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Driven by his love for children and a desire to end their suffering, former President Mandela established the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) by donating a third of his salary throughout his term in office to the formation of the Fund. The Fund was officially opened in1995 and from 1996 to 1998, the Fund successfully mobilized over R36 million to fund over 780 projects, at an average of R40, 000 per project. Grounded in the legacy of its founder, the Fund initially operated as a grant-making organization promoting a humanitarian response to the plight of South Africa ‘s children and youth. The 1995-1999 period was characterised by ad hoc funding strategies that enabled children and families to meet immediate needs, and one-time support for overhead and salary costs for organisations targeting children’s issues, with no particular programmatic basis for Fund’s engagement with these organisations.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund not only recognizes itself as being part of South Africa’s history. It is also the first civil society organisation to locate the problems facing children and to place their plight of at the door of society. The fault was not with children but society which needed to change how its treats children. This is where the vision of the Fund draws its roots: Changing the way society treats its Children and youth.

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