‘If not us, then who?’
“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