“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

The first time I met Maria Botha it was around a board room table as various ideas-people were working on a water campaign that would be a major social initiative for South Africa, raising awareness about the value of water and educating people about water pollution and how to preserve water sources by not polluting them with raw sewerage or phosphates from cleaning products. Then, I was amazed at her lively enthusiasm and now – almost two years later – as she sat opposite me (around another board room table) she glowed with the vitality of a woman who is living her dream and finding meaning in every day on this planet. The Jack Russells have also grown and are an integral part of the work she does, charming and amusing grown ups and children alike.

Working with the staff of volunteers from Builder’s Warehouses across the country – Maria has transformed and fixed over 36 schools in 6 months and has a further 70 on her list for 2014. Next stop the rest of Africa.

How it works

Builder’s Warehouse and the Ripples for Good team led by Maria Botha share a common goal and vision; to make a difference in people’s lives, not because they have to but because they want to.

What do they do: Renovate and fix schools chosen as part of the “adopt-a-schools” programme. Staff volunteers nominate schools and a wish list is drawn up. On the day, Maria and the staff head out to the school and, in one day, fix toilets and water leaks, change light bulbs, clean up and build pathways, paint and repair buildings and classrooms. All the while offering sound environmental guidance and helping all participants to become more water-wise.

These vital structural renovations enable the schools to save money on monthly bills and directly improve the learning conditions of the pupils. Students also participate and remain as part of the team that fixed up their school.

It is a national programme and has had unintended benefits like staff feeling happier about their work. But what of the unquantifiable benefit of enabling a little person to feel happy and valued and see their environment transformed from one of degradation to one of possibility?

With nothing but her bag of belongings, two dogs and two wheels Maria visited 36 schools across South Africa in six months. She has truly brought new life to these schools which were in dire need of restoration. During the next year, Maria will be visiting and renovating 70 schools in South Africa and Botswana.

When I look at our children I have a lot of mixed feelings, some angry some desperate but most of all determination to inspire and bring about change. There is an old proverb that says we didn’t inherit this earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children. But see, somewhere we took it and it’s now up to us to ensure that we do good by returning it in a better state that when we took it.

The majority of our kids feel alone and scared and are hungry. Which has again inspired change there is nothing to fear in life and with our children and our mother earth our only real responsibilities in life we go all out sharing loving kindness with the kids. We feed them, we play, we colour, we have fun with them. -Marie Botha

Ripples For Good
Maria Botha
082 926 8055
Ripples For Good PBO 93003267