Posts in Social Investment
The spirit of Ubuntu shines bright at the 2019 Themba Gala
Daytona Showroom, Melrose Arch for Themba 2019

Daytona Showroom, Melrose Arch for Themba 2019

Fundraiser hosted by Make A Difference Leadership Foundation (MAD Leadership Foundation) in partnership with Rialheim raises R1,9 million to support the future leaders of South Africa.

On Thursday, 26 September, the Daytona Showroom in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, was transformed into a prestigious gala venue playing host to the 2nd annual Themba Gala presented by MAD Leadership Foundation in partnership with Rialheim. The theme for this year’s event was the African philosophy of Ubuntu  - “I am because we are”. A fitting proverb for the fundraiser in support of MAD Leadership Foundation, who provides educational access to deserving young South Africans with leadership potential (but who face economic and other barriers) through an individualised and personal scholarship programme.

The Ndlovu Youth Choir

The Ndlovu Youth Choir

An event celebrating hope and humanity

This year’s Themba Gala saw a generous contribution by corporates, individuals, sponsors, educational institutions, artists and suppliers who worked tirelessly to create a memorable experience for the esteemed guests attending the event. While hope remains an essential ingredient in the future of South Africa’s youth, MAD Leadership Foundation provides a platform of hope where the barriers between potential and success are removed for young South Africans determined to change not only their own circumstances, but also their communities and, ultimately, our country.

The spirit of Ubuntu was tangible at Daytona Showroom where you could feel the energy in the room. Guests were emotional when they heard the story of Mpumi, a scholar on the MAD Leadership program, who, against all odds, has prevailed to further her education and spark hope for others in her situation. The Ndlovu Youth Choir, who surprised guests with their performance, echoed the message of hope and unity as their song and dance pulsated throughout the venue. The auction buyers were abuzz, snapping up the beautiful artworks that they had been eyeing throughout the evening.

An expression of Ubuntu in the décor

Rialheim adorned the venue with décor and styling, celebrating the richness and diversity of the African continent. From the Evolution Man lamp greeting guests at the door and celebrating where we have come from as well as looking to the future with optimism, to the stage backdrop adorned with African Hearts and the tables lavishly decorated with key pieces such as the Mastaba vase symbolising all the dreams and talent awaiting to be born and how we as a collective can assist in making it happen.

“As the Ndlovu Youth Choir took to the stage with the Africa Hearts behind them bringing  their incredible energy and message of hope through adversity, I felt excited for the future of our country and proud to call myself South African,” says Creative Director of Rialheim, Rial Visagie.


The event generated a record-breaking R1.9 million for MAD Leadership Foundation -  a generous contribution to the organisation’s vision of supporting #1000Leaders. The funds raised from Themba 2019 will contribute towards the education and development of young leaders on the programme. However, there is still work to be done to get to the goal of 1000 leaders, but Themba 2019 has shown that this is a cause South Africans believe in and the hope that this dream will become a reality prevails.

Rialheim Themba Gala 2019-36.jpg

United, we can make a difference

“Themba 2019 showed us what Archbishop Desmond explained so eloquently, that “a person is a person through other persons, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours.” And we know why “#ImStaying”, because there is so much beautiful humanity and compassion in South Africa. If hope was a fragrance, I would bottle the laughter and inspiration and all-around beauty that is Themba and share it with the whole world,” says Helette Pieterse, CEO of MAD Leadership Foundation.

To join the movement and invest in the future leaders of our country, visit or donate below. Together we can create real change and turn hopes and dreams into reality.

