Who we are - Our tribe
LIFE CHANGER was founded in 2017 by three people who separately felt called to minister to those vulnerable to life on the streets of Pietermaritzburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Through a few minor miracles, they were brought together and thus the original LIFE CHANGER "tribe" was born. As our vision has grown, so has the team.
Thami Gcwabaza has been leading a street ministry team for a while, but was out on his own and in many ways was out on his own. He spends hours every week sharing meals, scripture, prayers and compassion with the homeless. His team ensures that those who need medical care, receive it and those who need psycho-social support find their way there. Walking the streets with him is a marvel, when he the name and back story to many of the his clientele. The currency on the streets is trust and Thami works hard to earn and keep the trust of those he encounters on a daily basis. His passion is to see these downtrodden individuals made whole and returned to their home community, knowing how valuable and loved they are in the eyes of Christ. As a core theme to LIFE CHANGER, Thami is working hard to make his own job obsolete, doing all he can to eradicate homelessness by making a difference one life at a time. All this, while he works towards completing his BCom Marketing degree. Thami is our Street and Community Engagement Co-ordinator, and Co-Founder of Life Changer.
Caroline Holley was struck one day by the thought that the only thing separating her from the lady on the street corner begging for morsels was the family into which she was born. Challenged by the 40Acts initiative run by Stewardship UK, she created care hampers for those beggars and homeless she encountered daily. This spurred on a realisation that whilst a care hamper was great, personal contact was better. She reached out to her pastor, who was the common link to Rob and Thami and the rest is history. She has a special interest in finding creative and innovative ways to meets the needs of the homeless community which will be a hand up rather than a hand out. Caroline has a PGCE, a Masters Degree in English Literature and Certificate in Creative Writing from Oxford University. Her heart is to change hearts and minds about the most vulnerable in her community, to encourage others to see those who feel most invisible. She is our Public Relations, Church and Business Lead and Co-Founder of Life Changer.
Esperande Bigirimana is a teacher, scholar, counsellor, highly qualified academic and deeply empathetic member of our team. She hails from Burundi and has lived in South Africa for many years. She has specialised experience with working with victims of rape and trauma, extensive theological knowledge and innovative approaches to empowering victims towards their path to healing. Her qualifications include a Masters degree in Theology and Development from UKZN, as well as a diploma in teaching. She has contributed to numerous academic publications from her research and experience in helping victims of sexual trauma. Esperande has joined the team with a specific intention to serve at the Life Boat, so that she can help facilitate meaningful connections and conversations with those who come there for assistance. She will also work with our clients ready for family reunification. She loves God and has a passion to see people uplifted.
Veronica "Mum V" Myaka is a mother of four children, including her sibling and a foster child. She has been taking care of vulnerable children for 18 years and has such a heart to do much "for the least of these" because she is doing it for the Lord. She has been working for the One Life Foundation since 2010 and is now at the Life Boat daily to support those who come there in any way she can. Her unconditional kindness to those who are vulnerable is supernatural, and she has enormous wisdom gleaned from years of experience in the arena of working with those who have a need for a mother figure, hence her affectionate nickname, "Mum V".
Newly appointed, but long time friend of Life Changer, Stacie Adams, officially joined the Life Changer/One Life Foundation team at the end of 2021 as a full-time volunteer. With a long list of qualifications from her home country, Australia, and also from South Africa, she is highly up to the task to assist with social work and development of programmes at the Life Boat. Having worked with Life Changer and Youth for Christ for a number of years, specifically with skills development, inter-personal development and programme development, Stacie is passionate about seeing people and teams be the best that they can be.
Stacie has a keen heart for social justice, but is also highly executive in her thinking, which means that she is a person who gets things done, with excellence, and always with the consideration for the greater good for those she represents or works with. Stacie shares her time between the Life Boat and the One Life Foundation.
Nkosinathi Zulu is a part of the Life Boat team and works with a special advantage: he knows first hand what it means to be homeless and abandoned. His background is novel-worthy and his story is one of victory over adversity and triumph over potential disaster. Abandoned as a baby, Nkosi has lived through many of the experiences our clients have and understands their circumstances better than most of us ever could. This, along with his unwavering faith in Jesus, makes him a valuable asset to our team and a constant reminder that there is a way out of homelessness.
Media whizz, Sibo Ncgobo, joined our team in 2022 to work the social media, marketing and digital design needs for our project. Every post on our media since then, has been his handy work. Sibo also helps at the Life Boat to get a first hand view of what we do on a day to day basis, and helps us out by driving for deliveries, collections and staff transport.
Co-Founder, Rob Ng-Yu-Tin was a social worker in Northern Ireland before he and his family came to South Africa in 2003. He spent fifteen years working with families suffering through the HIV/AIDs crisis of the early 1990s, when Pietermaritzburg was considered the epicentre of the HIV pandemic. Rob then shifted focus to the second wave of the tsunami that was: the children who are no longer little children but young adults facing the ramifications of families destroyed in the two decades prior. He is passionate about family, family repatriation and family reunification, and seeing those who are alone in society finding someone who is absolutely crazy about them. He is a highly qualified, with vast experience helping trauma victims and addicts; working within the foster and orphan care structures in South Africa and HIV treatment programs.
Before returning to Northern Ireland at the end of 2020, Rob was Director of Strategic Innovation for Life Changer. He now plays a pivotal role as advisor and will always have a deep calling to see the the lonely put into family.