LIMPOPO – For 15 year-old orphan Sidwell Mathebula, a Grade 8 learner at Makovongo High School in KaMakoxa Village in the Giyani Mopani District, school is the only place where he is guaranteed any food.
“My sister used to buy food and clothes for us when she was working. But since she lost her job, we sometimes go to sleep hungry. If I don’t eat at school, I might go the whole day without food till I come to school tomorrow,” said Sidwell.
Makovongo High School, situated in the poverty stricken area of KaMakoxa, has 43 learners who are orphans. Teachers at the school say it is a horrific situation, as they are required to take on the roles of psychologists and social workers. They also use their own money to buy food for the children so that they have something to eat over the weekends.
“At times we have to search our pockets to assist these learners with money, so they can buy something to eat over the weekend. But it cannot be every day because we have our own financial responsibilities,” said one teacher. We sometimes go to sleep hungry. If I don’t eat at school, I might go the whole day without food till I come to school tomorrow.
We sometimes go to sleep hungry. If I don’t eat at school, I might go the whole day without food till I come to school tomorrow.
Sadike Malatjie, who works for Coca-Cola, has adopted two learners (a boy and a girl) and feels he can make a positive impact on their lives even though he does not have much money.
“I am not rich, but I feel I can make difference in these kids’ lives. One child wants to be a farmer and the other wants to be a dentist, so I will do everything I can to help them to realise their dreams,” said Malatjie.
Department of Social Development spokesperson Adele van der Linde said the department was appalled by the situation and will investigate the matter to see where they can assist.
“We will investigate the matter to see what can be done. Those orphans who are too young to stay alone will be taken to children’s homes and to those who are old enough to fend for themselves and their siblings will be assisted with food parcels, access to grants and will also be helped with school uniforms,” Van der Linde said.