Lerato Bulunga voices her feelings about her mission to right wrongs: ‘I feel as if my nature needs me to be socially responsible; I have the urge to do something outside of myself’
Helping out where she can is what Lerato Bulunga (20) has always loved doing, even when she was growing up; now she has started her own foundation to fight the GBV surge the country is facing.
Lerato is a second-year Wits medical student from Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal. She is also the founder of La Basadi, a non–profit organisation that focuses on helping in the fight against GBV and tackling issues such as environmental problems and struggling orphanages.
Influenced by the case of Uyinene Mrwetyana in 2019 and also by a profile article she read on the Wits Vuvuzela website in 2020, Lerato started considering a foundation that would help GBV victims. Uyinene was a 19-year-old UCT student raped and murdered in Claremont, Cape Town, on August 24 2019.
Back in her high school days, Lerato always took part in the school’s outreach programmes, which required them to go to orphanages and do land services. Their roles included giving food, participating in public speaking, giving back to the homeless and helping to keep the environment clean.
The La Basadi organisation was established in August 2020, during the covid-19 lockdown period.
“I could imagine what GBV victims were going through, having to spend the whole of lockdown with their perpetrators,” said Lerato. This pushed her to start looking for funding from organisations and government agencies. Finding funding during the pandemic was one of the challenges she faced: “The lockdown made it hard for us to receive donations,’’ she said. ‘’The government and private organisations were focused on funding covid-19 matters only.”
La Basadi has done two projects in Richards Bay and other communities surrounding the city. Centres such as the House of Grace, Thandukuphila and House of Shallon were offered comfort kits that included essential goods such as a face cloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, sanitary pads, lotion, underwear, treats, diapers, toilet paper, pens and a diary. In 2020 a company called Foskor also donated 104 packs of pads to La Basadi to include in the comfort kits.
La Basadi has a presence throughout South Africa, with about 15 members in Pretoria and Johannesburg. Other members are located in the Free State and Durban. Today the organisation has members in charge of its treasury, editing committee, communications team, media team and running the La Basadi website.
Over this weekend the La Basadi organisation will be doing its first volunteer work in houses of safety and orphanages around Johannesburg. This will include cleaning, talking to victims and helping out wherever the volunteers can.
The La Basadi website has a section where people can donate food, money or any clothing items: “When someone donates to La Basadi, they can choose whether they want to be part of the organisation or just donors,” said Lerato.
FEATURED IMAGE: Lerato Bulunga Photo: Sizwe Mtshali
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