Meet our team!

One of our strengths is our professional team who have an inherent passion for non-profit work and for making a tangible difference to South Africa’s youth.

TaylaTayla Blades – Donor Relations Manager

Who are you?

I am an enthusiastic and compassionate individual who adores working with children. I find so much joy being part of the Focus on iThemba team and making a difference in the lives of others. I value kindness, integrity and collaboration.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

My role at Focus on iThemba is to lead the team with our awesome projects and to share the wonderful work we do with donors by building relationships and exploring new fundraising opportunities.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

Being able to invest in children’s lives through education and make the kind of difference which will last a lifetime.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I can wiggle my ears!

LungaLunga Mazeka – Social Worker

Who are you?

I am a strong believer in God, and I believe in working hard to achieve your goals.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

At Focus on iThemba I am a social worker, my role is to make sure that all is in order for our foster children. I do group and individual work with our foster children, in order to support the children in their personal and organisation changes and challenges. Within my role, I also reunite foster children with their biological families and look for suitable foster parents for our foster children as part of our Esther Model. I am an advocate for foster children, the iThemba Academy children, in the home and to our fledglings.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

I get the chance to put my skills and my profession in practice. Focus on iThemba has given me a platform to do what I like the most: to work with children, help them make decisions that concern their lives, and see them grow as unique, special individuals. Focus on iThemba has given me a chance to grow as a person and as a professional, this is too exciting for me!

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I am crazy! I love fun….

KhanyaKhanya Gama – Field Rep

Who are you?

I am Khanya Gama, married with three gorgeous boys, 20,18 & 12. I am a qualified Grade R Teacher. I am a fun person who loves life. I am a person who is loving, caring and who loves to laugh. I am a comedian at heart. I love working with people. I love to live in harmony with everyone around me.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

We work with 8 creches in the valley at present whereby, we walk alongside them by providing training to the teachers. Making sure that every individual who works with the children is clued up with what they need to be doing in terms of child development, and how to stimulate a child to aid the required development to take place. My role also consists of monitoring the implementation of the knowledge gained after training and helping to guide and provide support to teachers where needed.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

The difference, the impact, the role we play in our surrounding areas. Touching little lives one at a time helping to ensure a better future as we enforce the laying of a good, quality foundation. Also seeing the transformation of the teachers after their training is so fulfilling and that’s what makes us do what we do. We look back and we witness changed and empowered women who walk tall with confidence because they have a sense of pride in what they do as well as who they are. The knowledge they obtain, no one will ever take it away from them.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

  • I love animated films – I beg to take my son but it’s mostly for me!
  • I love cats.
  • I cry when watching a touching movie.
  • Love flowers.
  • Last but not least: “Lo…….ve my coffee”

GavinKGavin Kruger – Former COO & Volunteer

Who are you?

I am blessed!  Married to Val, my wife for 49 years and we have 2 married children with 6 grandchildren.  Most of my working years were spent in tertiary education where I had a happy and fulfilling career culminating in being Dean of Engineering at what is now the KZN University of Technology.

After starting work at 18 years of age and especially after many, many years in education, I longed to reach my retirement age of 60 years. That was 11 years ago!  However, I am so glad that I am still working, because I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Focus on iThemba during these later years of my life. Serving God has always been my passion. Combined with this is my work to help previously disadvantaged children in their quest for a good education and their ability to become the leaders of the future.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

During my time at Focus on iThemba, I have been involved with donor liaison, leading and helping our foster children into adulthood and also with Early Childhood and Foundation Phase Education for disadvantaged children.

Presently I am a Director of the Waterfall Schools which occupies buildings on the campus of Focus on iThemba while I also help at Focus on iThemba with liaising with our donors and as an educational consultant.  It is a joy for me to see the new younger generation take over the responsibilities that I once held and to see them leading Focus on iThemba to new and greater heights in the community of the Valley of 1000 Hills.

GavinSGavin Simpkins – Volunteer

Who are you?

I have been married to Sheila for 37 years and we have two “children” Devon, a businessman, and Bronwyn, an occupational therapist. I was in the business world for 30 years and now spend about half my time as a volunteer. I love sport and holidays in the bush.

