It was a morning of big hugs, warm smiles and tears of joy as 300 learners from five schools in and around Ximba near Cato Ridge outside Durban each received a pair of brand new school shoes as part of the ongoing Project Soul 2 Sole. For many of the children, this is the first new pair of school shoes they have ever owned.
Spearheaded by KZN-based NPO, Blue Sky Society Trust, in conjunction with The Lion Match Group and Aramex South Africa, Project Soul 2 Sole has, for the past four years, made a phenomenal impact on the lives of some of KwaZulu-Natal’s most destitute children by distributing new and pre-loved school shoes.
“It truly astounds me that in 2018 there are some seven million children in Africa who have never owned a pair of new or second hand shoes,” explains Carla Geyser, founder of Blue Sky Society Trust. “The look in a child’s eyes, the smile on their face when they receive their first pair of school shoes is something hard to explain. We have a phenomenal group of people involved in this impactful project, to whom I am truly grateful!”
While distribution of the pre-loved school shoes wrapped up at the end of last month, the new shoes distribution drive is now well underway across KZN. This morning’s handover at Mdepha High School is the project’s largest shoe-drop thus far. Learners from two of the 11 KZN schools that contributed towards Project Soul 2 Sole, Orient Islamic School and Clifton College, helped distribute the footwear to children from Mdepha High, Esiqhingini Full Service School, Othweba Primary School, Nonqanda Primary School and St Julius Secondary School in and around the Mayibuye Game Reserve. In addition to a brand new pair of shoes, the pupils also received a pair of socks, a tin of shoe polish and an Uzwelo book bag.
“At the Lion Match Group, one of our first class brands is our Lion Quality shoe polish and as part of investing and growing our company ethos and awareness, we strongly believe in giving back to the communities who are so loyal to our brand,” says Milena Domiro, Marketing and CSI Manager at Lion Match Group. “We believe by partnering with Blue Sky Society Trust on the Soul 2 Sole Project, we are helping future leaders of our beautiful country, one shoe at a time.”
It was a heart-warming moment for Simon Ntuli, the deputy principal of Mdepha High School, who watched as hundreds of his learners tried on the new shoes to find their perfect fit. “We are living in a poverty-stricken area and most of our learners do not have full school uniforms,” he says. “So this is a great day for us, to have new school shoes for our children. We are so grateful for Project Soul 2 Sole.”
It is moments like these that are priceless to co-sponsor, Aramex South Africa. “Whether working with the youth, entrepreneurs or for environmental protection, community engagement is a central aspect of our strategy,” says Sade’ Goodman, Transformation Director for Aramex South Africa (Pty) Ltd. “The Soul 2 Sole Project is a perfect fit for us as our main focus has always been supporting children and education. We are so excited to be able to have a positive impact on communities in need and to make a real difference.”
Project Soul 2 Sole has tripled in size and reach over the past four years, with children in the North West province and the Eastern Cape now benefitting from over 16 000 pre-loved shoes thanks to the generosity of KZN pupils and parents.
Jabula Combined School near Howick received their batch of new school shoes last Friday (4 May 2018) as did Dargle Primary School in the same area. Silindele Primary School in Bothas Hill and Umzokhulayo Primary School in the Umzokhulayo/Ndwedwe area received their allocation of new school shoes last month. The distribution drive at Kwagence Primary School in KwaMashu, Mqhawe Secondary School in Inanda, and Umthombomuhle Intermediate School in the Cliffdale/Hammersdale area will take place over the next few weeks.
The distribution of the pre-loved school shoes wrapped up at the end of last year following generous donations by 11 schools across the province, namely Maritzburg College, Michaelhouse, Durban Girls High School, Our Lady of Fatima Dominican Convent School, Clifton School, Virginia Preparatory School, La Lucia Junior Primary, Chelsea Preparatory, Orient Islamic School, Hilton College and Durban Girls College.