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The Children of SKY: Bob Nameng at TEDxWarwick 2013

In March Warwick was lucky enough to welcome the wonderful Bob Nameng, founder and leader of Soweto Kliptown Youth (SKY). His foundation provides shelter, food, education, company and above all, hope, to the young people of Kliptown. He visited Warwick as a guest and speaker at the annual TEDxWarwick conference, delivering a stirring and powerful talk and telling his story.

Bob NamengBob is an inspirational character. Born in the Meadowlands township in apartheid-era South Africa, he endured an extraordinarily difficult childhood. At 16, however, having moved to Kliptown on the other side of Johannesburg, he founded what was to become SKY. His foundation is dedicated to providing a safe haven for the children and youth of Kliptown.

Now sheltering around 70, SKY is a shining beacon of human compassion, representing hope and opportunity for young people. Alex Clark, current student and coordinator of TEDxWarwick 2013 taught in Soweto for six weeks in the summer of 2012 as a Warwick in Africa participant.

I taught in Soweto for six weeks in the summer of 2012 as a Warwick in Africa participant. During my stay, I met Bob for the first time, along with my colleagues, and was able to spend some (though not nearly enough) time at SKY working and playing with the fantastic group of young people and kids living there.

We were collectively astounded at the giving, caring and utterly sincere nature of the youth of SKY. Many of them had suffered the death of one or both parents, often as a result of HIV/AIDS, or had experienced first-hand the ravages of extreme poverty, disease and violence. Nevertheless, the way we were welcomed spoke volumes of their immense maturity and purity of values.

Yet none of it would have happened without Bob. Having recently taken over the reins at TEDxWarwick, it occurred to me that Bob would have an inspiring story to tell, and one that needed to be heard. I introduced him to the TEDx concept, and a few months and phone calls later, his flights were booked and he was coming to Warwick. He delivered a truly inspiring talk at the conference and spent some time with the unique group of speakers also in attendance.

Please take a few minutes to watch his talk, especially if you're going to Africa this summer - Bob's shining example has something to teach us all. For more information about Bob, visit SKY's website, and for more on TEDxWarwick, please visit our homepage. Alex Clark, Coordinator of TEDxWarwick 2013. Can be contacted at alex@tedxwarwick.com.

Find out about Warwick in Africa here