Shawco launches Golda Selzer fund

26 October 2004

Shawco, one of the largest student-run volunteer organisations in the world, has launched the Golda Selzer Memorial Fund with a plan to raise R5-million for a multi-purpose community health centre in Khayelitsha.

This is the fund's short-term goal but the more ambitious plan is to bring in a larger sum for an endowment fund, one that will finance the project in perpetuity.

Launched in mid-October, the fund commemorates the late Dr Golda Selzer's contributions to Shawco. It was Selzer, who worked in the pathology laboratory at Groote Schuur Hospital, who backed the instigator of the fledgling organisation, a young medical student named Andrew Kinnear.

Kinnear worked as an ambulance assistant and emergency service provider to pay his tuition. It was the poverty he saw in the Kensington/Windermere communities in the early 1940s that touched him. He was to plant the seeds of an organisation that has served poor communities for over 60 years. It was Selzer to whom he turned for advice and support and who became the driving force behind Shawco.

In an appeal letter to the wider UCT community, former VC and chair of the Golda Selzer Fundraising Committee, Dr Stuart Saunders, said Selzer's involvement had been "consistent and unambiguous".

"It is fair to say that without her drive Shawco could not have achieved such remarkable results. We believe it is important to commemorate the years of dedicated service that she gave to Shawco."

Shawco has identified a building in Khayelitsha for a community health centre. Presently it has limited facilities but the plan is transform it into a student clinic. It would also accommodate other community needs, for example, activity groups for the aged and a rape crisis centre.

It will also be used by UCT's primary health care department to educate students, giving life to the faculty's community-based education programmes. In addition, Shawco will put it to work for their youth development through skills training programmes.

Fittingly, the facility will be called the Golda Selzer Memorial Community Health Centre. The entire development has the support of the university, the local community, and the health department.

"It [Shawco] has been an inspiring example of what a group of students and staff of a university can do in practical terms in partnership with a much poorer and dispossessed community," Saunders said.

(Shawco attracts around 500 UCT students, close to 100 foreign students and 20 community volunteers every year. If you would like to contribute to the fund, please contact Anna du Bois or Wendy Cornelius on 406 6740 or e-mail

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