It’s the last Friday of the month – again – and the day on which bloggers from around the world post a good news story as a way of mitigating the ongoing wave of negativity that can permeate into our lives. Good news stories remind us of all the good that is in the world and what individuals can achieve in helping alleviate the struggles that the disadvantaged face.

The story below is remarkable. I confess that I didn’t know of this benefactress and her work in Cape Town, South Africa.

Established in 2001 by Christel DeHaan, its efficacy is proven through a 99% Matric pass rate with 93% of alumni studying, working or both.

Christel DeHaan – True Hero


By Alec Hogg

“Among my memorable assignments was a visit five years ago to Christel House, Cape Town’s 750-pupil Grade R to Matric school which only enrols children from abject poverty (household income under R1,500pm). Established in 2001 by Christel DeHaan, its efficacy is proven through a 99% Matric pass rate with 93% of alumni studying, working or both.

News reached us yesterday that DeHaan, 77, co-founder of global timeshare giant RCI, passed away on Saturday at her home in Indianapolis. Born during World War Two, she was a toddler when her father was killed in a bombing raid. She made her fortune after emigrating to the US from Germany as a 20 year old.

After banking $850m when selling out of RCI in 1996, DeHaan applied her fortune to helping children from backgrounds similar to hers. Her vision was to reach into the poorest communities and grant 100% scholarships to excellent education for children, covering everything from uniforms to food and professionalhealthcare.

DeHaan’s Endless Success Foundation will ensure eight Christel Houses around the world continue to give their 6,000 students a hand up. Adri Marais, CEO of Christel House SA, says the benefactor was “an absolute force for change.” From the smiling kids I met on my visit to the Cape establishment, that’s quite an understatement”.

From me and I’m sure on behalf of all South Africans who read this, I extend my thanks to Christel DeHaan who, with her donation from the DeHaan’s Endless Success Foundation, founded this very successful school in Ottery, Cape Town. On her recent death I extend my condolences and may her dear soul rest in peace.

The hosts for this month McGrathSusan Scott , Shilpa GargDamyanti Biswas,  Belinda Witzenhausen.

Do pop by their stories. They’re sure to bring a smile to your face and a warming of the cockles of your heart.

If you’d like to be part of spreading the good news, please click on the link to add your name. To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!

Thank you for reading. Have a great weekend. May the Force be with you all.

47 Comments on #WATWB education

  1. That’s a perfect share, Susan – a very positve and inspiring story. It’s especially meaningful to me because of my passion for education.

    • I can imagine how you appreciated it Norah, thanks for coming by. Finding it hard to come up with a good news story this coming Friday .. 🙂 all is rather meh ..

      • I haven’t had time to join in the last couple of months, Susan. I’m looking forward to joining in again – maybe next month. I know what you mean, though. I’m sure you’ll find something.

  2. Susan this post definitely served to lift the spirits and counter the negativity that is in the world right now. It is amazing how ONE person can have such positive impact on so many lives. A lot of us can have momentary kindness toward other humans and or animals, but this kind of systemic support to fund tuition for those in need, is truly impressive. What a wonderful tribute to her life.

    Thanks for bringing our attention to this true hero in every sense of the word.

    • Thanks Peta for coming by and for your lovely comment. I’m sorry I’m late in responding. Yours was in ‘spam and one or two others as well. Education is the way to go and especially for those who are unable to afford good quality education. Christel DeHaan is a true hero.

  3. Dear Susan, Thank you for bringing a “True Hero” to our attention. And sad, how she is no longer with us. Her legacy is. 💕 A reminder how one person can make a significant difference. This story did bring a smile to my face, and tears. Thank you for letting us not forget the good, kindness, generosity and humanity that exists in our world. (Susan, I am trying again to see whether my comment will go through. I don’t think you moderate comments? Or, you may get four comments from me – I am curious whether this may be happening to other sites I try to leave a comment)

    • Hi again, Susan, Looks like it worked after four times. This morning I resubscribed to your blog and this seems to have done the trick. xx

    • Hi Erica, sorry that you had that hassle and thank you for persevering and coming by 🙂 No, I don’t moderate comments. When a link is added then I’m asked to moderate and approve, a way of checking spam I guess. Yes, she was one remarkable lady and I hadn’t heard of her sterling work in Cape Town and elsewhere. I actually had another post drafted for #WATWB and Christel DeHaan popped up the day before; and since she died fairly recently (June 2nd if my memory serves) it seemed important to bring her to notice.

  4. Such a great story about Christel DeHaan and her legacy. Thanks so much for sharing this as well as for co-hosting and being a part of #WATWB.

