any value, so crime and time in jail often follows. And guilt. And even less dignity. The downward spiral just picks up speed with substance abuse and before you know it you have to fight to survive, steal to eat, intimidate to maintain yourself. Can this downward spiral be stopped and turned around? Can we rewind and start over again? To become a criminal, a drunkard, a prostitute is no one’s childhood dream.
We believe everyone is born for a reason, that everyone is unique and has a special purpose to find. Circumstances may have knocked a person off course somewhere along the line, but this doesn’t nullify his or her original purpose. It doesn’t matter how hopeless one has become,  there is an opportunity to be reborn, to start over again with one’s true identity.
As Edge of Life Fund is based in South Africa and our social responsibility is directed towards marginalized individuals mostly in rural or forgotten areas. Our priorities are restoring identity, self esteem and rebuilding family structures. We support those projects that care for the individual, for we believe everyone has an identity. A value. An ability. A name.  
What does this mean practically?

The majority of the projects we support focus on children as we believe we have the opportunity to build a new generation of leaders with strong family values. But there are also projects reaching out to adults who have lost their way and ended up in sad situations due to wrong choices or circumstances. To them we want to say it is never too late to start again. The projects we fund restore self worth and dignity through music, dance, drama, leadership development, motivation, day care, counseling and education. It is a total approach.

Who contributes to the Edge of Life Fund?
Any business or individual believing in this mission is invited to contribute to the Edge of Life Fund. The River’s Edge brand of Weltevrede Estate contributes 50c for each bottle of wine sold internationally. Other businesses are challenged to take up their social responsibility and similarly to decide on a proportional contribution to the Edge of Life Fund. In such a way we all become agents of change. It is about living a lifestyle of making a difference.
Who are the role models from whom you draw inspiration?
We have great examples in the world of people willing to live sacrificial lives for others, like Mother Theresa. Also are we inspired by people who rose above their circumstances, many who left a great legacy in our country, South Africa, like Mr. Nelson Mandela. I include a few quotes that serve as inspiration:

“What the poor need, even more than food and clothing and shelter, is to be wanted. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.” – Mother Theresa

“The poor deserve not just service and dedication, but also the joy that belongs to human life.” – Mother Theresa

“It was an awareness that these dying and derelict men and women, these lepers with stumps in stead of hands, these unwanted children, were not pitiable, repulsive or forlorn, but rather dear and delightful; as it might be, friends of long standing, brothers and sisters.” – Malcolm Muggeridge

“To soothe those battered old heads, to grasp those poor stumps, to take in one’s arms those children consigned to dustbins, because it is his head, as they are his stumps and his children, of whom he said that whosoever received one such child in his name received him.” - Malcolm Muggeridge

“Only in heaven will we see how much we owe the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.” – Mother Theresa

“Though you hide yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognise you, and say: ‘Jesus, my patient, how sweet it is to serve you.’”  – Mother Theresa

“We give our whole hearted free service to the poorest of the poor – to Christ in his distressing disguise.” – Mother Theresa

“They know very well that it’s to Christ the hungry and Christ the naked and Christ the homeless that they are doing it. And this conviction and this love is what makes the giving a joy.” – Mother Theresa

“I do not agree with the big way of doing things. To us what matters is an individual. To get to love the person we must get in close contact with him.” – Mother Theresa

We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. - Nelson Mandela

For further questions:

Directors: Philip Jonker, Doné Groenewald, Pieter van Tonder
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