Pretoria – The word ‘ubuntu’ has taken a whole new meaning for Lean Mphathe.
The unemployed single mother of two will have something to cook for her children this evening and weeks to come. Mphathe was one of the 10 parents identified by Orefile Primary School in Olivenhoutbosch to get food parcels and new school uniforms for their children.
The initiative is in partnership with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), known as the Hawks.
“Things have been difficult for me and the children with me not working. I really appreciate the thought and effort. I did not have the means to buy school uniforms and had no food to cook at home,” a frail looking Mphathe told SAnews.
The food parcels come packed with essentials such as maize meal, rice, jam, peanut butter, instant porridge, baked beans, canned meat, cooking oil, milk and toiletries.
The children were given new winter and summer uniform by Hawks head Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza. School principal Clever Shikwambane said the donation will go a long way to helping the learners and their communities.
“We are proud that people are still [honouring Mandela]. It’s an honour to have everybody celebrating this day.”
Most learners at the school, situated in Extension 19, come from underprivileged families.
“Most of the parents are from rural areas, who came here for work opportunities. The area has a lot of challenges. Most of the parents are unemployed and depend on government and private sponsors,” said Shikwambane.
Orefile is one of the schools built as part of national government’s Strategic Integrated Projects programme. It became the first green school in Gauteng when it opened its doors in 2013. The school has just over 1 000 learners and 26 teachers.
However, the school has had its share of challenges like regular burglaries.
“In December 2015, they burgled our computer room and they stole all the computers which were donated. Again in January, we had another burglary and they took laptops from the strong room. It discourages us because we work hard to get sponsors and new technologies for our children but unfortunately all those things have disappeared,” Shikwambane said.
Other schools in the area have also suffered the same fate. General Ntlemeza told SAnews that he will attend to the issue of burglaries at the school.
“We will attend to the challenges… There must be that interaction between the police and the school. We already have the Adopt a School campaign. I will just activate it by taking the message to the acting national commissioner to make sure that police are in the school vicinity so that kids can feel safe.
“This day means a lot to me. I got to learn of the challenges that the school faces directly from the principal,” said Ntlemeza.
While addressing learners, Ntlemeza encouraged them to dream big so they can be whatever they want to be in life. He also called on learners to stay away from drugs and alcohol, and encouraged them to report abuse of any form.
“The Hawks have the responsibility to protect the people of this country against any social ills,” he said.
He urged parents to work with the police and schools to ensure a better future for the children.