George is new director at SHAWCO head office

17 February 2004

The university's Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) has a new skipper at its helm.

Varkey George has been appointed as SHAWCO director, stepping into office in January this year. George took over the reins from previous incumbent, Glenn Truran, who left SHAWCO in mid-2003.

Born in India and educated in both his country of birth and in South Africa, George comes to SHAWCO from a kindred organisation at Wits University, the Wits Rural Facility (WRF). The WRF serves as a base for rural-focused research, student training and community outreach in the Bushbuckridge region of the Limpopo province.

When George first joined the WRF, the organisation was cash-strapped and on the brink of closure. Over his time there, he was instrumental in turning the organisation's fortunes around, transforming it into a thriving project sought out by both local and international donors and partners.

SHAWCO, however, presents him with a spray of new challenges.

The organisation is, he said, one of the most complex, absorbing and wonderful he has yet come across.

"The more I come to grips with it, the more I feel that we can turn this organisation into a more interesting one, reducing the complexities by grasping our priorities, streamlining the work that needs to be done, and providing an opportunity for students to reach out into the neighbouring community," he observed. "It is essential that we manage to make a real impact in the community while, at the same time, providing more opportunities for students to engage with the less fortunate part of humankind and learning at the same time.

"Humanity is the key, and the more we give of ourselves, the more we benefit."

George's appointment also coincides with the announcement that Dr Johann Graaff of the Department of Sociology has been named as the new chairperson of the SHAWCO board.

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