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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Cricket captain scores a double century with Alexandra learners

Johannesburg – The philanthropy of cricket captain Temba Bavuma descended on a high school in Alexandra, north of Joburg, when his foundation donated 200 pairs of sneakers to needy children identified by teachers.

Realogile High School is a no-fee school and many of the learners come from impoverished backgrounds where a pair of takkies, even hand-me-downs, is a luxury.

The learners who benefited from this gesture led by the Proteas captain were visibly chuffed when the Temba Bavuma Foundation touched down at their school, among many others that could have been chosen.

Project Run, an up-and-running collection campaign to benefit learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, partnered with the Temba Bavuma Foundation. Tyson Sithole, chairperson of the Temba Bavuma Foundation. is grateful that Project Run identified synergies to exploit with his organisation.

“We ran a collection last year, asking members of the community to donate sneakers, using The Sneaker Shack outlets. We were able to collect 150 pre-loved sneakers. New Balance then donated 60 new pairs,” Sithole says.

He adds that they are not new visitors to the Alexandra school, which clearly lacks resources. Last year the Temba Bavuma Foundation donated sanitary pads to learners at the school. Sithole says the foundation prefers to keep track of their work at a school, almost like it is adopting the school. “We just want to measure the level of our impact.”

There is a great need for these items that normally would be taken for granted, like sneakers and pads, Sithole says. The Sneaker Shack is an interesting modern enterprise.

Its business model is to wash sneakers. Founder and CEO Lolo Ndlovu points to the world of convenience and services, and says “it is almost as if the footwear has been left behind”.

“We cut our hair at salons, we use e-hailing taxis. Our cars go to the car wash. Sneakers are left behind. Once in a while, we will remember them on a Sunday to give them an occasional wash.

“So, at The Sneaker Shack, we try to fill that service gap. Our footwear can also fall into the area of ‘service’. We got to realise how much footwear means to people. Someone can spend five minutes telling you how they got to own the shoe before dropping it off. There are stories behind the sneakers. Some people have ‘lucky shoes’.”

Ndlovu cites studies that show that in 2023, “sneakers are going to be the highest asset class among young people. Our business is to take care of this asset class”.

They packaged the shoes donated to the learners in cushy hip goodie bags bearing their logo. Deputy principal Tela Ramahlare says the school has 2 168 learners. There was no other magic criterion except identifying the less privileged.

“When it started, we thought they were going to give them school shoes. These kids do not have school shoes. Some are orphans and others are from child-headed households.”

The need for help at the school is great, and Ramahlare emphasises the point.

“The school infrastructure is dilapidated. The teacher/learner ratio is huge. Classes are cramped.”

But today, not one but 200 learners go away with running shoes they would otherwise never have owned. A few boys, soccer players, said they were over the moon when they were given soccer boots.

It would appear that after his century at the Mangaung Oval recently, Bavuma has just scored 200 with learners at Realogile high school!

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