With winter knocking on the door, everyone is doing what they can to keep warm-and in many township households, this means using paraffin heaters which can be unsafe if not used properly.
In a bid to prevent tragedies this winter, Engen KlevaKidz, a national campaign that educates rural and township communities about the safe handling and storage of paraffin, has embarked on a safe drive to inform the pupils about the safety use of paraffin.
On Tuesday May 15, the campaign-which will run throughout May-dropped in at KwaFaku Primary School in Lower Crossroads to advise them about the use of paraffin. Taking the form of an interactive educational stage drama, the campaign uses engaging characters to relay key safety messages in the pupils mother tongues including Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa and English, combined with jingles to reinforce the theme.
In 2017, in partnership with the Communication Firm, the campaign visited 112 schools in four regions, reaching out to and educating 53 714 pupils.
Since its inception in 2008, Engen KlevaKidz has reached more than 198 714 pupils in 548 schools across South Africa – from rural villages deep in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape to townships in Gauteng, the Western Cape and Free State .
Engen representative Thando Matanhire said with winter looming, they felt it was important to embark on this initiative, which was started because they wanted to educate children about the dangers of paraffin and how to use it safely.
Mr Matanhire said they understand that many of the shack fires that occur in the townships were caused by negligent use of paraffin, and through this campaign they hoped that could change. Mr Matanhire appealed to parents to always be cautious when dealing with paraffin.
He told pupils that it was important that they wash their hands after contact with paraffin, and explained how to store it safely. “Without supervision, and uninformed of the multiple dangers associated with using paraffin, children between the ages of 7 and 13 are often vulnerable, and it is these children who are the focus of Engen KlevaKidz. “This campaign has proven to be a powerful medium to stimulate children’s imagination. We want to have better informed children. We believe that the pupils are all heroes who have the inner strength and ability to take care of themselves,” he said. School deputy principal, Nombulelo Mathe, said this was the first time the school had participated in this important programme and hoped that it wouldn’t be the last.
Grade 5 pupil Sihle Khomanisi said she would convey what she had learned, to her parents and friends.