Overcoming the age barrier

NOAH helps pensioners retain their dignity and contribute to society constructively

NOAH helps pensioners retain their dignity and contribute to society constructively

Founded in 1981 by Catholic Welfare and Development, NOAH is a non-profit organisation that attends to the welfare of older people. The ethos of the company is that the elderly offer an enormous resource and form the backbone of communities, and therefore should be allowed to live fully independent lives that are respectful and rich. NOAH supports older people in achieving this independence through sustainable initiatives and thereby reduces the burd–en of care on families, communities and the government.

“We believe in the value of older persons and their role in society,” says NOAH’s director Anne Dobson. “Our services are designed to support older persons, as their impact can extend far beyond the roles that they play. Just because you turn 60 you don’t have to put your feet up and wait for the end; there is ample opportunity to live long and active lives, and our job is to support that.”

NOAH enables older people, giving them the resources and confidence they need to continue contributing to society and supporting their own families into the future. Their vision statement is: home, health and happiness for every older person. The organisation provides housing, health and social support and collaborates with partners and the government.

Each year, NOAH delivers a variety of services to more than 700 older people in South Africa. These range from housing to healthcare to nutritious meals and social support. In addition to this, the company has a sustainable strategy that ensures it remains financially viable and not overwhelmingly dependent on donor funding. This is done through the implementation of social enterprise projects that generate operational and beneficiary income. The three areas of focus for the NPO’s sustainability are cost containment, generation of own income and growing reserves.

NOAH is running social enterprise projects from their Woodstock and Khayelitsha centres. The first of these is NOAH Soap, which offers two ranges — one luxury and one hospitality — which are made to order. The soap-makers earn 50% of the actual sales and the balance is used to cover the cost of materials, transport and gas. NOAH has also forged a partnership with The Clothing Bank, a company that is focused on empowering unemployed mothers through enterprise development. This pilot project has five Khayelitsha club members selling high quality clothing and accessories to their communities and networks, with 30% of the proceeds sent to the Khayelitsha Centre and the balance of profit to the sellers. Other initiatives include NOAH Candles, Community Kitchen and The Trestle Table. 

“With a rapidly aging population we need innovative solutions to appropriately address the needs of pensioners, especially those who cannot house, clothe and fed themselves,” says Dobson. “We have a comprehensive and integrated model to address these needs in a way that enables them to become, and remain, active contributors to our society.”

Clearly the recognition of the judges in giving the Editor’s Choice Award to NOAH is testament to the organisation’s commitment to change and bringing about sustainable transformation in the lives of others.