Date published: 08 December 2017
For Olievenhoutbosch Christian School Principal Ria Wessels-Maluleke and her team at Blue-O Community Development, funding from Add Hope, KFC’s feeding initiative which combines customer donations and social investment funding, means they can work to address the incredible need in this impoverished community. The team provides quality education and support to around 350 children.
The Olievenhoutbosch settlement, originally planned to house around 20 000 individuals, now has close to 60 000 residents, putting major strain on resources such as housing, water, electricity, clinics, social services and education. “At our school alone, around 80% of the children are growing up in single parent households,” says Wessels-Maluleke. “Close to 90% need to survive on very little to no income. The school feeds 171 children, and helps 30 families in the community. Other challenges include a very high crime and abuse rate. Many people lose hope in these circumstances and stop believing in a future for their children.”
When it comes to education, Wessels-Maluleke says they need to address the physical, mental, and social needs of children in their care. “When I started at the school, education was not a priority for many of the parents or children. They were more concerned about surviving. Many days it felt like we were wasting our time teaching, as most of the children in our classes were too hungry to respond or participate in the activities. We then introduced a feeding scheme at the school, starting just with porridge and sandwiches in the mornings. After two years we introduced lunch as well, and with the help of the Add Hope funding we were able to give healthy cooked meals to children.”
She highlights the story of Patricia, a single mother of three, currently living in a ZOZO hut and surviving on the income from a government grant and a part-time job twice a week. The support Patricia receives from the school community is making a huge difference. “On my income, I can only afford to buy food so that we can eat only once a day, in the evenings. My children were going to school hungry,” says Patricia. “We’d eat in the evening so that at least we can sleep, and not stay awake because of the hunger. Now at the school after-care centre, my children get a healthy cooked lunch and help with their homework. As a single mother, this is such a blessing to me, not only are my children not hungry anymore, but they are performing better at school because they have energy to do homework, sport and reading in the afternoons. I also know my children are not in the streets, getting involved in the wrong stuff.”
Patricia has great dreams for her children. “They must study to be able to support themselves and their families one day, without wondering where the next meal is coming from. I am so proud of my children, who never blame me for the bad circumstances we live in. I am proud that they are doing so well at school and that they live with grateful hearts, because they know how it is to not have anything. Because of Add Hope, I can hope for a better future for my children again.”
The Add Hope team want to increase the children the initiative reaches in communities all over South Africa through NGOs like Blue-O Community Development. “Statistics SA shows that 51% of people are living in poverty, most of whom are children and African,” says Thabisa Mkhwanazi, KFC Africa Corporate Affairs Director and Add Hope champion. “We need to do what we can to turn the tide on the devastating effect of hunger and malnutrition on children. Add Hope works because it’s a small donation that is quick to add – it’s really the power of the collective to change lives. Your R2 fills children and their families with hope.”
To find out more about the Add Hope, visit www.addhope.co.za