Johannesburg - Focused on bringing sustainable change to the surrounding community, Sandton-based Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) Rays of Hope has been impacting on the lives of Alexandra residents for almost 30 years.

Rays of Hope started operating with one project in Alexandra in 1991 and has grown to a network of nine community-based projects, focusing on education, orphaned and vulnerable children and work readiness.

The organisation focuses on  individuals and families and aims improve all aspects of their lives, thereby creating a lasting impact on the broader Alex residential community.

Rays of Hope executive director Sihle Mooi explained the partnership formed with the local community.

"We believe in partnering because we believe that the people we work with are just as able as we are, they are just as capable.

"We don't want to be condescending and say we're solving their problems, but we're coming alongside them to help them solve them."

This they do through focusing on three key areas: orphaned and vulnerable children, education and work readiness. 

Within these areas, Rays Of Hope run nine different programmes which include supporting child-headed households; running a Saturday school to tutor youngsters as well as equipping unemployed matriculants.

Speaking of the focus on Alexandra, Mooi explained that there was a realisation of the pressing needs the community had. 

"This was started 27 years ago from a church in Sandton. Initially they were doing work in various communities. 

"There was a realisation that some of the biggest needs were in Alex and if we really want to make a difference, we need to have a narrow geographical focus... and also to create a bridge between Sandton and Alex."

Mooi added that some of the biggest challenges faced included dealing with crime issues affecting Alexandra as well as building relationships with local community leaders.

Despite this, Mooi stressed that help was always welcomed in any shape and form. 

"Volunteering is a great way of getting involved; all our projects need volunteers. Because there are a variety of projects, there are many areas to help out," he said. 

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