Community building

DWF endeavours to nurture and develop Hobeni residents and surrounding communities

Numerous associated initiatives complement the Donald Woods Foundation’s work in building communities in a deeply rural area of entrenched poverty where unemployment levels are close to 90% and access to the most basic services urban dwellers take for granted are almost non-existent. Many households rely on communal standpipes for potable water and women still walk long distances to collect firewood to cook for their families.

The Foundation strives to nurture and develop Hobeni residents and surrounding communities through empowerment initiatives that bring direct, tangible benefits to local families. The single biggest infrastructure investment in the region, the Donald Woods Centre at Hobeni, is the focal point of skills development in the region through job and enterprise creation, skills development and job-preparation training for local people where very few opportunities exist.

The Foundation provides assistance, facilitation and training in entrepreneurship and business planning for new ventures and SMMEs, career planning and skills upgrading to increase access to jobs, community initiative planning and the provision of a fully equipped office and conferencing block at the Donald Woods Centre, where Donald Woods was born and spent his childhood.

The Donald Woods Centre functions as a training and resource centre as well as a development node for the surrounding area, affording NGOs, Universities, companies, government departments and other bodies comfortable accommodation, conference, training and meeting facilities in the fully equipped office and training block called the Wendy Woods House.

 “Our vision is to release the potential of people in the most underdeveloped communities in South Africa by working with local partners to make real and lasting improvements in rural health and education, and to build communities.”
Wendy Woods, DWF Founder and Chair 2003-2013

We are headquartered in the heart of where the Foundation works precisely because Foundation trustees and management passionately believe in the principle of rural development programmes being run from the area in which they operate.

While most people living in the area are materially poor, the Foundation does not view local residents as victims but as agents of change who are deeply committed to community development and their own well-being. Rural residents in the area are well-endowed in personal histories, heritage, culture and a deep sense of humanity.

The Donald Woods Centre is a vehicle through which the Foundation helps government and communities to achieve aspects of the SA Government’s 14 point Programme of Action and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In particular, it is the nerve centre from which the DWF strives to achieve its five strategic priorities of contributing to the fight against poverty and under-development in impoverished communities; promoting good health and well-being of people and households; enhancing education, training and awareness in targeted communities together with integrating development initiatives and facilitating economic opportunities and job creation.

Some of our milestones to date include:


More than 9,068 households have been visited by Health in Every Hut (HiEH) programme since June 2013 in the Mbashe area.


50,000 people have been screened for hypertension, diabetes, HIV, TB, dementia, maternal and child health, orphans and vulnerable children.


108,633 people have directly benefitted from the DWF’s multi-drug resistent TB (MDR-TB) programmes in East London and Mdantsane area.