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 17 July

Thank you so much to everybody who attended our walk/barbecue or sent donations, and to the companies who donated prizes for the raffle. We have raised over £1500 for 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. Special thanks to our Patron and guest of honour on the day, Dame Janet Suzman. Donations can still be sent!

NEWS: A tribute to Cecillie Swaisland (10 July 1926–25 December 2016)

Thembisa sends condolences to Cecillie’s daughters Alison and Ruth. Cecillie’s late husband Charles (see ‘Tributes’ under ‘Our story’) was seminal to the development of Thembisa. Cecillie was a constant support, from their marriage in 1949, through Colonial Service years in Nigeria and then various secondments to Africa, when Cecillie held the fort in the UK or accompanied Charles. Both were characterised by their love of people and desire to serve however they could. Cecillie held three different Master’s degrees and various lectureships and authored several books. She was well-known for her delicious cakes that enhanced Thembisa events.

We thank Alison and Ruth for honouring Cecillie by requesting donations in her memory be made to Thembisa through the Charles and Cecillie Swaisland Memorial Fund. The fund will remain open till the end of July 2017. There are various ways to donate:

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