Rhodes stu­dent re­stores dig­nity with toi­letry packs

Go! & Express - - News - MADELEINE CHA­PUT

FOR­MER Stir­ling High School pupil Alirian Gib­son is help­ing many stu­dents through her Dig­nity Drive at Rhodes Univer­sity.

The psy­chol­ogy hon­ours stu­dent started the do­na­tion-run or­gan­i­sa­tion in con­junc­tion with the univer­sity’s Give 5 cam­paign.

Give 5 aims to raise funds for the Pocket Money Fund which aids stu­dents on fi­nan­cial aid who do not have enough money to buy es­sen­tials with an amount of R170 per month for 10 months of the year.

As an added aid, the Dig­nity Drive aims to give th­ese stu­dents dig­nity by col­lect­ing san­i­tary and toi­letry items as do­na­tions and putting the prod­ucts into ba­sic toi­letry packs which are then avail­able for col­lec­tion at the Alumni build­ing.

“I came across a Rhodes Con­fes­sion in which a stu­dent was ask­ing for help with re­gard to ba­sic toi­letries. It re­ally had an im­pact on me.

“We of­ten take things for granted, we don’t even no­tice the dig­nity we have.

“It broke my heart that there are in­di­vid­u­als out there who can­not af­ford to even have the most ba­sic dig­nity,” she said.

Gib­son’s project started out very small as she helped one or two in­di­vid­u­als, but it quickly grew and the need for ba­sic toi­letries be­came greater. She ex­tended the Dig­nity Drive to Face­book, in the hope of fur­ther do­na­tions from the pub­lic.

“I am pas­sion­ate about help­ing peo­ple and try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in at least one per­son’s life,” said Gib­son.

Re­ly­ing solely on do­na­tions from fel­low stu­dents and in­di­vid­u­als, the Dig­nity Drive caters for both male and fe­male stu­dents. Each pack con­tains ba­sic toi­letries, in­clud­ing soap, de­odor­ant, tooth­paste, a tooth­brush, body cream, a pack of pads for the women’s packs and a ra­zor and shav­ing cream for the men’s packs.

Over the past year, sec­ond-year law stu­dent Austin Mtole Ndyetab­ula has be­come very in­volved in the project. As head stu­dent of the Chris Hani res­i­dence, Ndyetab­ula, re­cently used one of the res­i­dence’s fundrais­ing events to raise money for the project.

In to­tal, R1500 was raised and spent on toi­letries for the drive.

“The sup­port the Dig­nity Drive has re­ceived is phe­nom­e­nal, one stu­dent even do­nated Nescafe, break­fast bis­cuits, rooi­bos tea and a whole lot of awe­some exam snacks for those in need dur­ing the last term,” said Gib­son.

Though in her fi­nal year of study at Rhodes, Gib­son is con­fi­dent that the project will carry on suc­cess­fully.

“Austin has shown a great in­ter­est in the drive and has con­trib­uted greatly to it. When I leave at the end of the year, the project will con­tinue in his ca­pa­ble hands.”

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

HELP­ING THOSE IN NEED: Dig­nity Drive founder Alirian Gib­son, left, with reg­u­lar donor and fel­low Rhodes Univer­sity stu­dent Kate Solomons, show some of the toi­letry packs that they put to­gether for needy stu­dents on fi­nan­cial aid

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