Our Story

From devastation to liberation, this is the story of how the Iviwe Hope Foundation was born.

It all started with a wedding…

In June of 2021, Renaldo Jacobs flew himself, his wife and his 10-month-old son to the Eastern Cape to witness two of his friends tie the knot and begin a new chapter together.

As Renaldo sipped on celebratory brandy, he looked over to his wife, tending to his child. He felt at peace knowing his family was happy, including his two beloved dogs, who were back in Cape Town, and taken care of by Maggie.

Maggie had begun working for the Jacobs family two years prior. What began as small tasks and domestic chores quickly led to a blossoming relationship with the Jacobs’, where the young son Noah formed a strong bond with Maggie, almost as strong as that of his grandparents.

Over the weekend of the wedding, Maggie, her daughter Lucy, and her grandchildren Unathi and Iviwe hung out at the Jacobs’ house. They watched Disney movies in the lounge, laughed and sang as they cooked meals together, walked the dogs in the park, played board games as a family and slept peacefully at night.

After his return flight was delayed, Renaldo arrived home late—too late for Maggie and her family to take public transport back to Nyanga, the township where they lived. Renaldo packed his car with the family’s bags and drove them home to the location.

As they arrived at the entrance of Nyanga, the hairs on Renaldo’s neck began to stand up. Maggie and Lucy insisted that he drop them off where he was, that they’d take their bags and walk the remainder of the way home.

As worried as he was for his safety, Renaldo couldn’t fathom leaving the family on the side of the road, even to walk in streets they were accustomed to. Deeper and deeper, he drove into the township, quietly fearing for his life with each corner he turned.

As he pulled up at their home, Renaldo’s heart sank. For the first time in his life, he finally saw the place that Maggie, Lucy and the girls called home—an exposed, unprotected and fragile house that, only a few months earlier…

Was a crime scene…

It was the middle of the night. Darkness cloaked the city, and while most people slept soundly in their beds…

Danger found its way to Maggie’s front door.

There was a loud thud, the door had been kicked in. Then there was a crash, the windows were shattered. Sounds of intruders filled the little house. The deep and low voices of several men echoed through the rooms.

At first, it was words, they talked amongst themselves freely, fearlessly. Then came the laughter. They were confident; experienced. They’d done this before, many times. They’d get what they came for.

Armed with guns, the men moved through the house, perusing the items on offer. They arrived at the bedroom and found Maggie and her family cowering in a corner. Lucy wrapped her arms around the little girls, covering their eyes with her hands as best as she could so that they wouldn’t see.

“Give us your bags. Your phones. And any money you have,” the leader demanded.

“If you don’t,” he said, “we’ll rape those children. And make you watch.”

With guns raised in their direction, Maggie and Lucy frantically collected their things and handed over what little possessions they had in exchange for their lives.

The men collected their bounty. As they exited, they collected the family’s valuable belongings and sentimental items and cleared out the house.

“We’re not done,” the leader said before he left the bedroom. “We’ll come back.”

Maggie, Lucy and the girls stayed huddled in the corner, crying and shaking until the sun rose.

That Monday, Maggie fled to her employers. Visibly shaken, biting down tears, she told Renaldo what happened: the invasion, the robbery, the rape threats, the robbery. She explained how she’d gone to the police, but even though they knew exactly which group of men had committed the crime, there was nothing the police could do.

Sometime after, Maggie asked Renaldo for help securing a bank loan to build a fence around the house to secure the property. Instead of approaching the bank, he offered the loan personally and began the process of securing a contractor.

In Nyanga, seeing the house with his own eyes, looking at Maggie’s ‘place of safety,’ Renaldo realised that no fence or structure would protect this home.

The only thing that would help bring safety and security to Maggie and her family, would be for them to live somewhere else—somewhere they could feel safe and at peace.

After returning home from Nyanga, Renaldo broke down.

Tears filled his eyes thinking about his own family. Anxious thoughts flooded his mind; he could never imagine his child being so unsafe.

That night, he was unable to sleep. Comfortable in his warm bed, safely enclosed by the high walls of his residential estate, protected by the 24-hour security team outside, Renaldo’s mind raced. He kept replaying Maggie’s story of the burglary, imagining the event with extra clarity, now that he’d seen where the crime took place.

He thought of Unathi and Iviwe who had been sleeping peacefully in his bed for the past few nights, who now were back in the township—woken from sleep by the sounds of gunshots, kept awake by the fear of the men returning to follow through with their threats.

No child should ever have these fears. Not even one…

By the end of the week, Renaldo had sourced three rental properties and presented them to Maggie.

“Choose your favourite,” he said to her.

“This will be your new home.”

Three months later, Maggie, Lucy and the girls packed up their few belongings and drove out of Nyanga for good. They moved into a gated estate with 24-hour security in Kuils River.

With running water, electricity, doors that lock and a room for each person, the family settled into their new home.

For the first time in a very long time, Maggie, Lucy, Unathi and Iviwe slept through the night, uninterrupted.

One month later, Lucy secured full-time employment.

Unathi, after being in her first english speaking school, improved in her academics all round by 15%.

Iviwe came in the top 5 for her grade for academics.

Life was starting to look different.

After seeing how quickly Maggie and her family started thriving, Renaldo realised he, with help, could do this for another family. And another. And another.

He got to work and registered the Iviwe Hope Foundation as a non-profit organisation—named Iviwe after Maggie’s youngest daughter.

Iviwe means, “God heard our prayers.”

The Iviwe Hope Foundation is currently seeking funding to pursue more housing and rehoming projects.

Learn more about our project or donate to the Iviwe Hope Foundation.

Give a Family a New Home and New Hope

A new home in a safe environment creates a new future for a child in need. There are thousands of children who go to sleep at night worrying for their safety. You can be the reason that a child sleeps soundly and escapes a life of fear.