This morning we set out at 5:30am. Our hosts, UNICEF and Sportstec, arranged for our group to go on a journey to show us the route that some of the children take to get to school. What I did not expect was the journey was up and down very rough terrain. At one point we had to get out of our vehicles and walk part way because it was too treacherous. At about 6am we started to see school children making their trek up the mountain in their school uniforms. The learners walk about one and half to two hours to get to school one way. Some walk as far as 20km.
The first primary school we visited was for ages five to 13 years old. This school, along with many schools in this rural community, benefits from one of UNICEF’s nutrition programmes. All learners get one meal a day, for some this may be their only meal.
At the second school we visited, I felt very privileged to help serve the children’s lunch. The meal plan changes every day. Today we served beans and maize and pumpkin mash.
We also learned about the many programmes run by Sportstec. In particular, they have started an after school programme where children will learn about life skills, sports, and also have an opportunity to complete their homework. In the very near future Sportstec will introduce the children to computers and this will be integrated into their leaning. Many would be not exposed to this at home or in schools in Geluksburg.
Throughout the day, I was humbled by what I was witnessing; seeing the beautiful children so motivated to learn and the teachers making a commitment to do their best to support the learners. This would not be possible without partners like the IKEA Foundation and the commitment of co-workers believing that children are the most important people in the world.
Even without an IKEA store in South Africa, IKEA is creating a better everyday life for the many people.