Becoming a national organisation: 2000-2003
A major milestone happened in 2000 in the lead up to an African regional meeting of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology, at Sun City in May. In the days prior to this conference, CHOC hosted a meeting for parents from regional support groups. Here it was decided to form a countrywide organisation for parents of children with cancer, where the Tygerberg group and TOUCH would be merged into a new national CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa.
A constitution was drawn up and finalised at a meeting in Johannesburg later in the year and the application to be registered as a non-profit organisation was approved in early 2001. Marius Hayman became chair in 2000, with Kenneth Dollman taking over in 2001.
The next few years were spent building a common vision for the organisation, while trying to raise each of the division’s support to families to the same level. With no employed staff at a national level, and very few administrative and fundraising staff at divisional level, developments were often limited by the lack of people with the time and skills to initiate and implement ideas and programmes.
Some new initiatives included the development of: a logo and brand identity, a website, improved marketing materials and a clearer view of what the organisation wanted to achieve. Other new groups were established under the CHOC umbrella in the Free State, Durban and Pietermaritzburg between 2001 and 2003.
Opening the first CHOC house
Through exposure to international networks, CHOC took note that many treatment centres had homes associated with them, to alleviate the strain on families of having to travel significant distances to bring a child for treatment.
In the absence of anything like this in Johannesburg, or South Africa, CHOC began to put aside some funds during the late 1990s to purchase a house. Eventually, in 2000, due to sponsorship from several corporates including Investec, Nedbank, Liberty Life, and the Chairman’s Fund of Anglo American Group, the first CHOC house was opened Saxonwold, Jhb, in 2001, by Francois Pienaar.
After several years of looking and negotiating, CHOC opened the first rented premises, known as a lodge, on the grounds of Tygerberg Hospital in 2003 and then another lodge on the grounds of the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban.