1. Raise the Children International (RTC) identifies, selects and contracts orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) into our network of scholars. We work with nearly 50 children in South Africa today.

2. RTC makes core investments in high quality education for the orphans and vulnerable children in our community by recruiting international college graduates to teach school for a year in South Africa. Through this recruitment we are able to enrich the schools of South Africa with strong teachers and receive scholarships for our children to attend these private schools for free.

3. In addition, we supplement our scholars’ education with entrepreneurial, leadership and practical skills training, including problem solving, conflict resolution and opportunities to implement business plans on their school campus. This extra-curricular investment is founded on three core pillars of integrity, education and service.

4. We provide on-the-ground mentors for sponsored children once they move into high school.

5. We build ties to companies that offer scholarship or work/study opportunities for our scholars. These partnerships provide a menu of employment options for our young people and create opportunities for our scholars to get jobs upon graduation.

6. We maintain and update a database of university scholarships to connect academically-minded learners with higher education opportunities.


We run two separate streams of support.


Stream 1 is family-based. We identify and vet families who are raising orphans. If selected, we support all children in the family, both biological and orphaned. We believe that strong families are the foundation of a healthy nation.


Stream 2 is based purely on the merit and ambition of any orphan applying to our program. If selected, we support that single orphan.

We’ve currently identified 11 families caring for 34 children, with 21 orphans and 13 biological children. We’ve welcomed another 20 young people into our community that do not live with a family, but have great potential.


Our Staff

Neil Holzapfel and Lesego Serolong

Founders and Directors

Neil and Lesego founded Raise the Children in 2008. Lesego, being a South African orphan herself, has always had a deep desire to give back to the community that raised her and to mentor and empower the many that share her story. Neil and Lesego live in Pretoria and have two energetic boys, Ben who’s 3 and Joel who’s 1!


Elise White

Program Manager

Elise White was a teacher fellow with Raise the Children International in 2015 at Jabulane Christian Academy in Hammanskraal and is now the Program Director. She calls southwest Virginia home and received a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and African American Studies at the University of Virginia. After watching her mother, who has over three decades of experience as an educator, labor in the field with the aim of authentically supporting and developing children in a holistic way, she was inspired to do the same in South Africa. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, and unashamedly laughing out loud. Feel free to contact her about her experiences in South Africa as a teacher fellow!


Nonhlanhla Mahlobisa

Scholar Coordinator

Nonhlanhla Mahlobisa was a Teacher Fellow with Raise the Children at Tiger Kloof Educational Institution in 2017 and is now the Scholar Coordinator. She hails from the township of Soweto in the Gauteng Province, South Africa and loves music, dancing, reading and spending time with her family. She holds a B.A. in English Language and Linguistic as well as Psychology. She is passionate about children and always available for questions and encouragement!

The orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) crisis

According to the Children’s Institute of South Africa, 23% of South Africa’s children live without either parent, nearly 4 million children.  Vulnerable children are included in our network because it is very easy for adults to physically, sexually, or commercially exploit children that do not have one or both parents to provide for them and protect them.

Why so many orphans?

1. 17-18% of the adult population is HIV positive.
2. More than 30% of the women who give birth are HIV positive.
3. Migratory working patterns also contribute to the orphan crisis.

Education is failing South Africa’s children

1. There are approximately 1.1 million 18-year-olds in South Africa today.
2. More than 50% of them drop out of school.
3. Only 1/3 of them graduate from high school.
4. Only 11% of them do well enough to qualify for a bachelor’s degree.