Bob doing his bit

Former Springbok rugby captain and poster boy, Bob Skinstad has announced a R1-million partnership between his Bobs for Good Foundation and South African Breweries (SAB) to donate uniquely designed shoes to impoverished learners.

At an event in Lanseria, northwest of Johannesburg, it was revealed that the partnership will entail 10 000 pairs of shoes being distributed to learners across the country. The shoes are fitted with a specially-designed reflective strip to enhance the visibility of learners as they walk to school in the early hours of the morning and when they return home late in the evenings. The shoe is 100% developed and manufactured in South Africa.

Many learners walk distances of between 10km and 20 km to and from schools, some even barefoot. About 300 learners from Blair Athol Primary, Nooitgedacht Primary, St Ansgars High School and Kwena Molapo High School, all falling under Gauteng north district, were this week the first to benefit from this donation.

Teachers and learners were excited, explaining that this will provide relief to learners who come from impoverished families. Tebello Matsie, a grade three teacher at Blair Athol Primary summed it up: “We are extremely excited and touched by this gesture.

“Most of our children come from very poor families and walk long distances to school without shoes.”

She said the number of learners without shoes at her school is higher than the amount of shoes that were handed out. “Those who are here represent the poorest of the poor and we have chosen six from each grade based on their level of poverty. We hope this event will challenge other donors to come forward so that we can cater for other deserving learners.”

SAB is involved in the partnership because it dovetails with its strategy of promoting pedestrian safety particularly among learners. It noted that most road fatalities are linked to alcohol abuse where drunk drivers exceed the required speed limit in residential areas and also fail to stop at mandatory intersections where pedestrian cross the road.

The brewery said that road-induced deaths, including car and pedestrian deaths, are the biggest killer of school children aged 10-14 years in the country.

According to SAB these roads accidents involving pedestrians peak between 4pm and 7pm when children are returning home from school or playing on the street.

Addressing a hall packed with ecstatic learners and teachers, Skinstad said every child in South Africa has a right to hope and dignity.

“The opportunity to work with SAB on this project is a great privilege. We believe that SAB’s vision and genuine commitment to making a positive impact in helping reduce shocking statistics relating to child pedestrian deaths, combined with our underlying aim of delivering hope, pride and dignity to South Africa’s neediest learners, will make a significant and real impact,” said Skinstad.

SAB’s executive director of corporate affairs and transformation, Vincent Maphai said parents and teachers have a significant role to play in educating children about road safety and alcohol abuse.

He thanked Skinstad for joining hands with SAB saying ” … This country will be changed for the better by attitudes of ordinary citizens like you Bob. This initiative is not just about shoes but about caring.”

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Thabo Mohlala
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