In an area where poverty is rife and unemployment is high, scores of destitute Lower Crossroads pupils were given new school shoes, by the Philippi-East Liquor Forum.
The forum hopes to improve the lives of the local community with its outreach programmes.
On Tuesday July 25, the forum donated the shoes to Vukani and KwaFaku primary school pupils.
Secretary of the forum, Neo Motinyane, said they chose the schools because of the high levels of poverty in the area.
The forum runs two programmes to help schools in the area. Through one, they donate shoes to primary schools and through the other one, they help high school pupils with learner’s licences and driving classes.
Mr Motinyane said 12 pupils were enrolled for the driving programme.
“We have been running a few programmes to empower the community where we run our businesses. As a forum we feel that it is sad for a child to go to school on an empty stomach or barefoot or without uniform. We thought with whatever little we have for now, let us pass it to our children,” he said.
Mr Motinyane also used the opportunity to lash out at the government for not using the money it got from big liquor stores to train at least one teacher per school to teach alcohol harms reduction.
“As much as people criticise shebeens and taverns for every bad thing in society, the truth is we can’t be blamed for people’s recklessness.
“There is nothing wrong with shebeens and taverns, but the problem is with those men who are irresponsible.
“Men need to be more responsible. They should stop sending children to the shebeens or to buy them cigarettes.
“Schools should assist in teaching children to say no when they are sent to buy beers and cigarettes,” he said.
Deputy chairperson of the Western Cape Liqour Traders’ Organisation, Lefa Mapilo, praised the forum for ploughing back into the community. “Our industry is so demonised. Whatever is wrong is associated with us, which is unfortunate. But I am delighted with these initiatives,” he said.
Mr Mapilo urged his members to trade responsibly and be legal. “We are parents, employers so that makes us responsible enough to not kill our nation. As liquor traders we need to take full responsibility of our businesses,” he said.
KwaFaku Welfare Committee chairperson Nolufefe Velele said: “This (donation) might look small, but you have no idea what it means to the children of this school. I am at a loss for words. They are poor but love the school. We are for them and their families,” she said.