Third generation philanthropists Cornelis and Marion Cloete have been awarded the 2011 Inyathelo Award for Family Philanthropy.
The Cloete family’s history in South Africa dates back to 1652 when Jacob Cloete accompanied Jan Van Riebeck to the Cape. He was one of the first farmers to be given land as a free colonist in 1657 and the family has enjoyed wealth and privilege ever since. But in December 1990, Con and Marion and their three daughters gave up their upper-class lifestyle to start Botshabelo Village – a haven for poor, sick and displaced adults and children in the rural grasslands about a 100km’s northwest of Johannesburg. Their vision was to alleviate poverty by creating a self-sustaining community that would offer a place of safety and healing for anyone in need of help, including 250 AIDS orphans.
The Cloete family sold their home to start Botshabelo and have liquidated other assets to sustain it. They live and work on the property in the same way as everyone else. Using the traditional African village and its inherent ubuntu values of cooperation and shared responsibility as a model, the 1000-strong community includes an orphanage, school, medical clinic and organic farm.