There were smiles on the faces of 124 pupils at Vuselela Primary School, in Site C, Khayelitsha, when they received school bags from the Kusasalethu Foundation, on Thursday June 23.
Last year the foundation donated 126 school uniforms to the school and now they aim to branch out to other schools and donate more school bags. The foundation’s director, Zolisa Boza, said they had wanted to raise enough funds to buy 500 school bags, but had only managed to acquire 360.
Mr Boza said most of the pupils at the school came from impoverished families where parents were not employed and were solely dependent on social grants or piecemeal jobs.
Some pupils are raised by grandparents and relatives, while other pupils head their homes, he said. Mr Boza said when a child’s basic school needs are not met, their learning is affected.
Talking about the origins of the organisation, Mr Boza said: “The foundation was formed by three young Khayelitsha men who aimed to encourage the youth of Khayelitsha to use education as a tool to change their lives. One of the founders of the foundation, Khaya Qekane, was a pupil here at Vuselela Primary School, so he knows the challenges of the pupils first-hand.
“It was heartbreaking to see pupils using plastic bags to carry their books, while their peers made fun of them – and that had demoralised their confidence, resulting in them bunking school or having their performance levels dropping,” he said.
Mr Boza said the core mission of the foundation was to bridge the gap between the haves and the have nots and added that they wanted to support the pupils and assist them to overcome adversity and encourage them not to quit school,
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to be a beacon of hope to the youth of Khayelitsha and encourage them to pursue their dreams despite hardships.
He explained that they were appealing to other young people who had made it in life to plough back to Khayelitsha and transform it into a better society for the future generation.
Vuselela Primary’s deputy principal, Siphiwo Maxongo, said the foundation played a critical role in restoring the dignity of the pupils and at the same time encouraging them not to let adversity stop them from going to school.
He said the school was blessed with caring teachers who would go the extra mile to assist the pupils with their school needs – but their efforts were a drop in the ocean.
He also expressed his gratitude to the foundation, saying that this was a step in the right direction to uplift the lives of the youth of Khayelitsha.
“Some of the challenges that we are battling with as the school include the lack of support from some parents, and other homes are child-headed homes. Some pupils make fun of those who do not have school bags and as result we have a high rate of absenteeism. These school bags bring hope to them and the foundation shows the pupils that they care about them and their future,” he said.
Pupil Esihle Mabhohli said she was grateful to have been given the bag as her one had been falling apart.
“I thank them from the bottom of my heart and they encouraged us not to quit school in spite of the challenges we might face. I want to be a palaeontologist and when I’m working I will give back to the community to help people who are poor,” she said.