What we do

Thembisa, established in April 1988, is a UK registered charity based in Oxford and run by volunteers in the UK and South Africa.

  • Funds are raised through donations, events, Christmas card sales etc.

  • All projects are vetted before being adopted, their progress is monitored, and reports published in the annual newsletter, "Thembisa Today"

  • The Trust's finances are handled by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

  • Administrative costs are covered through the Membership Scheme so that 100% of all donations are given to projects.


Thembisa has funded about 75 projects since the Trust was founded in 1988. As of March 2015, project funding amounted to about £302,000. Projects supported are all at the grassroots level and are as diverse as orphanages, preschools, employment opportunities, self help training schemes, leadership training, social empowerment, handcrafts, clean water supply, and more.

Thembisa's annual walk and barbecue  - Sunday 30 July 2017

Please join us on Sunday 30 July. Walk (3 miles) starts at Tiddington Village Hall at 14h30. Barbecue starts at Ferndale, Albury View, Tiddington OX9 2LQ at 16h00; £12/adult, £6/under 10. RSVP 01865 766117 or grace.townshend@ntlworld.com if you plan to come; please leave your contact details!

 All proceeds will go to our focus projects, Mama Ntombi's Community projects near Pietermaritzburg in South Africa, and the Chishawasha Orphans' Project in Zimbabawe - both making a difference in the lives of needy people.

NEWS: Stephen Bowley 17.2.1952-9.10.2017

We are very sad to announce that Stephen Bowley died of melanoma on 9 October, and we extend our deep sympathy to his wife Tonia and sons Adam and David. Together with Tonia, Stephen co-founded The Thembisa Trust in 1988. Since then Thembisa has supported more than 70 grassroots projects in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Stephen was a Trustee of Thembisa throughout that time, and was Chair of the Trustees since 2009. In 2016 Stephen and Tonia also co-founded the St Cross College Thembisa Hope Scholarship, to support deserving disadvantaged students from South Africa and neighbouring countries to study for a Master's degree in Oxford.

Stephen’s involvement in Thembisa’s activities (including our annual fund-raising walk, which he led, followed by a garden party/barbecue at his and Tonia’s home) demonstrated his compassion and concern for the less well off. He was generous in countless other ways too, offering his help wherever needed, and mentoring many colleagues in the planning world. He was a deep thinker, organised, hard working, kind, and fun-loving. We will all miss him very much.

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