Thabang Skwambane is co-founder and executive director of Kaelo Consulting, a successful health and wellness company specializing in HIV/AIDS programmes and founding Director of The Lonely Road Foundation, an organization set up to help rural communities manage their own Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) problems.
Born in Gaborone, Botswana, and raised in Namibia, in what was the former South West Africa, during the Apartheid era, Thabang now lives and works in Johannesburg. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance) degree from the University of Cape Town, Thabang went from working for Mark Shuttleworth to banking and left a successful career at Standard Bank as a Merchant Banker to get involved in the struggle of our era, preserving our quality of life.
He is supported by leading South Africans like Clem Sunter and Justice Edwin Cameron and in a show of support before his epic journey Cyril Ramaphosa says in an e-mail to Thabang: “It is a rare commodity to find someone who is willing to fight to preserve and enhance the lives of others so selflessly”.
He has committed himself to fighting not just HIV/AIDS but also other “silent killers” that South Africans neglect to prevent such as Diabetes, Hypertension and Cholesterol. His belief and that of Kaelo, a company that manages almost 1,000 HIV positive patients and many more Chronic Disease sufferers, is that if you keep the breadwinner of the family alive and productive, the entire family unit has the best opportunity of survival.
Kaelo Consulting is a testament to South Africans and Africans that HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence and through Thabang and his partner’s dedication it has made an indelible mark on South African society. Kaelo continues to enhance the value of life through their chronic disease management and clinical offering nationwide to both the medically insured and uninsured.
Through his work in the HIV/AIDS space, Thabang has become passionate about “the Lost Generation”, a generation of young Africans who are without love, support, means and opportunity. With 60,000 child headed households in South Africa alone, he predicts that the incidence of crime, prostitution and domestic violence will only escalate until all South Africans mobilize into action
“We all need to stop complaining about what is wrong and instead ask ourselves what it is that we should be doing about the problem? How can I play a role in making our country and our people strong again? It is not a racial issue it is now a societal issue, every one of us who has even a little bit will become the target of those who have nothing and they will take from us!” Thabang says.
Thabang, got on a bicycle, alone and unsupported and cycled to Mt. Kilimanjaro (Moshe) in Tanzania. This journey of 5,456 kms took him through 6 countries and at the end of his journey he climbed Kilimanjaro with friends and family. He, experienced great hardship during this 3 month escapade, he was robbed at knife-point, endured the cold, the heat, illness, wild animals, was hit by a truck, suffered dysentery, lived with the local people and lost 14 kilograms. His challenge was to maintain a substantial distance per day, 110 kilometers, and to arrive at the foot of Kilimanjaro within a certain time frame. He has been recognised for his achievement by the media, his peers and was selected as a finalist in the Johnny Walker Striding Man Search competition. He can now be seen speaking to multitudes of people about the importance of “mobilizing to save our country”.
Thabang’s journey is a poignant reminder of the life of OVC’s and the challenges that they are faced with as they go through life alone and unsupported and at the end of their lives they are faced with a mountain to climb as society requires them to contribute equally to those who have access to opportunities.
The Lonely Road Foundation has raised over R1,200,000 and is looking to build a strong network of volunteers, NGO’s, CBO’s and FBO’s to provide rural and underprivileged communities with the access that they need. “We will ensure that the state is given the best opportunity to carry out its mandate according to the constitution.” Thabang says
“The work has only just begun, my journey although long and hard is only the beginning of an even harder challenge, a war against an enemy we cannot see and who has already struck leaving us with millions of Casualties of War!” Thabang explains passionately.
On a lighter note:
Thabang was a finalist in the Johnny Walker Striding Man Search competition – 2008
Thabang was awarded 6th place in GQ best dressed men of South Africa – 2009
Glamour magazine’s female readers voted Thabang as the man they would want to marry – 2009