Right Hand Trust Experience – A History of the Rafiki Thabo Foundation

The Rafiki Thabo Foundation can trace its development directly to an innovative gap-year agency that was established in 1992 called The Right Hand Trust. This organisation, under the auspices of the Anglican church, sent young adults into host communities in various countries of rural Africa and the Caribbean for a period of eight months. During this time they were to become as immersed as possible into their local context, living, learning and sharing with their hosts. In a majority of cases, this involved being adopted into a community, given local names and establishing deep-rooted friendships with many return visits. Inevitably informal structures began to be established whereby the former gap-year individuals would arrange for certain school fees to be paid or certain families suffering severe financial difficulties to be assisted. Although small in scale, money was finding its way directly to those who needed it the most, often the very ones who had given so much by way of love and friendship to the individuals during the eight month gap-year period.

The Rafiki Thabo Foundation was established in 2006 and is the formalisation of these existing structures – for instance, four of the six trustees are themselves former Right Hand Trust individuals. Rafiki Thabo currently has 6 trustees (all volunteers) who meet twice a year to view applications, review and steer the direction of its work.

The foundation is also looking to the future. By capitalising on the existing contacts there is a real and exciting opportunity to expand beyond the one-off or individualistic approach and to begin to encompass and assist a greater number of people. By harnessing the benefit of local knowledge of community challenges, needs and requirements a far reaching difference can be made, where every penny donated counts.