Unity Service Agency
Lydenburgh, Mpumalanga, South Africa and New Russia, New York

1) Unity Service Agency is a not-for-profit organization registered in New Russia, New York in 2000. Dare Van Vree, founder and Executive Director, resides in upstate NY and, also in Lydenburgh, Mpumalanga, South Africa. Target groups include: members of the Mpumalanga community who seek training in arts, crafts, computers and other projects that will lead to self-employment; former "children of the street" who continue to require care & support; and individuals who are independently employed but seek assistance in the expansion of their businesses.

2) Executive Director Dare Van Vree is a former Peace Corps volunteer who was assigned to a rural area in the Northern Province of South Africa in 1999. After leaving the Peace Corps, she returned to that area to continue helping the members of the community and also members of a neighboring rural area in the province of Mpumalanga. Projects she has implemented include:

  • providing drinking water for the 1,500 elementary students of Kabishi School. They had been without water since the inception of the school in 1993. After she brought this lack to the attention of a local Indian businessman whose profits derive from the black community, he donated money to drive a well on the school grounds and provide a non-electric pump.
  • organizing to care for seven "street boys" who were either ignored or abused by members of the community. Until they were placed in a newly formed shelter, Unity Service Agency fed them, clothed them and became their mentor. It then provided the boys with school uniforms, shoes, clothes and bought food and fuel until the government was able to do so.
  • instituting proceedings to help the Ga-Manoke Peer Education Womens' Project receive chickens through the International Heifer Project. These tribal women volunteers manage the boys' shelter and also distribute information throughout the communities regarding the prevention of the spread of AIDS, STD, cholera, et al.
  • providing encouragement for eight gifted teen-aged boys in the Mashesheng Township: the captain of his school soccer team, the trophy-winning member of his school track team, the star-member of his school drama club, the artist who makes saleable objects from wire, etc. Unity Service Agency has assured school principals and coaches that these students will be financially able to attend the events in which they are expected to participate, will have the proper personal equipment and the encouragement to develop their talents. The expectation is that each student has the potential of a Nelson Mandela or Booker T. Washington or Jim Thorpe or Marion Anderson.
  • shipping over 1,500 pounds of donated clothes from America to South Africa. The proceeds from the sale of these clothes (after expenses) benefit projects of the community and also provide families with good quality clothing at nominal costs.

3) Unity Service Agency has in-kind support from:

  • the local agency of the Labor Department. Low-rental space is available at the "Production Market" for the sale of the donated clothes and for a work-area for selected children to meet after school hours. They rent equipment to wash cars (pails and soap), shine shoes (polish and rags), work for tips and make boxed African games that will be sold to tourists.
  • the chief of the village of Mashafane, Khoshi Malapane who bestowed his surname on Dare Van Vree in acknowledgment of her contributions. She has been given the honorary first name of Hunadi. In South Africa, she is, therefore, known as Hunadi Malapane.

    4) The Unity Service Agency, located approximately five hours drive from Johannesburg, has access to the internet, has a cellular phone capable of receiving calls from the USA in a matter of minutes, has a car available for any required transporting and has African colleagues in major cities as well as in the rural areas previously mentioned.

    5) Unity Service Agency works with the government sponsored training programs that are offered to adult South African men and women. The Director, Maria van de Linde, recently arranged schooling in a remote district for eighty-four adults in the fields of bead making, pottery making, leather work, fabric painting, basket weaving, etc. Now, we are in the process of obtaining rental property on the main street in the tourist town of Lydenburgh in order to provide an outlet for the products that will be created by the graduates of these programs.

    6) During the autumn of 2000, Dare Van Vree, representing Unity Service Agency, was an invited speaker at various clubs and organizations in the Adirondack region of New York State. She described conditions & attitudes in post-apartheid South Africa, and outlined the projects Unity Service Agency intends to accomplish upon her return to Africa. As a result of these speaking engagements, Unity Service Agency received voluntary financial contributions from the Kiwanis, Rotary Club, numerous churches, the minimum security prison at Altoona, student groups at Plattsburg State College and Cadyville High School, numerous senior citizen groups, womens' social clubs and a multitude of friends and individuals who just wanted to share in making a difference.
    Unity Service Agency also receives financial support by buying African arts and crafts directly from the artists and craftsmen and selling these items (at no more than three times mark-up) at her summer shop in Essex, New York, and other shops and craft shows.

    7) Unity Service Agency is interested in becoming a Virtual Foundation Consortium Member because of its locally based activities in South Africa. Unity Service Agency is interested in developing the Virtual Foundation opportunity to assist NGOs in the Mpumalanga region, and in establishing further connections with like-minded people.

    NEWS ARTICLE From the Lydenburg Nuus Woensdag 16 Mai 2001

    American Entrepreneur Participates in Beehive Production Market

    Dare Van Vree, a seventy year old woman from upstate New York, USA, is selling donated pre-worn clothes from America at stall #14 at the Beehive Production Market on Kerk Street in Lydenburg. The proceeds from the sale of these clothes will benefit the street children, womens' projects, village and township schools and the communities.

    She came to South Africa in 1999 as a volunteer with the American government to develop community projects in the Burgersfort area. She lived with a family in Riba Cross village and assisted at four of the schools. One of her projects involved drilling a borehole and installing a pump at school with not one drop of water but with over a thousand students. She came to Lydenburg in January of this year (2001) as a volunteer with a private organization (Unity Service Agency). Since she does not receive a salary nor any compensation for travel, food or rent, she buys quality crafts from South African artists and takes them to America where they are sold in her shop and at other markets throughout northeast America.

    Clothes from America have been donated by churches, community organizations, schools, neighbors and friends. When Van Vree was in America last year, she collected, sorted, packed and shipped over a thousand kg of quality apparel for men, women and children. She invites you to come to the Beehive not only for these reasonably priced items, but also for shoe repair, TV and radio repair, computer classes, alterations, custom tailoring, hand knit quality sweaters, made-to-order dresses, tribal beadwork, handmade Sotho dolls, wrought iron, paintings and other quality crafts.

    Ven Vree began her entrepreneurial career with a degree in Management Engineering/Civil Engineering from the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State. She was the first woman to graduate in that department. Her father was a professor at the college and her two sons are engineers from the University of Virginia. Her first job was at North American Aviation in California as a mathematician working on guided missiles. Since then she has lived in Korea and Alaska as well as other states in the USA. Her travels have taken her across the Asian continent, North Africa and Europe.

    In 1970, she turned a 1790's "stage coach stop" in Charlestown, New Hampshire into a restaurant seating over two hundred guests. This restaurant created jobs for over eighteen people and was selected by a national magazine as the best restaurant in that state. She sold the business in 1978 and is proud to declare that the restaurant is still operating and has over twenty employees. For the past twenty years, she owned and operated an antiques business. Sales were made in the summer from her shop in Essex, NY and at internationally known antique shows in the winter. Invitations were extended to her to exhibit at shows in Boston, Washington, Atlanta and other states along the eastern seaboard where she displayed and sold her collections of continental porcelains.


    [The Beehive] production market has been developed, among others, by Maria van de Linde for the advancement of the new South Africa through education of individuals to become self-supporting. Everyone is invited to attend the many training courses that are offered and to view the products that have been created as a result of this training.


    Contact Information
    Dare Van Vree
    PO Box 40
    New Russia, New York 12964 USA

    Hunadi Malapane
    PO Box 4808
    Lydenburgh 1120 Mpumalanga, South Africa

    E-mail: darevanvree@eudoramail.com