Every once in a while, a true labour of love comes to fruition. Giving Back Childhood celebrates the magic of being a child by bringing together 50 prominent South Africans' most cherished memories. Through this collection of personal anecdotes and inspiring recipes, Giving Back Childhood aims to give hope back to children by donating proceeds to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

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For the past four years, multi-passionate food writer and author, Christine Stevens, and Louise Driver, CEO of The Children’s Hospital Trust in Cape Town have spearheaded a project that they call “a celebration of childhood memories”. 

Together with Penguin Random House South Africa, they have collected memories, stories and recipes from 50 prominent South Africans, including journalists, Max du Preez and Derek Watts, politicians, Doctor Nomafrench Mbombo and Hellen Zille, sporting heroes, Gary Player, Siya Kolisi and JP Duminy, Evita Bezuidenhout and Jan Hendrik.

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During the launch at the elegant Moór Gallery in Franschhoek — where delicate Baroque tones from the Winelands String Quartet fluttered through every room and guests enjoyed bubbly from Graham Beck — Muhajid Wiener, a young man who suffered severe burn trauma when he was six, shared his inspirational story with the guests.

An avid rugby player, his doctors told him that he would never be able to play rugby again. But with the love and care he got at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and being raised by a mother who does not believe in the impossible, he has not only survived but triumphed — and now plays under-15 rugby for Western Province. Perhaps one day, Muhajid will contribute to the follow-up edition of Giving Back Childhood.

Jan Hendrik's childhood inspiration came from the lunch boxes his mother used to pack him for school. One of his most treasured memories was when he would open his lunchbox to find two slices of her Banana, Sour Cream and Poppy Seed Bread, sandwiched together by a generous dollop of butter.

In the season of giving, Giving Back Childhood couldn’t have come at a better time — when we can reminisce about a magical time when we found inspiration in the smallest things (like discovering banana bread in our lunch boxes). 

To get your copy in time for Christmas, please visit Penguin Random House.