Helen Lieberman is a South African activist who has been working in the townships of Cape Town for 54 years.
Through her relationships with community leaders and her understanding of the issues facing township communities, she saw the need to create a foundation, Ikamva Labantu, to bring leaders together to better support the people they represented. Various initiatives were started, including centres for the disabled and childcare and income generation projects to better the lives of the people living in those communities.
On 19 April, Helen was awarded the highest French distinction: ‘Officier de la Légion d’Honneur’ — the National Order of the Legion of Honour. French ambassador Christophe Farnaud presented the award ‘in recognition of her lifelong commitment to the eradication of poverty, injustice and human misery’. Ambassador Farnaud also recognised the various projects that Ikamva Labantu has established over the years and commended the many men and women who have worked alongside Helen to make Ikamva Labantu what it is today, fifty of whom stood by her side at the ceremony in April.
Helen dedicated the award to the community leaders and co-founders of Ikamva Labantu with whom she has worked for just over half a century.