Empowering the abused and marginalised in society

Gloria de Gee, director and founder of the Umgeni Community Empowerment Centre. | KHAYA NGWENYA. Independent Newspapers

Gloria de Gee, director and founder of the Umgeni Community Empowerment Centre. | KHAYA NGWENYA. Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 7, 2024


Durban — Gloria de Gee, 69, from Durban, is the Founder and Director of the Non-Profit Organisation Umgeni Community Empowerment Centre (UCEC) which provides help to abused children, women and men, those affected by human trafficking, gender-based violence, and drug addiction. The centre aims to also give a holistic solution to enable affected individuals to continue their journey successfully in life, after having been assisted by the organisation.

“It is for this reason that, even though we started with a simple feeding scheme 20 years ago, UCEC has since grown considerably in the number of programs that we run. UCEC has a holistic approach to bring a measure of self-belief, a sense of self-worth to less fortunate individuals and communities,” says, De Gee, who is this week’s unsung hero.

The organisation consists of 10 volunteers and holds different awareness and empowerment programmes.

The Salt of the Earth project is a help desk drop-in centre in the city for victims of abuse and the Light of the World offers daily counselling, student internships and skills development programs. The organisation also creates awareness and prevention programs on trafficking, gender-based violence and femicide. They also work with sex workers, offering them rehabilitation. De Gee said they have a crèche in Inanda that caters for 84 children. She said she was inspired 20 years ago to help people.

“I was inspired by my passion to help women in crisis and to be a voice for the voiceless. I saw children going to school with no shoes and no lunch. It touched my heart and inspired me to do whatever I could do to make a difference for them,” she said.

The organisation is funded by local businesses, churches and family members. Some of their sponsorships are in kind.

The challenges UCEC faces include the lack of funding and the need for larger premises, a new safe house and a budget to implement projects and overhead expenses.

De Gee, a mother of five children and the wife of a pastor described herself as a God-fearing woman of the Christian faith.

Her educational history includes Trauma, Marriage and Delayed Grief Counselling from the University of South Africa and a three-year study at a mission. She said that she drew her motivation from the people she has assisted.

“All I need to do is look into the eyes of the people who we give aid to, and when I see the gratitude and their lives change, it is more than enough motivation for me to continue on this journey, no matter the challenges we face,” said De Gee.

Henriette Awiyele, 17, and Boniswa Mngadi, 18, who were adopted by De Gee said she is a loving, caring and prayerful woman.

Sunday Tribune