Tich Smith was born in 1951 and grew up in a white middle class home in Johannesburg and educated at St Stithian’s College and King Edward VII High School. He went to university in Pietermaritzburg. Smith was a talented sportsman. He played rugby for Natal at the age of 19 and cricket for Natal and South Africa. His sporting career came to an end in 1984 when he announced his retirement from cricket. In 1991 he met and married Joan, together they founded LIV.
Tich Smith was a visionary who resurrected the spirit of Ubuntu in KwaZulu-Natal. Smith’s crusade to see a thousand villages built for vulnerable children was sparked by a vision he had in 1997. It took more than 13 years before his dream became a reality. He and his wife Joan, became benefactors in the region with a feeding scheme and education programme in Amaoti, the largest informal settlement in KZN.
Lungisisa Indlela (“the right way”), is a Section 21 company established to facilitate this work. It has paid for the feeding of 2 000 children, 30 crèches and paid for the schooling of 600 orphans. In January 2009, Tich Smith passed this initiative on to the local staff in Amaoti, as he began the work of building his village for orphans and vulnerable children. He set up Lungisisa Indlela Village (LIV), on the outskirts of Verulam.
“My vision is to have a thousand villages to take care of every orphan and vulnerable child in South Africa. We believe these thousand villages can change the world. If we are known as a province and as a country that looks after vulnerable children, the heartbeat of the nation will change. The perception of South Africa in the eyes of the global community will also be altered.”
LIV endorses the philosophy to keep existing expertise in businesses in order to mentor young apprentices from the village. LIV partners with government, business and the church in providing holistic residential care on a large scale for thousands of children.
Tich worked for Sanlam from 1987–1992. In 1992 he started Tich Smith & Associates, and TSA Administration (Pty) Ltd in 1997. His son, Greg, joined him in the business in 2001 and now runs the business.
His wife, Joan, continues to work tirelessly at the Lungisisa Indlela Village.