'I Am Because You Are' launched in South Africa

JULY 23, 2015

Ubuntu Education Fund Founder and CEO, Jacob Lief, on Wednesday attended the South African launch event of his book, I Am Because You Are at the Courtyard Hotel in Port Elizabeth.

Lief’s book chronicles the story of the community that built the Ubuntu Centre in Zwide Township and gained the attention of the world. I Am Because You Are, with a forward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, offers an unflinching portrayal of the rewards and challenges of the nonprofit world while setting forth a bold vision for a new model of development.

In 1998, Jacob Lief, a 21-year-old American university student, met school teacher Malizole “Banks” Gwaxula in a township tavern in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. After bonding over beers and a shared passion for education, Gwaxula invited Lief to live with him in the township.

Inspired by their fortuitous meeting - which brought together two men separated by race, nationality, and age - and by the spirit of ubuntu, roughly translated as “I am because you are,” the two men embarked on an unexpectedly profound journey.

Today, their organization, Ubuntu Education Fund, is upending the conventional wisdom about how to break the cycle of poverty. Shunning traditional development models, Ubuntu redefined the concept of scale, focusing on how deeply it can impact each child’s life rather than how many it can reach.

From pregnant mothers to students heading to university, Ubuntu provides everything each child needs and deserves, from cradle to career. Their child-centered approach reminds us that one’s birthplace should not determine one’s future.

Notable reviews:

"I Am Because You Are is more than the story of two unlikely friends with a shared passion for helping children get an education. It’s a celebration of hope, resilience, and perseverance, and in Jacob’s telling we see that when we make a difference in the lives of others, we transform ourselves in the process.” - Arianna Huffington, chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group and author of Thrive.

“Nothing makes me prouder than to see South Africa give birth to organizations like Ubuntu Education Fund.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

I Am Because You Are is available online at Exclusive Books, in select bookstores throughout South Africa, and sold internationally. Visit www.iambcyouare.com for more information.

Main Image: The Christian Science Monitor.