UNITED COLORS OF FASHION: A UNIQUE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION

By PHATHUTSHEDZO LUVHENGO

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Indeed United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) is a non-profit organization like no other; it stands adamant on its ideas. This not-for-profit organization goes beyond donation to “real help”.

Who can genuinely relate fashion with charity work, or who might have thought that a not-for-profit organization can use fashion for humanitarian aid?

Surely relating fashion with Charity may seem as a myth to many, but to UCOF it´s just a reality that comes with lots of ecstatic activities. Yes, fashion can be used for humanitarian aid here. Charity donations, it´s not always about donating money but doing what you do best and what you enjoy most to help those in need. Inspired by their family calamities, Ciano Clerjuste, the president and chairman of the board, Veronica Rovegno, Vice President – and a lot of other fashionistas, Wall Street bankers, socialites and philanthropisted listed on their website use fashion for humanitarian causes.

In South Africa, this non-profit organization has partnered with the Soweto Hospice for Humanitarian causes. This partnership was established in early 2011 and came with lots of opportunities and goals. The partnership is not only based on initiating new ideas but to also provide financial assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS, Paralysis and Sickle cell in Soweto.

The hospice Association of Witwatersrand, Soweto Hospice provides care for the HIV/AIDS affected children and their families and guardians. They organise various events which helps to raise funds for their patients. Their aim is to promote and improve quality of life, maintain dignity and alleviate sufferings.

On their recent trip to South Africa, UCOF visited the Mapetla Day Care Centre in Soweto. Their visit to the Day care centre has significantly added to children´s happiness. As most of the children stay with their guardians, they really enjoyed the time spent with the UCOF team. Besides their busy schedule in the country, they managed to dedicate their time not only to the people of the Hospice but also to children at the centre.

Certainly UCOF is an organization like no other. During their visit to Mapetla Day Care, the organization had a party for the children. In addition to serving lots of food, they gave them Easter eggs filled with chocolate, toys, crayons, notebooks, papers and stylish party favors they brought from New York.

One of the children at the Day Care developed a strong love for Ciano, and the two of them were inseparable. Since Ciano´s name was hard for her to pronounce, she called him “Tshiamo.” Ciano loved the name and the girl so much, on his last day, he gave her a bag full of designers clothing from New York. She was extremely pleased. And the bond between the two was developed and surely it will stay long in their memories.

Ms. Lucky Pekane, manager of the centre, said the children were fascinated and they enjoyed the time spent with United Colors Of Fashion. “They were so excited and enjoyed the party,” she said.

Mapetla Day care is the centre for the Soweto hospice. Most children learning there have their parents taken care of by the unit. The Centre accommodates children from various places in the same area. Most children at the Centre don´t have parents due to HIV/AIDS, Paralysis and Sickle cell.

Designer clothes, shoes, jewelry, bags and other merchandise donated are now sold at the Hospice Shop to help raise funds for patients. According to the Marketing Manager of the Hospice, the merchandises are sold for charity and they are helping raising funds for the unit.

Phathutshedzo Luvhengo – A final year Journalism-student at Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa. He is currently an intern for UCOF, and based in South Africa.

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