When he returned to South Africa in 2007 after living in London for six years, Justin Foxton, 41, knew he wanted to make a difference.
Where others were pessimistic about the future, he saw only potential.
He started the Stop Crime, Say Hello media campaign that encourages citizens to play an active role in creating a safe South Africa.
But Foxton wanted to do more.
When he and his wife, Cathy, were asked to take over the running of the Baby House Umhlanga in 2010, he jumped at the opportunity, wanting to help the 2.5 million vulnerable children in this country.
The Baby House offers a safe haven for abandoned and orphaned babies, and babies given up for adoption.
Foxton and his team promote this project as an integral part of the family planning process, rather than as a “Plan B” for those who can’t conceive.
There are four Baby Houses in the city, with plans to open another two in Malvern and Hammarsdale.
Still not content with his contribution, Foxton started The Peace Agency, the umbrella organisation that facilitates all his projects.
Foxton has since started the child and youth mentorship programme, Bright Stars, a programme that assists new or expectant mothers with baby packs, known as The Cookie Jar; and The Adoption Companion, which supports those wishing to adopt.
“I am just so passionate about this country. I want to make a difference,”
Once the owner of a successful marketing company, Foxton said he has no qualms about exchanging selling brands for selling peace through his organisation.
“Peace is my passion. I still get excited when I hear about the ripple effect when someone is inspired to do good by the work we are doing.”
Foxton clearly cares about the babies at Baby House.
“I knew I didn’t want to get back into marketing. I remember the moment that set everything in motion very clearly. I was training for the Comrades Marathon in Mpumalanga, greeting everyone who crossed my path as I ran. When I greeted this elderly gentleman, he stopped dead in his tracks and looked into my eyes. A huge smile broke out on his face”.
“It came to me that if we acknowledged one another’s humanity in small moments, what a difference it would make. Crime is basically disrespect for a person and their things. That’s where this journey started,” he said.
When he married, he and his wife decided not to have children, but a year later they were caring for six babies in their Umhlanga home.
The couple have since adopted a baby girl.
The Umhlanga Baby House has since moved to a larger premises in La Lucia.
“The first nappy I changed was a 17-day-old baby at the Umhlanga Baby House. It was stinky. I thought, ‘Oh no, what have I got myself into?’” Foxton said with a laugh.
“We don’t run crisis care facilities for the sake of it, but so that every child is adopted into a loving family. These unwanted children go from zero to hero a few months after being placed into their families. They will have access to the best education and reach their full potential. That for me is miraculous”.
He is passionate about growing their youth mentorship programme, as children without a mentor “are like a ship without a rudder – directionless”.
“We will not deal with crime by putting more officers on the streets, but by dealing with the root causes,” he said.