It’s amazing how a sad & traumatic event can be a catalyst for change, to highlight the plight of others and give us a sense of purpose.
After Willem left us so suddenly, his maatjies* discovered his charity project at the Children’s Memorial Institute (CMI), which involved fixing up the park -used by many children – most of whom have autism or other special needs.

“The Children’s Memorial Institute is an entity comprising of about 30 separate Organizations, mostly NGOs, providing services to Children with Special Needs (medical, educational, psychosocial or legal)”

Some of the NGOs installed at the CMI include Autism South Africa, Ernie Els Centre, Johannesburg School for Autism & Children’s disABILITY Training Centre.

Willem’s aforementioned maatjies, on seeing what Willem started at the CMI, got bees buzzing in proverbial bonnets and  started a fundraising event that will occur every year to raise funds for various CMI projects.

After attending this year’s bowling day fundraiser, my advice to all would be to fortify yourself with the yummy braai lunch on offer before heading down to the bowling green – it helps one concentrate better, especially if you have never picked up a bowling ball in your life…
The event raised just over R26 000! Well done to everyone involved.

A committee is being formed based on the park at the Children’s Memorial Institute, now known as the Willem Coetzee Memorial Park with their mandate being to manage fundraising for Willem’s legacy.
Jozi 4 Autism will be partnering with the committee to raise funds and to help where ever else we can. In addition to this, we have donated some ZAR in the amount of R5,000.00 to get the ball rolling (pun intended).


There are many future projects which need to be fleshed out, but for now we are focusing on the most urgent task at hand, i.e. further developing the park at the CMI:

    • Installing trampolines with fences for safety (currently there are holes in the ground where the trampolines should be)
    • Adding more items of sensory value in the playground (under the guidance of a sensory-integration-trained occupational therapist)

If you would like to get involved, either by donating ZAR, time or expertise – please contact myself, Karen Gouvelis @ kareng@jozi4autism.org.za or Helen Hadfield @ helen@mind-the-gap.co.za.

* South African word for close friend.
Synonyms: tjommie, china, bestie, BFF, boet

Karen Gouvelis
Jozi 4 Autism


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