Sandwich project spreads kindness

Pupils write kind notes and attach them to the sandwiches.

Belmor Primary School pupils are being taught that kindness goes a long way as they make sandwiches for their peers with words of kindness attached to them.

Grade 7 teacher Charnelle Arendse started the Sew a Sandwich project in 2015 after she noticed how many pupils asked for something to eat daily before going home.

She said that the same 45 pupils who received porridge from the school’s feeding scheme also now received a sandwich once a week.

Hunger made it hard for the children to learn or have hope, she said.

During the pandemic, the sandwiches have been made by the women who cook for the school’s feeding scheme to limit the spread of germs, but the pupils still write the kind messages that get slipped into the sandwich bags: “You are brave”, “You matter”, “God loves you”, “Stay hopeful”, “Smile”, “You are unique, and you are special”.

“They really appreciate it, and they are excited to read the messages from their peers,” said Ms Arendse. “Their teachers have mentioned how eager they are to read out their notes and how it puts a smile on their faces.”

It was important for schools to have feeding schemes because many children did not have the comfort of knowing that there would be something for them to eat when they returned home.

“This was a way for the kids to get involved as well. It is important because hunger is a reality for many kids on the Cape Flats. The project is really an upliftment for the kids, knowing that someone values them.”

Charnelle Arendse with her Grade 7 pupils.

Grade 6 teacher Keenah Lawrence said the project taught pupils to be kind to each other and to always be humble about what they had as the next person might not be as lucky.

“When I came to this school, the project was already running, and I just wanted to jump in and get involved. I thought it was a brilliant idea. We each just brought whatever we had at home and put it on their bread which they really enjoyed. We have to consider the factors that children are faced with and hunger is one of them. One of my favourite things to write is ‘everyday is a new day’, and ‘you matter’, ” she said.

The chairman of the Hanover Park Residents’ Forum, Denver Andrews, said feeding schemes played a vital role because Covid had taken a heavy toll on many families.

“Families are struggling, and parents are so grateful for these feeding schemes in the community and at schools. When feeding schemes closed down because of the pandemic regulations, communities on the Cape Flats suffered a lot. That was a really bad idea. Many families cannot afford food let alone stationery or uniforms and school fees. The government really needs to look at making sure that each school has a feeding scheme so that children can at least have one solid meal at school.”