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  • Writer's pictureGrowing Up Africa

How? When? Why?

Some questions can be demoralizing, like... "Will this project ever be finished?"

Project progress has been communicated regularly; however, not everyone is convinced by words or even photos. The photos below, will convince and maybe even justify your DONATION. Scroll beyond the photos to learn more. "WHY is Growing Up Africa an important initiative?"

Main Campus Entrance: the Devland Soweto Education Campus

North Entrance and Pedestrian Ramp

Campus Entrance through to the Guardhouse and Refuse Building


Terhune is the founder and CEO of Growing Up Africa (GUA), a nonprofit that drives research-based development and design to build resilient education structures for a future of ecological, social, and economic sustainability.

The nonprofit organization recently announced that it has built and will donate its third project, the Devland Soweto Education Campus, a project Terhune conceived and GUA built. Terhune is keen to explain how Chuck Feeney, the Irish American billionaire who famously went "broke" after donating most of his fortune, inspired her journey. In her words:

“The doorman at a building where I rented an apartment, Dennis O’Connell, heard that I was building schools in South Africa and thought I might find Chuck Feeney’s book by Conor O'Clery interesting: The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Made and Gave Away a Fortune Without Anyone Knowing."

"The book sat on my desk for quite a while. A bit disillusioned with my decision to move to NYC, I picked up the book and started to read. A most riveting read."

“It did not take me long to pack up and return to South Africa. I knew I did not have ‘billions,’ but what I did know was that I had the chutzpah and many years of property development and construction experience."

"I decided to build an education campus in Soweto and donate the campus on completion." "So much of what I thought was crazy was validated as truth and possible while reading about Chuck’s journey. He kept my fire burning. And others in South Africa anonymously encouraged when tenacity was the rule of the day, earning the nickname: Woody. [ Woodpecker: a known bird who pecks away until he achieves his goal ]

“Toyota loaned a car, a businesswoman with property a room to stay, and the rest is the history of a ten-year journey. I wasn’t looking for a lifestyle; rather, I was looking to create a ‘style of giving.’

“What I found was no one was coming forth to give, at least I was not able to raise funding to build an R 115m campus. I decided if I could fund the labor and convince companies to donate the material, professional services pro bono, etc., I would tackle what has become a state-of-the-art education campus for a curriculum of STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics] built in an under-resourced and under-served area of Soweto. Astoundingly, the value of the campus grew to more than R 115,000,000 M.

“ Support and encouragement to stay the course came from nights of reading Chuck’s book. I stayed the course because of Charles 'Chuck' Feeney and others, this I know for certain."

“I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, USA, second oldest of seven (6 girls 1 boy). I built a life from humble beginnings. I had no idea where I was headed when I left home at 18. God knew, and I knew that all I had to do was follow his lead. There were more times than not when I would say, “who, me? why me?” Even a book handed over the desk by a doorman a curious gesture."

“I might think this was all serendipity? Not so. God knew what he wanted me to do with my life. I was not about to question.

“There is even a Cornell University [where Feeney attended college] connection. 28 Cornell University students designed and built a second school in South Africa. Cornell did not fund it; it was 100% student-led, start to finish."

"Chuck Feeney’s life story kept me focused. I want to thank Chuck for allowing Conor O’Clery to write his story. Keeping his anonymity without sharing, I may never have built the campus. I can honestly say that without the twists and turns revealed in Chuck’s story and how he managed, I would not have been able to manage my own twists and turns that continue to reveal themselves daily."

“It is with my deepest gratitude that I could be the messenger of God’s will and that he presented an earthly being, Chuck Feeney, and those in SA who gave me the courage to keep going."

What I know for sure: "We can all follow in Chuck Feeny's footsteps. His heart rings true."

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