Tell us a bit more about your role?

I get to work with Danie and the board on all of Focus on iThemba’s projects and love working with everyone to help evolve even more impactful and sustainable projects. My favourite project is Early Childhood Development, especially in rural areas.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

It  is such a pleasure and privilege to be part of a passionate and committed team working to have a positive impact in so many peoples’ lives.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I eat raw onion with my dinner every day.

MariskaMariska Paul – Business Manager

Who are you?

I am a caring and loving person who does things with all my heart and soul, I never give up coz I believe that life is beautiful and there is always hope. I enjoy baking and making beautiful creations with food. I love my family, my husband, my twin sister and my two fur kids!

Tell us a bit more about your role?

Within my role I manage the financial reports for Focus on iThemba, working closely with our bookkeeper, Lene. I monitor and manage the accounts, which are then presented to the board.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

We touch so many people’s lives from our creches up to Varsity level. We are making a difference every day and that is what brings us hope – the little things accumulate into greater accomplishments.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I’m a twin!

LeneLene Venter – Bookkeeper

Who are you?

I do not like to be in the spot light and enjoy working behind the scenes.  I strive to be effective in everything I do, to deliver results and not to let my teammates down.  Optimism and enthusiasm are very important to me, as well as to keep the team’s spirit high during busy times.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

My role at Focus on iThemba is to assist on the finance side, to ensure that financial deadlines are met and to help and assist where ever help is needed, if it is in my ability to help.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

I love what I am doing at Focus on iThemba because there is so much more than just finance!  Working with a team to make a difference in peoples’ lives is so rewarding.  Although my main function is on the finance side I am exposed to a wide range of other responsibilities including the BEE Audit where I have the wonderful privilege to be involved in the community. Although all jobs have their own challenges, I know I can come to work with a good spirit because I am working with a wonderful team who loves and supports me. There is always change, which creates space to grow.  I am very excited about our work in the community, our training programmes and our partners.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

A random fact about myself is that I love being creative.  I love Jewellery design and fashion. I studied fashion design at European Fashion Trade School and did my design course through “The Open Window Institute of Art and Digital Sciences”.

AmandaAmanda Drummond – Executive Assistant to Founder/CEO

Who are you?

In three sentences, tell us a bit about yourself? I am a dedicated wife and mom of two who loves spending time with family. I am a practical, analytical and hardworking individual. I am loyal and strongly believe in integrity.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

I provide administrative and secretarial support, to the CEO. Assist in making the CEO’s desk run smoothly.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

I love experiencing the passion and commitment each and every person who works at Focus on iThemba. Seeing heart in all that is done.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I can pick up things with my toes!

CamillaCamilla Blomfield – Marketing Consultant

Who are you?

I am a wife, mom, sister, daughter, girl boss and photographer. Naturally creative my eyes and heart seek the beauty in life. My training and work experience lies in advertising, communications, marketing and photography.

Tell us a bit more about your role?

My role is to highlight and place a warm spotlight on the amazing work that Focus on iThemba does.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

That kindness is a superpower and that small acts of kindness make an incredible difference. I am excited that there are so many people in our community and our overseas partners who are everyday heroes of hope.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I can do cartwheels!

RikkiRikki Thoresson – Marketing Consultant

Who are you?

I am a passionate, sensitive creative with a love for people and nature. I am a knowledge seeker; I enjoy learning every day and meeting new people to find out what makes them tick and to observe their idiosyncrasies. I love a working environment that allows me to make a difference in the lives of others, whilst using my passion for marketing, design and digital.

Tell us a bit more about your role?

My role is to assist the team in promoting Focus on iThemba’s amazing work, through marketing, design, social media, and photography.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

The pure kindness that is felt when encountering the team at Focus on iThemba, there is great passion and joy for helping others within the Valley of 1000 Hills, as well as within the team. I’ve always valued the quality education I had access to from a young age and it’s incredibly rewarding to be part of a team that is on a mission to bring the same quality education to all children.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!

I’m a classically trained singer.