Media Release: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
For immediate release
21 February 2022
A thought, or rather a WhatsApp message between two women, eager to make a difference, turned into the beginning of a life-changing movement. A drive resulted in 700 pairs of school shoes being donated to fourteen (14) principals at the launch of the Walk-a-Child-to-School program on Wednesday, 9 February 2022.
On 25 February 2021, Ms Queeny Diko, Vodacom Cluster Specialist for Eden Country, contacted Ms Nomonde Makhubalo, Marketing and Sales Manager of Eden FM Radio Station (Eden FM), to share her idea of establishing a school project initiative in collaboration with Eden FM. She wanted to place empty boxes in all Vodacom stores in George where people could donate school shoes. Eden FM would participate by promoting the project and creating awareness on the community radio station. Several days later, Mr Errol Jafta from the George Museum also approached Ms Makhubalo with more or less the same idea of collecting stationery and school clothes for children.
Following a thorough deliberation and brainstorming between the various parties, and taking into consideration the expected goals and objectives of the initiative, Ms Makhubalo quickly realised, “This project has more potential than meets the eye.” she said. Her enthusiasm led her to approach the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) to join in on the life-changing movement of donating school shoes to underprivileged children.
Through this collaboration between Eden FM, GRDM, Vodacom and George Museum, the shoes are donated and aid children to walk to school in comfort. This initiative also puts smiles on each recipient’s face by restoring their HOPE, PRIDE and DIGNITY.
In March 2021, the Walk-a-Child-to-School project was ‘born’ and officially launched in April 2021. As soon as the project commenced, businesses and community members in George generously opened their hearts and donated money and shoes. Within three (3) months, almost 500 pairs of shoes were donated. This demonstrated the power of collective action and people working together,” Ms Nomonde Makhubalo said.
During the first handover ceremony attended by GRDM Councillors, business owners, principals, and learners, Mr Morne Pietersen, Station Manager of Eden FM, made the following remarks. “Children are honest and pure, and with all the horrible things happening in the world, we need to protect and nurture them because they are our most precious gifts. Working with children is wonderful, but seeing them suffer is difficult, and through this initiative, we hope to ease some of their sufferings,” Pietersen said.
Later, Queeny Diko elaborated on Vodacom’s ‘further together’ tagline. “In my opinion, our company’s tagline emphasises the importance of collaboration and partnerships among businesses, corporate companies, radio stations, and municipalities for reaching a common goal. The Walk-a-Child-to-School Project is very dear to my company because we support our communities and try to encourage and enable children to attend schools,” Diko said.
Additionally, Ms Diko presented a surprise to the learners, principals, and parents present, encouraging them to register on the Vodacom E-school platform, which will enable learners to access free, unlimited, quality online educational content from grades R to 12. She explained that only adults and legal guardians could register learners on the platform. “By registering as many learners on the E-school platform, we are running a competition for all 14 beneficiary schools here today to win two Lenovo laptops. As Vodacom Eastern Region, we say let’s go further together, and when we work together, we can achieve more,” she concluded.
Mr Errol Jafta, the representative of the George Museum, expressed his gratitude to his partner for allowing them to be involved.”Listening to all the speakers here today makes me feel sad. When I started working at the museum, I realised that our children have no idea what a museum is. My vision is to change our people’s mindset by demonstrating to them what a museum is all about by going into the community. As we serve the leaders of tomorrow, let’s be humble and use our resources to advance projects like this.”
GRDM Executive Mayor Alderman Memory Booysen opened his address with the statement, “This initiative is bigger than all of us. I can see this in the next few months, and I can see it in the next thirty years.“ Booysen referred to the MC’s introductory words, which stated that everyone needs a giant to lift them up in life. However, he said that it came to his mind that some giants are not necessarily big, but there are small giants as David of the bible, who was a small man, but who became a giant. “I want to say to the two ladies who started this initiative, sometimes giants become kings, and for a king to be a proper king, you need a queen, and this is what you are.”
He continued his speech by saying that having school shoes can determine whether a learner go all the way to grade 12. “We must not take what is happening here for granted, ladies and gentlemen; this is just the beginning. We also need to teach our children what role they can play to ensure that they look after the planet they live on.”
During the handover of the shoes, the principles present expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the valuable and much-needed donations they received. Principals agreed that shoes are symbolic of pride and give confidence to the young learners knowing that they can walk to school in comfort. Mr Mann, the principal from St.Lukes EK Primary school in Brandwacht outside Mossel Bay, thanked the sponsors and said that most parents in their area rely heavily on social grants, and these school shoes will be a great relief to learners. “We know seasons change, winter is approaching, and our children are dependent on school shoes.
The principal of the Diepkloof Primary school, Mr Bernard Schoeman, also expressed his appreciation and said that gestures like these make lives easier for children and make them feel cared for. Another principle said putting food on the table is a massive challenge for many parents and households; therefore, buying school shoes is, in many cases, impossible.
The GRDM Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu, thanked the pioneers of the wonderful project, emphasising that what started as a thought is growing into what it is becoming. He thanked the George Museum representative, reminding the audience that even among the bad news we hear daily, some men have lost their fatherhood and become monsters. However, we still have fathers taking pride in raising children. Mr Stratu thanked the principals and learners for taking time out of their busy schedules, travelling from far. He concluded that as GRDM, we are very proud of being associated with this initiative.
The schools that benefited from the first Walk-a-Child-to-School Project were: Crags Primary School, Chris Nissan Primary School, Diepkloof Primary School, Garden Route Primary School, St Konraad Primary School, Rheenendal Primary School, Slangriver Primary School, Zoar EK Primary School, St Lukes Brandwac Primary School, Tyholorha Primary School, De Rust Primary School KwaNokuthula Primary School, Amalienstein Primary School and
The Programme Director ended the event saying that what happened today is only the beginning and that he trusts that this project will explode, with more sponsors becoming involved, distributing thousands of pairs of schools in the future to children in need because there is nothing that must keep a child back to perform and be the best. Our country is alive with possibilities, and today is one of these events which put a stamp of approval that South Africa is indeed alive with possibilities – UNLESS WE EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN, WE WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO TAKE OUR COUNTRY TO THE NEXT LEVEL.