At greendawning, we are action-oriented and live by the rule of ‘walk the talk’. We believe that living in the world today requires everyone to do their bit to move towards happier, healthier, and more sustainable futures. Marion Wagner of Breadline Africa is one of those people who continues to inspire with her passion for social equality and her love for all the creatures on this earth.
Marion is greendawning’s first inspiring personality featured and we are so excited to be supporting an organisation that shares our mission and values. Marion is the Director of Breadline Africa and joined the organisation in 2014 with the intention of staying for 1-2 years. Here she is, still at it, and continuing her fight to alleviate poverty and foster better early childhood education in South Africa.
We met with Marion, and she told us a bit about Breadline Africa:
“Breadline Africa was started in 1993 primarily as a grant giving organisation to address poverty alleviation projects in impoverished communities. Over the years, the need for infrastructure at pre-schools became our main area of focus as this is the costliest thing for an ECD [Early Child Development] principal to address and often the greatest stumbling block for them to register for grant subsidies.”
“So, in summary, we replace unsafe structures with converted shipping containers or prefabricated structures (also brick and mortar structures in rural KZN and Eastern Cape) to ensure that children have a safer and more conducive learning environment. We also provide libraries and feeding kitchens in low quintile primary schools across the country.”
From 2000 to 2011, Marion was on international assignments in various marketing and project management roles as part of her 20-year career with Shell. When the opportunity presented itself to return to Cape Town and join the non-profit and for-purpose world in 2011, Marion jumped at the opportunity to use her skills to make a difference in her home country.
For Marion, the highlight of working at Breadline Africa in the for-purpose sector has been:
“Working for a large multinational is dynamic, challenging, and exciting but you often don’t see the difference you are making in the bigger picture. At Breadline, ever action has a direct impact and the rewards in terms of seeing the sheer delight and joy on the faces of the children when they see their new classroom or flushing toilets makes all the long hours worthwhile. We have a small team and amazing board of directors who share the passion of the work we do and believe every child has the right to a decent education and a chance to escape the cycle of poverty.”
At greendawning, we aim to incorporate our values and passions into everything we do. Marion incorporates many of her values and passions into the work she does:
“I am passionate about animals and their plight in the informal settlements. There is so much neglect, lack of education and abuse and so few organisations working to help them. When we started supporting different feeding kitchens last year, we spotted dogs in the feeding lines and reached out to donors to provide dog food. We support Help a Paw working in Macassar Informal Settlement and TEARS who have been tremendous in assisting dogs needing to be removed.”
At greendawning we are proud to be collaborating with Breadline Africa by donating a percentage of each purchase and promoting Breadline Africa on our website to increase public awareness. We are committed to aligning with organisations that share our values, and as Marion says:
“We share values in terms of environmental, health and reducing cruelty. The founder of greendawning has been one of our biggest supporters in helping our four-legged beneficiaries and preventing suffering and cruelty. Environmentally we recycle and extend container lives for another 20+ years instead of them rusting and ending up in landfill sites. Our feeding schemes also receive nutritionally healthy food – proteins and fresh vegetables to boost children’s immune systems.”
Marion’s compassion has led her to roles in the NGO sector including Chief Operating Officer at Umthombo Wesizwe, followed by a Deputy Director position at African Solutions to African Problems in Cape Town. She is passionate about her civic responsibility and is a previous chairman of the Muizenberg Improvement District; volunteered with the Homestead Street Children’s Project; a former Neighbourhood Watch committee member and volunteered for five years as wildfire fighter with the Volunteer Wildfire Services. She is also an outdoor junkie and has run more than 50 marathons including 11 at ultra-distance and completed the Enduroman team challenge which included relay swimming the Channel.
“We are extremely grateful to greendawning for choosing us as the first NPO and we look forward to seeing greendawning grow in this much needed space of connecting like-minded consumers with products locally made, environmentally friendly and ethically sourced.”
We are so inspired by people like Marion who continue to live according to their values and passions and are pushing, every single day, for better living conditions, more equitable social policies, better treatment of animals, and better education in South Africa. At greendawning we are honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with organisations like Breadline Africa and individuals like Marion, who are walking the talk every day.