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Kearsney College supports Nyuswa Primary School through lockdown

| November 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

BY SUE MILES

During 2017, a group of Kearsney College boys formed a connection with Nyuswa Primary School, deep in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, when they worked for several days at the school as part of their efforts towards fulfilling the requirements of the self-development Pilgrim Award.

As the COVID-19 lockdown loomed – and with it, the realisation that the school’s 212 children would no longer receive their daily meal at school – a Kearsney prefect initiative was hastily launched to provide food hampers to assist Nyuswa Primary families.

Kearsney head prefect, Aaron Smith, and his deputy, Qiniso Xulu, mobilised their fellow prefects. Together, they appealed to the Kearsney community and local businesses for food, clothing and donations; organised collection and drop-off points; and packed one ton of collected food items and staples such as mielie meal, cereal, flour, long-life milk, instant soup, tinned foods, eggs and soap.

These were delivered to Nyuswa’s 190 families, with each family receiving over five kilograms of food, virtual grocery vouchers, warm clothing for children, blankets, books and worksheets, face masks and a note from the boys involved. ‘Originally, we were aiming to feed the 74 families who relied solely on the government’s social grants, but we realised it wasn’t reasonable to be so selective and to neglect others, especially as the shutdown would mean a loss of income to additional families, and none of the children would be receiving their daily meal at school,’ says Smith.

‘So, we changed our goal to ensure 190 food hampers were produced, to feed all the families with children at Nyuswa.’

Generous community donations helped

Much of the food was bought with the generous donations from people in the community, eggs and mielie meal were donated or provided at highly reduced prices, and a local supermarket franchise supplied the bags as the boys committed to buying food through them.

The Kearsney team members were moved when Nyuswa Primary School principal, Sandile Zondi, informed them that their initiative had meant his school was the only one in the community which had fed its children during lockdown.

When it was evident that Nyuswa’s learners would miss many days in the classroom, the Kearsney prefect team decided the hampers should include grade-appropriate worksheets, books and book reviews, as well as mathematics worksheets for the children to do. The boys promised a reward to those who completed the tasks set, and the best ones will receive a prize post-lockdown.

Abiding respect and support

Kearsney College has an extensive community service programme, which affords boys the opportunity to serve and contribute to the community in a variety of ways. This includes the Pilgrim Award, undertaken during Grade 9, and the President’s Award, during Grade 11.

Smith’s association with Nyuswa Primary started in 2017, when he was in Grade 9 and fulfilling the requirements towards his Pilgrim Award. Initially connecting through the local Kloof branch of Lions Club International, his involvement with the school has continued since then.

Over the years, he has also involved some of his Kearsney peers, and together they have assisted Nyuswa by teaching English and mathematics to Grade 5, 6 and 7 students, as well as coaching cricket, rugby and soccer during holidays; establishing a vegetable garden; planting indigenous trees around the school; undertaking basic maintenance; and sourcing donated books to set up a library for the school.

Two years ago, when Nyuswa celebrated its 80th anniversary, the group commissioned a street artist to paint an enormous mural of an owl near the entrance to the school, to commemorate the milestone.

Last year, Smith and Xulu were thrilled to be invited as guests of honour to Nyuswa’s annual prize giving, where Xulu gave an inspiring speech to the learners.

Category: Spring 2020

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