School basics out of reach for many

Back, from left, are Party with a Purpose Productions board members and volunteers Henry Fielding, Fayruze Noor, Ros Dantu, Alteena Cleenwerck and Latasha Storm from Help to Care South Africa. Front: Vanessa Nelson from Hope for the Future, founder Chad Abrahams, Karin Arends and Paul Nelson from Hope for the Future.

Growing unemployment and poverty mixed with rising prices are putting school uniforms and stationery out of reach for many, says an organisation helping needy children.

Party with a Purpose Productions (PPP) has donated uniforms, school shoes, beanies, gloves, scarves and stationery to thousands of children since it started 18 years ago, but, for the past two years, it has been unable to hold its usual fund-raisers because of Covid-19 restrictions.

At the same time, the organisation says the need has become that much greater.

“We have an annual Kit a Kid 4 School campaign. The last two years we could only fund-raise on social media, and this year we raised enough money to donate 100 stationery packs worth R120 each. We are only reaching one little drop in a big bucket. The need is growing all the time,” said founder member Chad Abrahams.

On Saturday January 15, the stationery packs were handed over to representatives from Hope for the Future, an organisation that works in Heideveld and Gugulethu, and Help to Care South Africa, an organisation from Delft.

Vanessa Nelson, from Hope for the Future, said the donation had come at the right time.

“We have been running our back-to-school campaign for five years, but we were not able to raise any funds for our campaign this year,” she said.

“Most people we assist depend on government grants. Many are grandmothers caring for their grandchildren. The grant is just not enough to cover all the needs. Some make debt during the month, and by the time they receive their grant, then they again have no money left for survival because they had to repay their debt.

“With the impact of Covid-19, we have learnt that even the families who are considered middle-income are also struggling to get the necessities. The cost of living is just too high, Covid-19 led to massive job losses, and our people simply cannot cope.

“In Heideveld, I would say unemployment is at 80%. The hardest hit are the single mothers who worked in factories which closed down because of Covid-19.”

Latasha Storm, from Help to Care South Africa, agreed that the unemployment rate “plays a huge role” in parents not being able to afford the basic school necessities.

“A lot of people were hard hit by the impact of the pandemic, as many businesses closed. There are people who never had it difficult before, who are struggling now. There is one family I know where both parents and their son lost their jobs within a matter of days, and now everybody in that household is unemployed. The need is great, but we take it as it comes, never giving up on our faith and hope,” Ms Storm said.

Simone Flandorp, one of the parents who received a stationery donation, said even with her and her husband working, school necessities were out of their reach.

“It is so difficult, especially if you have more than one child at school. We have two children at primary school and one at creche.

“Our jobs are not secure. One day you work, and the next day, you might not. My one child’s stationery requirements cost R1 300, never mind the other.

“I do realise there are other parents in worse circumstances than what I find myself in. Some parents are not in a position to buy anything.

“When we received the stationery packs some parents cried tears of gratitude. We are so grateful. It came at the perfect time,” Ms Flandorp said.

One hundred stationery packs, worth R120 each, were donated to underprivileged children from Heideveld, Gugulethu and Delft.