About Us

SHAWCO was started in July 1943 by Andrew Kinnear, a UCT medical student, who spent the vacation driving an ambulance to earn money to pay for his medical training. He was appalled by the poverty, lack of hygiene and lack of medical facilities in areas like Kensington and Elsies River, and became determined to do something about it. Andrew Kinnear asked Dr Golda Selzer of the Pathology Department at Groote Schuur Hospital to assist him in establishing a clinic. Dr Selzer became one of the co-founders of SHAWCO and remained SHAWCO honorary life president until her death in 1999.


In 2001, Mrs Graca Machel agreed to become SHAWCO’s new life president.


What started off as a one-man initiative quickly grew into one of the country’s largest student volunteer organisations which ran health and welfare projects throughout South Africa’s Apartheid era. In 1994, with the inauguration of our first democratically elected President, SHAWCO moved from welfare to a development model – still running primary health care clinics, but moving to skills development and education programmes through the “welfare” arm. In 2003, this move was further consolidated by the narrowing of the developmental sector to Youth Education.


Currently, SHAWCO is divided into two main service sectors: SHAWCO Education and SHAWCO Health.



SHAWCO wishes to acknowledge, with thanks, the following donors for their kind support: