In 1998 Isabelle De Smul-Brink came to Plettenberg Bay as a development worker for a Belgian NGO that initiated a number of projects in the area. As a licentiate in physical education, specializing in psychomotor therapy for behaviorally disturbed and underdeveloped children, it was her task to organise extra-curricular activities for children from the townships. She immediately sensed that consistent, ongoing support was necessary if these children were to have any chance for the future.
After a few months of intensive networking and research, Isabelle contacted her father Georges De Smul to help her establish an NGO in South Africa. Without delay, Georges contacted Lieve and Remi De Backer, as well as other friends, to invite them to his daughter’s wedding - an excellent opportunity to become acquainted with the local situation. Their joint efforts led to the startup of Born in Africa.
In 2003 Born in Africa was officially established in Belgium and in South Africa. Within two months, 40 godparents sponsored 40 children. At the end of the first year, more than 100 godparents supported the program.
To date, Born in Africa has grown to become a well received and respected professional organization with the focus on education and social upliftment. Currently, there are over 400 children in the BIA program.
There are 5 branches of Born in Africa: the operational branch in South-Africa, and 4 fundraising and supporting branches in Belgium (started together with the South African branch in 2003), the Netherlands, in Norway (started in 2012) and in the United Kingdom (founded in 2016).
Born in Africa South-Africa is a registered NPO and fully independent from Born in Africa Belgium, Norway and Netherlands. All organizations have different accounting systems and Boards. All branches communicate extensively and take decisions on a consulting basis. The teams are reinforced with the aid and involvement of supporters and volunteers.