* Donation in ZAR

Supporting Sponsors & Contributors

Andrew Gorman Photography, Angus Taylor, Anton Smit Banele, Khoza, Brand Evolution, City Lodge Hotel Group, Craft Liquor Merchants, Daytona Showroom, Falko One, Flower Art Company, Francois Pienaar, Gallophill, Gallery Greatjoy, Ndlovu, Guy du Toit, Haidee Nel, Hank Liebenberg, Hannelie Coetzee, Hugo de Villiers, Janko de Beer, Johnny’s Liquor Hypermarket Pty (Ltd), Makiwa Mutomba, Manuela Holzer, Melrose Gallery, Meridian Collective, MiaMish, Michael Carter Productions, Mpumelelo Pro Thusi, Nanette Ranger, Norman O’Flynn, Olivier, Owen Claassen, Phulani Liebenberg, Rialheim, Skye Meaker, Sound Decision, Steven Raphaely


Women making a difference - an interview with Helen Day

by Josephine Cilliers

Helen Day with one of her scholars on the Scholar Support Unit at MAD Leadership Foundation

Helen Day with one of her scholars on the Scholar Support Unit at MAD Leadership Foundation

"We need to create the pathways to give hope to our youth so that they can have the opportunity, through education and hard work, to escape the trap of poverty." - Chris Hani


These are the powerful words that inspire a woman with a passion for education and an undeniable drive to make a difference. Helen Day started her journey to the Make A Difference Leadership Foundation (MAD Leadership Foundation) office years before she first stepped into her position as a coordinator in the Scholar Support Unit (SSU). 

The difference at MAD Leadership Foundation


Since the inception of MAD Leadership Foundation in 2003, Founder and Chairman, Francois Pienaar has had an inspiring vision to provide educational access to deserving scholars with leadership potential (but who face economic and other barriers) through an individualised and personal approach. Therefore, MAD Leadership Foundation focuses on the whole individual, ensuring that the scholarship recipients not only succeed academically but manifest personal success and positive social engagement traits.


Helen started working at MAD Leadership Foundation in 2017 in the SSU, and is currently in the senior coordinator responsible for overseeing scholar support implementation and scholarship partner relationships. MAD Leadership Foundation aligned with Helen's passion for the power of education. "I believe that education is one of the ways we can achieve equity and promote Social Justice in South Africa. Through education, we can inspire agency and change how people think about themselves as well as the world that surrounds them. Education can cultivate the civic skills and virtues of citizens for Democratic South Africa." 

What is the Scholar Support Unit?


The Scholar Support Unit maintains the relationship between the scholars on the MAD Leadership Foundation programme and the organisation itself. They ensure that all the necessary interventions take place to make sure that each individual on the MAD Leadership Foundation Programme reaches their full potential. The multi-disciplinary department includes a group of professionals ranging from qualified teachers, registered psychometrists, registered counsellors, a social worker and a Honours in Psychology graduate. The team also contracts in a Clinical Psychologist and an Educational Psychologist on a consultation basis. Together, they can design, implement and monitor personally crafted support to each scholar on the programme. Each member in the department is allocated a group of scholars of which, they take full responsibility. Each scholar has a closely-knit relationship with their coordinator. This allows MAD Leadership Foundation the opportunity to cater specifically to each scholar's needs without applying single broad stroke solution to every scholar on their programme. 

Women making a difference at MAD Leadership Foundation

Women making a difference at MAD Leadership Foundation

 In Helen’s words:

"The reason MAD Leadership Foundation is unique is that we believe that comprehensive financial support is simply the start of what our scholars need. We have developed a support package that directly taps into the different facets of who the young leaders on our programme are. This includes monitoring each scholars academic, emotional, psycho-social, self and leadership development. It is about recognising and seeing the people in their unique context and the spaces that they find themselves in. Every intervention that takes place is customised to the specific individual. We value the voices of our scholars; that's why we listen to them and craft solutions specific to their challenges. It is about adapting and changing our support package to speak to the situation without assumptions," says Helen 


What do the scholars say about the program?


"Helen is a very supportive coordinator. She is easy to talk to, and she is very understanding and open-minded. She displays a very profound understanding of teenagers, and that makes her an easy person to get along with because there are none of the barriers one would typically experience with the average adult.

 She is very efficient; she gets to whatever you ask of her as soon as you do. She checks up on you regularly (you can't go two weeks without her checking up on you.) She encourages growth in other aspects of life besides school. And she is very supportive of what you do as an individual.

