Barefoot pic sparks charity avalanche

Pledges are streaming for the children of the village of Warmbad with donations even coming from domestic workers.

14 June 2019 | Local News

A barefoot pupil found crying because of the cold at a school in Warmbad, south of Karasburg, has shed light on a charity drive initiated by teachers to help address the lack of basic necessities many of the children struggle with on a daily basis, including hunger and a lack of adequate clothing.

With the region commemorating Day of the African Child this weekend, a six-year-old Windhoek pupil via her Facebook page 'Cat Adams - Acts of Kindness' has joined teachers at Michelle Durocher Primary School in Warmbad in their efforts to provide basic necessities such as food and warm clothes to needy pupils.

To date, dozens of pledges for clothing, food, stationery, toiletries and money have been made in response to the plea of Cat Adams, a frequent charity advocate, to help the 133 pupils at the school.

One of the pledges was made by a domestic worker. She wrote: “I don't have much, but a week ago I was given old clothes for boys. It's not a lot, but maybe it will be of some use.”

Teachers at the school this week said they are overjoyed with the response.

“It has snowballed. So many people have come on board who want to help. It's a wonderful response to a small idea we had,” teacher Christo Adriaanse told Namibian Sun.

The first shipment of donations of sleeping bags and food arrived from the Windhoek High School charity 'Voice of Hope' this week.



Hungry bellies

“Imagine you come to school and you are hungry. It will overwhelm you. So we wanted to see how we can help,” Adriaanse explained.

He said the idea took form after the teachers met earlier this year and identified the school's flailing academic performances as primarily the result of the difficulties many of their pupils experience daily, which impact their ability to perform at school.

“We identified a major problem, being that our children's basic needs are often not met or satisfied. It's related to a lack of clothes, basic care, not having enough to eat, happy homes. Many of the pupils, those not in the hostel, come to school hungry. Many come to school neglected.”

The boy in question, whose photo of his bare feet in the south's freezing temperatures this week shed light on the school's initiative and the serious issues pupils' experience, highlighted the problem.

“About two weeks ago, a teacher found him sitting outside the classroom. He was crying. When she asked him why, he pointed to his bare feet and said he was cold.”

The teachers banded together and were able to provide the boy with shoes and socks.

But Adriaanse underlines that the problem is widespread and the teachers are keen to address daily basic needs on a long-term basis, including providing a meal before school each morning.

“We decided if we give them a meal each morning, before class, they will concentrate better, be a little calmer, and in that way we can perhaps improve their academic performance.”

And it's a long-term initiative, he underlined.

“Our plan is not to do this as a one-off. Tomorrow they will be hungry again.”

He explained the teachers began reaching out to community members, but they were already buckling under economic pressures. Then they managed to reach out to a charity that is led by students at Windhoek High School, and “that is when things started happening”.

This week, they came to the attention of Cat Adams, the six-year-old girl who has frequently driven charity outreach programmes for children and animals.

Her mother, Celene, told Namibian Sun Cat's motivation is “purely to make a difference”. “Cat is six now and the next generation has to be better than us.”

Donations have begun to stream in, including shoes, clothing, scarves and gloves, toys, toiletries and stationery.





JANA-MARI SMITH

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