The face of FATHERHOOD

Determined and kind-hearted, Joseph Mpyana is a social entrepreneur and CSR strategist based in Ballito. But, it’s his role as dad to two beautiful children that really drives his ambition.

Dad to Amaya (4) and Amani (5), and husband to Lesego, family is at the centre of Joseph’s world.
“Raising kids is an incredible experience – they make you a better person. And a way more tired person,” he laughs. Although he was always motivated to drive positive change, both professionally and in his own community, becoming a dad was a game-changer, and he says fatherhood made him more ambitious than ever. “When I had kids, I thought about how I grew up,” he says. “I want them to have all the opportunities I never had. It’s about the exposure, it’s about the environment that they get to grow up in and how they get to perceive themselves.”

Joseph is the CEO of Move Africa, a corporate social responsibility management company, and co-founder of The Red Movement, an NPO dedicated to eradicating period poverty. When he and Lesego first launched these organisations, their focus was on addressing period poverty, but they always knew that they wanted to branch out and affect change over multiple socio-economic challenges. “It has taken us almost four years to develop these other projects, but we wanted to do it in a sustainable and meaningful way,” says Joseph.

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Now, they’re in a place where they’re able to broaden their focus and are working on a project that revolves around early childhood development, a cause that’s particularly close to Joseph’s heart. He and his team are transforming under-resourced classrooms and crèches. This includes equipping them with everything they need – like toys and learning materials – as well as upskilling the people taking care of the children.

They’re also working on improving health and safety in under-resourced schools. “We started doing some research and found that there’s a lot of injury-related deaths in schools across Africa, because the schools aren’t equipped,” he explains. “So, we’re going to build or revamp first aid rooms in schools, and fully equip them.”

Joseph’s interest in education comes from his own experience as a child. “I went to a small primary school in a flat in the middle of Johannesburg’s CBD,” he explains. “It was extremely under-resourced and there was nothing about that space that encouraged or inspired.” After primary school, he had the opportunity to attend King Edward VII School and this is where his eyes were opened to a bigger world. “That’s where everything changed for me,” he says. “So, I fully understand what environment can do for a child. I’m the product of a changed environment.”

Joseph is very involved in his children’s education and is on the School Governing Body (SGB) at his son’s primary school. “It gives me the opportunity to be a part of creating an environment that they can be proud of, “ he says. “Whatever community environment we’re in, we can’t afford to be passengers. We need to be active participants and this is a way to build legacy and contribute to the community.”

The family loves spending time together outdoors, swimming or riding bikes. They also spend as much time as they can in the bush, where they feel most at home. “The kids have learnt to appreciate wildlife,” he says. “And we’re so blessed to have the opportunity to be able to experience that with them.” With Father’s Day approaching Joseph is looking forward to a day of rest – he and Lesego have a tradition of giving each other a day off from parental responsibilities on Mother’s and Father’s Day. “Once a year, I’m a bachelor for the day,” he laughs.

Details: www.moveafricaco.com; IG: @move_africa_co; @the_red_movement_

Text: Jennifer Campbell Image: Shren Media
Kids’ hair: Brighter Kidz Salon Ballito
Location: Next Level, Ballito Lifestyle Centre

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