VOC in association with Muslim Hands and Makro put warmth into the hearts and lives of the learners at Stephen Road Primary School in Lotus River on Wednesday, as part of the VOC Winter Drive. The campaign was spurred by VOC producer Quanita Kamaar after the 2015 VOC Stationery Drive, when she discovered that the children at the impoverished school were in dire need of stationery to assist their learning in the classroom. She found that there was a need to provide these children with proper school wear to shield them from the harsh wet winter conditions.
“It’s uncomfortable for someone to travel to school in rainy and cold weather particularly if they are not dressed properly. We want to give them jackets and boots to keep the wet weather at bay while they move about,” says Kamaar.
Jackets and food were donated to the school and distributed amongst all the learners by humanitarian organization Muslim Hands.
“The Winter Campaign consists of many aspects including the Blanket Drive and today we are sponsoring the jackets just to protect children from the rain as winter gets very wet,” said Muslim Hands SA manager Imran Roomanie.
Makro sweetened the learner’s day by distributing snacks that included chips and sweets as well as winter boots.
“Our role was part of the Adopt a School campaign to assist in providing for impoverished schools. I approached VOC who approached Muslim Hands. We hope traveling to school will be easier for them with the Wellingtons we have sponsored,” says Makro marketing manager Munier Solomons.
For the learners, days such as these are magical and give them a glimpse of hope in the crime and gang ridden area.
Layla (12), who lives in Lotus River, a pupil at Stephen Road Primary, restrains herself from playing outside in her road. However, school is a safe haven to do so.
“I’m so scared I don’t want to step outside of my house. I never go pass the door. There is just too many gangsters, people selling drugs on every corner and there is a car driving around picking up children. Recently, a boy was shot in this road. At school I see my friends and we play in a building with fencing so it’s safe,” says Layla.
Pupils often arrive to the school with an assortment of winter wear and they are instructed to remove it by educators, leaving them exposed to harsh cold and wet winter conditions. For most of them who travel to school either by foot or public transport, they suffer immense discomfort with wet clothing upon arrival.
“I travel by taxi to school and I have to walk and wait outside for the taxi. My clothes get drenched in the rainy weather and I freeze in the windy weather,” says Lily Beukus.
“The weather is very wet and a jacket will help to protect me from rainy weather. We are so grateful to VOC….first the Stationery Drive, now this. The stationery helped a lot. It saved my parents a lot of money,” says Michelle Billings.
“I will be so grateful to get a jacket and boots. It will change some of the learner’s lives as they never had anything and they got very cold. The children who live on the farm have to walk through water to get to school, they don’t have jackets and it’s cold. They come to school with the wrong jacket and the teacher tells them to take it off and they have to go through the entire day without a jacket. It’s sad. The previous Stationery Drive equipped them with the things they needed to make learning and doing homework easier for them. They really had nothing,” says Tharwa Thompson.
“The children cannot think properly because they are not dressed properly. They get cold when they are told to take their jackets off by the teachers. Their hands turn blue sometimes and they shiver,” says Latonya Jafta. VOC