For Reach for Dream Foundation, being declared best NGO in South Africa at the recent CSI Legacy Awards meant more this year than might have been the case in any other year. A devastating global pandemic brought new and extreme challenges to NGOs. Reach for a Dream Foundation is an example of the adaptability and resilience shown by South African NGOs in the face of hardship, along with the creativity and ‘can do’ spirit for which South Africans are known.
Previously, physical contact was a necessity for the foundation’s work, which seeks to make the dreams of extremely sick and hospitalised children come true. During Covid, the biggest challenge for RFDF was respectfully working with hospitals, doctors, families and others in sourcing ways to safely keep the dream alive.
For children who are hospitalised, undergoing chemotherapy, blood tests and other medical procedures, the normal joys of childhood are hard to attain. In being able to express a dream and have it come true, a child’s will is sparked. Many find that special visit to a game park, the ocean or some other longed-for destination just enough to keep them fighting for their lives, whether they are afflicted with cancer, renal failure, brain tumours, congenital heart defects or any other medical condition.
The Reach for a Dream Foundation runs a variety of programmes supporting its vision to give hope to children fighting critical illnesses. To engage with brave dreamers and wonderful donors, the foundation hosts several national projects throughout the year. The creativity and resourcefulness of the foundation are truly phenomenal, and have had lasting impactful on the lives of many children.
In adapting to the restrictions of Covid, the foundation has pivoted (for now) from physical dreams to the construction of Dream Rooms at hospitals. To date, they have opened 19 Dream Rooms in hospitals around the country, including Chris Hani Baragwanath, Charlotte Maxeke, Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria and The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. These Dream Rooms have been a hit in children’s wards. Each provides hospitalised children with the kind of stimulation that they would not get lying in bed, which during the height of lockdowns was even more isolating than normal. Although hospitals have started allowing some children out again, many are still confined to wards, spending long hours and sometimes days without their families.
Slipper Day, the Dream Club, Dream Raffle, the #ShareHope campaign during the pandemic, and the tech-forward Virtual Reality Experience are all ways that Reach for a Dream uses to enrich the lives of children undergoing medical procedures. These events are no easy feat to organise, and the foundation requires ongoing support to keep these initiatives alive.
Generous and inspiring sponsors such as Dischem, Pick n Pay, Emperor’s Palace, DHL, Auto X, Wimpy, Ren-Form, Discovery, ABSA, Old Mutual, Woolworths, and many more amazing companies have been involved in making dreams come true by supporting RFDF’S vision.
Tasked with fulfilling five to six dreams a day, 365 days a year, including public holidays, nationwide, the foundation manifests over 2000 dreams a year. There is simply no other organisation like it. In order to accomplish RFAD’s tireless work in bringing hope and fun to children whose childhoods are affected in such traumatic ways, corporate partners must come on board – especially those that will accompany the organisation over a sustained period of time. We easily forget the children confined to hospitals, many undergoing a constant battle to stay alive, yet with long periods of boredom and loneliness between operations. To get involved, please email the CEO Julia Sotirianakos (email address)