Story by Dumi Mbona/ Pictures by Luvo Mlobe
An energy fun filled event took place on the 25th January 2019 at Ngqayizivele Secondary School in Tembisa. A passionate teacher in Mr. TI Skonje together with his former learner in Mr. Luvo Mlobeli coordinated a fun filled event in the presence of dignitaries from the Department of Education as well as local community leaders and celebrities such as Lindiwe Dube, Bridgette Mohloba, Vyno Miller, Hazel Nkomo, Xolani Luhabe, Lerato Pasha, Lerato Morotolo, Beverly Mnyandu, Councillor Thabang and Thabile Tsotetsi to name a few.
Social Networks such as Facebook are well known for connecting distanced friends and families; but it is also known for some not so nice things depending on how an individual uses it! Luvo decided to use it for positive purposes which are to find former schoolmates at Ngqayizivele Secondary School.
Where the idea started
It was when he was invited at Mrs. Palesa Rankobe’s (school administrator) event as a photographer where he took photos of those teachers in attendance and shared them on facebook captioned “do you remember these faces” where many of former learners liked and shared those photos on their timelines; the idea was born! “I was fascinated with the response and I was like: guys why don’t we start something like a shoe campaign called One Person One Pair. Where each person buys a pair of school shoes and collectively we send them to school as a token of appreciation to the teachers who helped shape our careers and instilled great values in us even at the time when we didn’t know what were they preparing us for?” Luvo explained.
It took several sleepless nights of organizing using social networks. On their first meeting which was attended by an amazing 50 former learners at Ngqayizivele Secondary School it was agreed that a “buying power” is needed, of which a bank account was opened to allow people to deposit an amount of R300 each.
Luvo continued to push people to deposit the money and the response was incredible as everyone rallied behind this vision “It was scary; they say if the vision do not scare you it’s not big enough. The first time we went to buy 66 pairs of good quality shoes” Luvo said in excitement.
“I personally come from a very poor background; raised without a father, a teacher identified that without me telling her. She called me aside and asked where my father was? I got emotional and told her how it affected me that he was absent. It was amazing that she could see my situation. There were times where we had to stay behind at school for extra classes; these teachers would buy food for us. I was an average learner and at times really failed in simple subjects; my teachers advised me to loosen up which completely changed my academic performance” Luvo recalls.
It is clear that those simple gestures from teachers created pyramids of kindness in Luvo which led to this moment.
Pairs of school Shoes distributed on the day were 106 “my vision is to spread this all over Tembisa; to go to different schools especially primary schools. For the fact that we had other people who are not former students like my boss at SuperSport contributing, it shows the importance of this initiative. This event today is a result of a team of people who share the same passion and values, I believe there are many more out there” Luvo concludes.
This is what other former learners had to say:
“This day means that former learners at our school are giving back to the community so that we as current learners have confidence and are equal to other kids” Rebecca.
“It’s a good thing that they have given us the shoes because in class other learners pick on us; so now our self-esteem will improve” Relebokgile.
“It shows us no matter what happens in life you must be able to help other kids, our home situations are not the same. Others feel ashamed that they don’t have shoes; it helps because we will not miss school because of damaged shoes” Boitumelo
“Our parents are unemployed so this initiative relieve stress and worry for them. They encourage us to do the same to others one day, we would like to say thank you to former learners at Ngqayizivele” Ntombokhanyo.
“For me it also speaks of us being brave enough to raise our hands in the class and say we need help because many other learners get embarrassed of what others might say” Rebecca.
“When someone ask ‘what do you want?’ you must be able to speak because one day you will regret it once the opportunity has passed and you didn’t use it” Relebokgile
“At first I felt a bit shy but I told myself that I don’t live to please people, because whether you doing good or bad people will talk; so I have to ask for help if I need it and don’t feel ashamed” Boitumelo.