 The best thing about her though is that she is loving, she loves you as you are. And you never feel like you are just a job to her."



"Helen has been extremely accommodating of me. She has been supportive academically and otherwise. If ever I need anything, she delivers on time. Frankly, she has suggested outlets to me that even I didn't know I needed that have helped me tremendously."



“Last year was the worst year of my life, and just by talking me through it and supporting me, Helen has changed not only my year but also the way I look at life.”


What keeps Helen inspired?


"We have a lot of special moments with the scholars that carry us through as the SSU. It's the daily things that they choose to include us in. The small moments where they make the decision to include us in their lives. They make such an impact on our lives in so many ways. Whether it's Nipho messaging me to discuss the books she's reading or Bennie inviting us to watch a play that he's written, and it speaks directly to the school visits and Leadership Summits which we have provided, that's what matters the most to us. It might even be the moments when they call us in need of help. Bongi's laptop was stolen, and she called me at 11:00 pm to tell me or a first year student calling the entire SSU to tell them that he's having a panic attack at 3:00 am. It's these small moments that are our absolute pleasure and privilege to be a part of." 


Click below for more information about Rialheim X MAD Leadership Foundation

Rialheim & MAD Leadership Foundation present the 2nd Annual Themba Gala

A dream worth believing in

By Rial Visagie

Pictured from left to right, Daniel Swanepoel (Rialheim CEO), Francois Pienaar (MAD Leadership Foundation Founder and Chairman), Helette Pieterse (MAD Leadership Foundation CEO), Rial Visagie (Rialheim Creative Director).

Pictured from left to right, Daniel Swanepoel (Rialheim CEO), Francois Pienaar (MAD Leadership Foundation Founder and Chairman), Helette Pieterse (MAD Leadership Foundation CEO), Rial Visagie (Rialheim Creative Director).

It is our unique cultural diversity that enables us, as South Africans, to create magic on the global stage.

The inaugural Themba Gala called on the riches of our unique society by auctioning some of South Africa’s finest art, donated by 24 of our country’s top established and emerging artists. Art has always led society by challenging the status quo, holding up a mirror to current and global affairs. The bravery of this industry always demands attention and introspection. The donation of such work by local artists to Make a Difference Leadership Foundation enables South Africa’s future leaders to follow their dreams in realising a better future, not only for themselves but for their society at large. This makes me incredibly proud to call myself a South African and humbled for Rialheim to have been a part of this fantastic event.

Esteemed artists included Mbongeni Buthelezi, Anton Smit & Jaco Sieberhagen.

When Rialheim was challenged to join the movement to support 1000 leaders through MAD Leadership Foundation we immediately jumped onboard, supporting founder & Chairman Francois Pienaar’s dream to expand the organisation’s reach and impact. At present, MAD Leadership Foundation, together with their corporate and event partners, artists and individual supporters currently fund 220 young leaders at schools and universities in all nine provinces helping them achieve academic and leadership excellence. This fills me with so much excitement for tomorrow, for the future of our great country.

“Just imagine a world where every single person can follow and realise their own dreams. What a wonderful world that can be.” 

The venue was adorned with bespoke Rialheim décor including over 1000 ceramic birds and our Humanity Vase & Industrial Candle Stick in Bronze

I am privileged to live my dream every day and believe it is my basic human right to do so. To live your life, by following your dreams is not without challenges. Therefore, organisations like the MAD Leadership Foundation are vital for our society because they believe in and facilitate these dreams, aspirations and hopes. #DreamBelieveFly afforded Rialheim the opportunity to join the movement of creating 1000 future leaders by co-hosting the inaugural Themba Gala that took place last week and we are extremely proud to have played a role in raising R1.8 million during the event enabling young people to follow their dreams, ensuring that their potential becomes possible.

“This event reminded me that our rich and complex diversity combined with a little magic really can make a difference.”

Some of the esteemed guests at Themba with entertainment by Zolani Mahola & Arno Carstens.

See more photos by clicking here.

You can play a part on the journey to supporting #1000Leaders by pledging a donation to MAD Leadership Foundation.