Garth Japhet

Ashoka Fellow
South Africa,
Fellow Since 2003

Citation

This profile was prepared when Garth Japhet was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Garth is using mass media as a means of education, advocacy and the promotion of public health in South Africa. His first public health media organization, Soul City, has been incredibly successful, due primarily to its television and radio serial drama, which has been aired in thirty-eight countries. After witnessing the success of his pilot project, Garth expanded his idea to youths through the Soul Buddyz series, which has a viewership that reaches millions of children in South Africa. To date, countless people across Africa have taken part in Soul City’s training programs and participated with their community organizations promoting healthy living. In 1996, Garth decided to build on the Soul City methodology, and expand his work beyond the scope of public health and development. Through his new media-based intervention, Heartlines, he drew upon his belief that South African society needed to sustain a national conversation around values. By focusing attention to this area, Garth believed he could promote integrity in such a way that had lasting, multifaceted effects on the fabric of society. For example, the factors that drive an individual’s dishonesty influence their relationships and how they interact with the world. By influencing personal behaviors in a positive way, Garth aimed to help quell the ongoing spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as that of crime and corruption and other major social issues.
After the first phase of Heartlines promoted a national conversation on values, the important question for Garth became, “How do you do you move beyond a dialogue on values to helping people act on these values?” This challenge led him to develop the “forgood” program to inspire and support thousands of ordinary South Africans to take positive action in meaningful ways, from caring for the sick, to paying their taxes, to being trustworthy in their relationships. This movement forgood is working to create a social “tipping point” that will have a profound effect on the major social issues facing South African society, including but not limited to, crime, corruption, HIV/AIDS, and family cohesion.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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