American’s donation buys tank for school

Members of Rylands High Schools Green Revolution Environmental Club, with mayor Dan Plato, gathered around their new rainwater tank.

An American high school pupil who visited Cape Town during the water shortages last year, was so affected by the water restrictions that residents had to adhere to that she organised a fund-raiser at home to help buy a rainwater tank for Rylands High School.

Pupils at Rylands High started an environmental club, called Green Revolution, and part of their work entails growing vegetable gardens.

On Wednesday July 17, mayor Dan Plato, the environmental club and Rylands High staff, a representative of the Water Institute of South Africa (WISA), and representatives from Shoprite, gathered at a ceremony where the water tank was officially handed over the school.

Natasia van Binsbergen from WISA, explained that the American pupil, Isabella Etienne, from the Schechter School of Long Island in New York, made contact with them to ask how the $90 (about R1 500) she raised in a cake sale at school can assist.

“This tank represents the start of a relationship with the school. It is the realisation of Isabella’s dream. She sent the money to WISA, and our chief executive officer (CEO) called the City of Cape Town to ask what we could do with the money. We decided to match her $90, and it amounted to R3 000. Rylands High School was identified as the beneficiary of the rainwater tank that was bought with the money. Then Shoprite came along and offered to pay for the installation of the tank. We look forward to the relationship with the school and other schools, as we are moving into a world of alternative water sources,” Ms Binsbergen said.

In a letter, Isabella wrote: “I came home with many souvenirs and memories, but also with concern for the state of Cape Town’s water shortages. I felt a need to give back to the city I have become so attached to.”

Rylands High School principal, Kona Naidoo, said the school appreciates all those who assisted with this project.

Speaking at the handover, he said: “In her absence, we acknowledge Isabella Etienne. Her philanthropic gesture and her maturity to realise a community or city’s need and to act by involving her school community has to rate among the highest educational achievements. We also thank WISA and Shoprite for your contribution towards the purchase and installation of the rainwater tank. Our thanks also goes out to mayor Plato, our Western Cape Education Department’s circuit manager, Anusha Naidoo, who is so instrumental in driving awareness in schools about water conservation. We look forward with great enthusiasm to our future partnerships with each of you.”

Mr Plato said he learnt of cities in America with similar water challenges. “What we have done is to take the public along with us, because small mindset changes can make a major impact. Today we speak about green economies and green schools, among others. I want to thank the pupils for their efforts. I wish you well and want you to succeed in creating a bright future. We must use our opportunities for the good, and follow the legacy left by Madiba,” Mr Plato said.