The Nelson Mandela Foundation, in collaboration with Europa Art, visited Michael Mkhwanazi Primary School in Tsakane, on the 18th of October 2019, to deliver school shoes to hundreds of excited children.
The school shoes handover ceremony was a special occasion, attended by representatives from the City of Ekurhuleni, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, media personality Pearl Thusi and actor Patrick Mofokeng. The aim of the event was to give confidence and dignity to young learners by ensuring they can walk to school more safely and not barefoot.
“Do any of you know who Nelson Mandela was?” asked the Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, as he addressed the students.
“Yes!” responded the primary school learners.
Hatang went on to tell the learners about his difficult childhood, having grown up in a single parent household. He said the plight of a lack of school shoes is very close to his heart because he knows the perpetual humiliation that comes with poverty.
“I never thought I would be here today,” he confessed, encouraging the learners to never give up.
Pearl Thusi, a role-model and a single mother, shared with the pupils the pearls of wisdom with which she raises her children. She encouraged the students to practice positive self-talk every night before going to bed, the way she does with her daughters. She said this would help boost their confidence, comfort and keep them going.
After a powerful ode dedicated to Madiba’s legacy by a student, popular TV actor Patrick Mofokeng took to the stage to add humour but also remind the children that their dreams are valid no matter their current circumstances. He urged those who have dreams of becoming actors to back it up with education.
The principal of Michael Mkhwanazi Primary School, Mr Mkhondwane, shared the sentiment and extended his gratitude to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Europa Art. He said he welcomes the visit because the presence of those who are influential and hold prominent leadership positions in society opens the children's eyes to life’s many possibilities.
There were smiles all around as the team began the process of physically placing shoes onto the feet of every child, ensuring a correct fit. 1 263 children were provided with school shoes on the day. For some children it was a relief from the indignity of not having school shoes or wearing extremely worn out ones.
The school shoes given to students by luxury footwear brand Europa Art are no ordinary footwear. According to the brand, the material is “durable, water-proof, flexible and virtually indestructible”. The shoes can even be passed on to younger siblings when they begin their school journey.
“Mandela shoes, Mandela shoes,” sang the energetic learners as they walked about admiring and parading their brand-new shoes. “Siyabonga, thank you Nelson Mandela Foundation and Europa Art," were the kind words inscribed in bright colours on the school’s notice board.
The work continues as the goal of this initiative is to provide 10 000 school shoes to learners from impoverished communities this year. This is in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Nelson Mandela International Day, restoring hope to the plight of children enduring poverty.
You can support the initiative by visiting Europa Art store and donating R90. Alternatively, when purchasing your personal footwear collection, simply add R45 to your purchase. You can also make a donation by visiting their website www.europaart.com.