    • Thanks for coming by Belinda, a great woman indeed. And thanks to you to for co-hosting and being a valuable part of #WATWB 🙂 Have a great week.

  5. What a wonderful sharing, Susan, and what a legacy of education for the poor, inspired by her own difficult beginnings. As someone said, a saintly woman to generously help those most in need. As my auntie would say, “She certainly earned lots of stars in her crown.” Thanks for this, and for cohosting 🙂

    • Thanks for your lovely comment LIzbeth. I’m so pleased to have come across her and am shamed that I didn’t know of her before. I wonder how many South Africans do? I suspect she flew under the radar by choice. I agree with your auntie – earned stars in her crown .. 🙂

  6. Hi Susan – amazing that she kept such a low profile … and yet was recognised by some, ignored by other local leaders. This is fantastic – thank you for letting us know about her – sounds like she’s been a great influence throughout her life – so much to learn from. and for the kids with the education to learn about … wonderful news. Sad she has gone – but what a legacy … take care – Hilary

    • I actually had another post drafted the day before to put up for #WATWB but came across this one via SA The Good News and I had honestly never heard of her and the wonderful school here in SA as well as elsewhere. Also she had recently died (June 6) so it seemed right to excerpt this piece by Alec Hogg. Her legacy lives on – Thanks for coming by Hilary, hope all well your side of the pond.

      • I gathered you’d heard about her very recently – so am glad you wrote up about her … amazing woman – long may her legacy live on. All well here … I’m keeping out of the way and in low-down … take care – Hilary

  7. A wonderful testament to a saintly woman giving back in memory of her own difficult beginnings. Thanks for finding and sharing her story.

    • “an absolute force for change.” – the words of the CEO Adri Marais of Christel House SA. That she certainly was. Thank you for coming by Donna and have a lovely weekend 🙂

  8. I love to hear stories of those who share their financial success with those in need of schooling, financial support, emotional support, food, shelter, etc. There is a special place in heaven for Ms. DeHaan, I’m sure of it.

    • They’re true benefactors who can use their fortune for education I agree Mary. Thanks for coming by and have a lovely weekend 🙂

  9. A wonderful share Susan. It’s so heart-warming to hear of people dedicating their fortunes to good work that touches so many – the legacy lives on and moves in directions one can only guess at.

    • A very generous American woman indeed Deborah. Her legacy will hopefully last, in spite of her recent death. Thank you for coming by and have a great weekend 🙂

  10. Making the best of your situation then doing what you can to help others, that is a testament to this woman’s inner strength and makes her a wonderful role model. Thanks for sharing and being a part of #WATWB.

    • She is a role model indeed. A very generous benefactor to this school in Cape Town. Sadly, she died recently hence this tribute to her, an American woman. Happy birthday Ashlynn 🙂 and thanks for coming by and for all that YOU do for #WATWB..

  11. Endless Success Foundation is such a positive name. I love it and the educational help that has happened because of it. Ingenuity, with a bit of capital, is what makes good things happen.

    • Thanks Ally Bean for your lovely comment. I like very much that the notice outside the classroom (in the little video) says ‘This classroom was donated by an anonymous donor from the United States of America’. Have a great weekend 🙂

  12. Dear Susan, It’s always wonderful to read the heart-warming stories you share at #WATWB (I’ll check in with the others in the days to come). Thank you for sharing this one, especially as it’s only a few weeks after her, Christel DeHaan, death at the start of this month.

    Hopefully her substantial legacy will live on for many more years to come and benefit thousands more of the poorest children with her generosity and kind-hearted, charitable vision. What amazing, inspiring educational statistics too! Love and light, Deborah.

    • Hopefully you listened to Alec Hogg’s short video from 5 years ago. It says a little more about the school and how she wanted to further her reach here in SA but the ruddy government was not interested. And it is REALLY remarkable how these poorest or poor children did so well at this well funded school; the pass rate is testament to that as is their going on to further education –

      Thanks for coming by Deborah! Have a lovely weekend. Getting much cooler here as it hots up in the UK. Love and Light to you too ..

      • Yes, I did just listen! Alex gives so much more background to this success story. What a truly wonderful woman Christel DeHaan was!

        The UK temperature is around 30 degrees maybe higher this week. It’s unbearably hot and as you say, the opposite for you.

        Love Deborah from the North.

  13. A lovely and heartening post, Susan. It is nice to read that her education attempts have ended well for the children as that is not always the case here in SA. Some institutions that start with good intentions go very pear shaped. Have a lovely weekend.

    • Thanks Robbie for coming by! Definitely a good news story on education here in good ol’ SA. You too have a lovely weekend. I hear it’s warming up slightly in Jo’burg after the big freeze 🙂

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