In 2016 when One Heart was founded as part of the Sustainable Development Network, the Grade 12 pass rate in South Africa was only 42%


According to the University of Pretoria, more than half of South Arica's schools lack books, libraries and infrastructure, creating a literacy crisis in the country. One Heart aims to address the high illiteracy rates and work ourselves out of our jobs by providing world-class literacy tools to all readers in the country.

We are able to reach tens of thousands of children because we keep our overheads low. With the use of home offices and partnerships with other non-profits, government agencies,  corporates, volunteers and sponsors, we are able to tap into our partners' skills and networks to reach more learners at a lower cost. In this way we are also able to have far greater impact.

Furthermore, in the communities we serve, children are exposed to a lot of trauma. In order for them to learn effectively, their emotional and psychological needs must be addressed as well. Particularly in a COVID and post COVID world. Therefore we also provide psycho-social support, counselling, play therapy,  and educational toys as needed. We also support learners by running events that promote a healthy lifestyle and build self-esteem.

Prior to COVID-19 we lead sporting events to raise money for literacy aids. During COVID-19 we pivoted to focus on literacy without events. 

Meet The Team

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Lisa Thompson Smeddle

Founder of One Heart

Founded One Heart in 2016. Originally from the USA, but since the age of four knew she wanted to live in Africa to work in development. She has been in South Africa since 1988 and founded the Sustainable Development Network in 2011 to empower NGOs, government, and the private sector through research, education, and training. She has a vision for One Heart to provide literacy for all kids in South Africa. She wants to work herself out of a job through action - and she believes this vision is possible.


Henriette Lamprecht

One Heart Administrator & Ambassador

Has been involved with One Heart since the beginning. She is passionate about children, literacy, education and health, and she has helped coordinate all events to raise funds for One Heart.  She has also acted as the administrator for SDN - One Heart's parent company - since 2011.


Edna Sym

One Heart Literacy Administrator

& Play Therapist

Assists with school selection, coordinates the distribution of  books and play therapy toys to schools and partners. Assists with teacher coordination, monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Has previously worked in a variety of different child-care facilities, schools and communities, helping traumatized, abused and neglected children to heal through counselling and play therapy and to improve literacy.


Johann Sym

Counsellor, Play Therapist & Ambassador

Has worked in a variety of different child-care facilities, schools and communities, helping traumatized, abused and neglected children to heal through counselling and play therapy to improve literacy. He has also assisted with all One Heart fundraising events.


Blantinah Qaoka

Counsellor & Play Therapist

Acts as a counsellor and play therapist and works with neglected, abused and traumatised children. Having lost her father at a young age, and having received help as a child from some of One Heart's current partners, she is happy that she can work with the same organisations that helped her, and that she can help children like herself overcome difficult circumstances in order to  thrive.


Matthew Kruger

Marketing & Ambassador

Has been a One Heart ambassador since its inception and assists with all events, marketing campaigns and branding. He helps to spread our vision and message through social media and marketing. 

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Andrew Patterson

USA Board Member

Originally from South Africa now residing in New York City and is committed to solving the literacy crisis in South Africa. 

After climbing Table Mountian every day in 2018 as a platform to fundraise for One Heart, the physical challenge ended but his passion for  literacy equality hasn't, and he is still on a mission to solve this! 


Jessie Patterson 

Board Advisor

With experience helping kids' education in the USA, Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos she is an advocate for children's literacy globally. She believes in a world where we unlock all youth's potential through the power of learning to read.