‘If not us, then who?’

CityPress - - News -

“These chil­dren have no one to look after them and we have taken it upon our­selves to reach out to them,” says Nomx­olisi Makayi, a ma­tric teacher at Bule­lani Se­nior Sec­ondary School in Queenstown in the East­ern Cape.

Makayi runs a project, funded by teach­ers’ union Sadtu, which looks after des­ti­tute chil­dren at Nkos’enom­ntu Mot­man Com­pre­hen­sive School in Whit­tle­sea.

“Some of their par­ents died, while oth­ers went to Cape Town and Bloem­fontein for work. We buy clothes, uni­forms, food and san­i­tary tow­els for girls,” she says.

“They are vul­ner­a­ble, and teenage preg­nan­cies re­sult be­cause these girls tend to find the warmth they seek in such re­la­tion­ships. Some of them ‘bay­ath­walwa’ [are ab­ducted and forced into mar­riages].”

Makayi says branches in each of the six Sadtu re­gions in the East­ern Cape were in­structed to iden­tify a school where they could as­sist needy pupils.

“The school feed­ing scheme as­sists in pro­vid­ing food for these chil­dren, but there are in­stances where teach­ers have to dig deep in their pock­ets to pro­vide pupils with some­thing to eat in the morn­ing, such as fruit, while wait­ing for lunchtime,” she says.

“We have this project be­cause some of the donors only fo­cus on ar­eas close to towns. Al­though this is a far-flung area, most of these chil­dren are in­ter­ested in ed­u­ca­tion, but they face these chal­lenges.

“We have had to step in, but we need donors to come on board.”

Makayi says al­though teach­ers do not live with these chil­dren, they pro­vide sup­port where it is needed.

“Social ills are rife and if we do not take note of that, we will have a lost gen­er­a­tion,” she says.

PROVIDER East­ern Cape teacher Nomx­olisi Makayi

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