Meet the Team
Matseliso, more commonly known as Tseli, is a co-founder of RCF. She was born in Mohale’s Hoek district in Lesotho and is the eldest of her four siblings. She married Rory Downard in 2010 and in 2016 she gave birth to their first child, Joshua Neo. Tseli is passionate about working with children and youth as well as community development. She has been actively involved with both local and international mission trips. In 2003, she was a part of an outreach mission trip to Limpopo, South Africa organised by Operation Up Lesotho. It was there where Tseli met Dr. Wayne Herman, the former Chief Academic Dean of Cornerstone Institute, and a few students from the institute who were doing their ministry work with St. Mark's Church in Limpopo. In 2004 she found her way to Cape Town, South Africa to study at Cornerstone Institute by faith and trusting God to take care of her. Tseli’s motivation and desire to study came when her father passed away in 2002, leaving her family in a hopeless and destitute situation, as he was the only source of income for her family. Her two siblings gave up on their education due to a feeling of helplessness regarding their future, but Tseli knew that education was her only hope to help her break the cycle of poverty.
Cornerstone provided Tseli with a bursary for her tuition fees as well as a working bursary to clean classrooms to pay for her residence fees. Dr. Herman also helped Tseli get a second job as a domestic worker to cover her living costs. It was during these challenging times and humbling experiences where the concept of Rutanang, Learning From One Another, was born.
After completing her Bachelor of Theology in Community Leadership with a major in Psychology, Tseli has continued with her postgraduate studies in Social Behaviour Studies in HIV/AIDS. Her masters’ research looks at Survival Strategies of Youth Headed-Households Affected by HIV/AIDS in Nkhu-Nk’hu village in Mohales’ Hoek Lesotho. She has held various working positions in youth development, career guidance counselling, family upliftment, discipleship and mentoring in Cape Town. Tseli feels blessed that she is able to give back to her own people who face many challenges such as poverty, unemployment and HIV/AIDS.
Rory Downard is a co-founder of Rutanang Community Foundation (RCF). He was born and raised in Cape Town by his parents alongside his older sibling. He grew up in a loving and caring Christian home. From his childhood, he always had a desire to work with African children even though he did not yet know where this desire would take him. He visited Lesotho for the first time in 2005 through an outreach with African Inland Mission (AIM) and Valley Church in Hout Bay. In this trip to Lesotho he and his fellow missionaries worked alongside Scripture Union Lesotho. It was during this time that Rory felt his calling to work with the Basotho people. Helping the Basotho children was his particular passion as Rory has been involved with the Children’s Mnistry in the past.
Rory holds a Bachelor of Theology, Diploma in Sports management, Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) and Shipping Practice. He feels blessed to be called to be God’s vessel to demonstrate God’s love to people of Lesotho.
Rory has a heart to help people to discover who they are in Christ. He finds joy in seeing people improve their lives and succeed in life as he encourages them by passing on his knowledge to them. It is Rory’s desire that the knowledge and skills which he passed onto others will in turn be passed on by those he taught.
Rory and Tseli met in 2005 and got married in 2010. They believe that their marriage is a testimony in how God brings people from different cultures and backgrounds together to enable them to fulfill their individual callings. Their individual gifts and talents complement each other and they are used effectively for God’s Kingdom.
Dawn Marais is also a co-founder of RCF. Dawn is passionate about helping children strive to reach their potential, no matter their background or circumstances. She has worked with children all her life in a variety of formats, such as youth group leader, bible clubs at schools, Scripture Union Camp Director and as a support group leader. She is a qualified Occupational Therapist and also works as children’s counsellor, concentrating mainly on Play Therapy. She is also a Brownie Guider of long standing. She has home educated her three daughters through their school leaving certificates and all have done exceptionally well in their tertiary education. Her gentle nature sometimes seems to conceal her wealth of experience and leadership skills, but do not be fooled.
Underpinning everything Dawn does is her relationship with God. She has been a Christian since she was a child and considers this to be part of her privileged background despite material possessions being in short supply.
Her greatest joy and passion in life is being a wife to her husband, Alan, and mom to her three girls. She lives in Cape Town and has many hobbies including weaving, spinning, knitting, gardening, hiking, bird watching, camping and baking.
We would like to recognize the organizations that have worked with RCF over the years whether it be by sending volunteers to partner with us or via donations and support. We cannot thank you enough for your support as we turn RCF into a fundamental organization in Lesotho.
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Muizenberg
Valley Church, Hout Bay
Gleemor Baptist Church
Mossel Bay Bible Baptist Church
Chaeli Campaign in Cape Town
Thakaneng Youth Resource Center - Mohale's Hoek
U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers
Ministry of Health - Mohale's Hoek