Mobilising the power of education to break the cycle of poverty
Wednesday, 3 July 2019, Growing up in a community where household budgets are so tight that speaking about your need for shoes, winter clothing, feminine hygiene necessities or even stationery could mean the rest of your family may not have enough to eat, may lead to a situation where children would rather go without these essentials than ask for them.
A day filled with fun physical activities demonstrated to the pupils the advantages of exercise and sports to get your heart racing.
Learners at the Olefile Secondary School, which is situated in the deep rural village of Pitsedisulejang, Moses Kotane Municipality in the North West province, do not often get the opportunity to venture much further than the informal settlement they call home. A recent Medipost Holdings corporate social investment initiative, however, enabled the Olefile high school learners to participate in a fun-filled sports and recreation day hosted at Clapham High School in Pretoria.
A recent corporate social investment initiative saw Olefile high school learners from Pitsedisulejang in the Moses Kotane Municipality in the North West participate in a fun-filled sports and recreation day in Pretoria.
Medipost Holdings partnered with Patricia Mathivha recently on a health and education focused corporate social investment initiative for pupils of Olefile Secondary School. Mathivha has a deep and fundamental understanding of the challenges faced by children who live in poverty, as she comes from a very similar background. She was eager to inspire the school pupils to look beyond their present economic situation and keep working towards a brighter future.
“I grew up very, very poor. We didn’t always have food or clothes, and shoes were something you only got for Christmas or when they got passed down or donated.
“With the first money that I earned, I bought myself my first underwear and sanitary pads, and I felt rich,” says Mathivha, who is now a pharmacist and owner of Vida Brands (Pty) Ltd which sells Sally Sanitary Pads.
“Through this initiative, I want to plant hope. I want to be a reference point for children who are growing up the same way as I did,” she explains.
Kgomotso Maapola, corporate social investment manager for Medipost Holdings, comprising Medipost Pharmacy, MediLogistics and Kawari Wholesalers, says that all too often there are economic barriers that make it particularly difficult for children to focus on their health and education.
“The school first approached us because the learners desperately wanted to play sports, but could not afford the kits needed. When they made the request, we knew that we had to get involved.”
High school learners were not only taught but shown how much joy an active lifestyle can bring.
“There are a number of factors that we take into account when we have the opportunity to support non-profit organisations through our corporate social investment initiatives. The promotion of education and health are top priorities for Medipost, as we believe these are the pillars of a more equal and prosperous society,” explains Rentia Myburgh, sales and marketing director of Medipost Holdings.
Mr Tefo Makganye, the principal of Olefile Secondary School, adds: “To put it into perspective, many have never seen an urban city and most never been inside a vehicle for such a long distance.”
According to Makganye, the school faces many serious socio-economic challenges: “A lot of our children come from homes where poverty is rife. Many have parents who are unemployed and their circumstances at home are dire, to say the least. We have learners that come to school hungry every day and who struggle to concentrate. In many cases, these promising youngsters cannot see beyond the confines of their circumstances.”
“We want our youth to become healthy, active adults, but they do need support and encouragement. We need to not only tell them, but also show them, how it can change their lives. In February we donated kits for netball, soccer and volleyball. It only seemed natural to then challenge them to play against our staff netball and soccer teams in their new sports kits,” Maapola says.
Victor Khoza, a pharmaceutical administrator for Medipost Pharmacy, a division of Medipost Holdings, was both the master of ceremonies and the commentator for the sporting events of the day. “I cannot begin to explain how deeply humbled and honoured I feel to have had this opportunity to give of my time to these learners. They taught us more than we could ever teach them through their spirited determination and zest for life. All of this, despite the difficulties they face day after day.”
Khoza was one of the many employees from Medipost who volunteered their time to reach out to the school pupils. “What better way than a day filled with fun physical activities to demonstrate to the children the advantages of getting our hearts racing through exercise, sports and dancing?”
The day kicked off with the bus ride for the grade 8 to 12 learners from Moses Kotane to the sports grounds of Clapham High, where the day’s festivities were hosted. Upon arrival, breakfast was served and, before the sporting challenge kicked into gear, the learners were warmly welcomed with an inspirational talk by Mathivha that struck a chord with them.
Rentia Myburgh, sales and marketing director of Medipost Holdings says the promotion of education and health are top priorities for Medipost.
“Rising above one’s circumstances is possible, but it takes hard work. The one thing that kept me going growing up, was the knowledge that education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty. When you are motivated, determined and willing to work hard, there are opportunities available out there. Education is the basis from which you need to work, from there it is simply a matter of finding the opportunities to get those bursaries and sponsorships that will enable you to reach your dreams,” Mathivha says.
According to Makganye, the students were incentivised to attend the day based on their sport and academic performance. The top ten boys and girls of each grade were selected. “When Medipost informed us that we have been selected for the initiative, we were over the moon. Our school is so deeply rooted in the rural community that in the past 11 years since I have been here, not a single foundation that we have approached offered us such an investment,” he explains.
Khoza says Team Medipost scored 10 – 2 against Olefile in netball, while the two soccer matches were split between the teams. In the first game, Medipost won 6 – 4 and in the second match, Olefile defeated Medipost 3 – 0. A dance-off between the teams saw the learners dancing their way to victory. The day wrapped up with a prize giving where learners received medals and goodie bags with pencil case equipped with stationery for both girls and boys and sanitary pads for the girls to take home.
“The value of this initiative is that these high school learners were not only taught but also shown how much joy an active lifestyle can bring, apart from the many physical, emotional and mental benefits of the exercise.
“The incentive and the inspiring speech deeply touched the hearts of everyone who attended. It made the learners aware that the potential to harness educational and employment opportunities is well within their reach if they continue to work hard towards fulfilling their dreams,” Maapola concludes.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Medipost Holdings
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone: (011) 469 3016