Four schools in the Thaba Chweu Municipality near Lydenburg were given a new lease on life when boreholes were drilled by the Crescent of Hope organisation at the behest of Awqaf SA, a local NGO that works towards improving and empowering South African communities.
Fazel Ismail from the Crescent of Hope, which does charitable work, approached Awqaf SA when he got news of several schools in dire need of support in the Moremela district, near the famous tourist area of the Blyde River Canyon and the Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
“The two boreholes we dug at Sekwai High School, and its neighbouring Primary School LL Mohane, are a moving story of the status quo in our country. These schools are within a stone’s throw of luxury guesthouses and five-star tourist facilities, yet they still don’t have proper running water.
“At the high school, I observed that the learners were walking behind, and not into, their toilets. When I asked them why they were doing this, they showed me that the school had pit latrines. They were so disgusting and unsafe that the learners told me the bush was a healthier option for relieving themselves.
“The school had water tanks in the yard, but I was told that when filled they would only be able to supply enough water for a day,” he said.
Ismail said that at the primary school he had been told by a teacher that he was grateful there was bush near the school, as the young learners could relieve themselves in relative privacy.
“When I saw all this, I realised we had to do something. So I contacted Zeinoul Abideen Cajee, the CEO of Awqaf SA, who gave us the green light to help the learners and educators.
“In spite of the tourist industry so close by these are very impoverished communities. I could see that the learners had broken shoes, threadbare uniforms and sometimes were even barefoot,” he said.
Ismail said that the expressions on the learners and educators’ faces when they saw the water coming out of the earth was something he would never forget.
“Disbelief, joy and the realisation they wouldn’t have to carry water to school…absolutely priceless and so humbling. We just wish we had the resources to reticulate water for flushing toilets,” he added.
Ismail said that the educators at the two schools were overjoyed, saying that Crescent and Awqaf SA were the first people to actually keep their promises to help them.
Deputy MEC of Tourism in Mpumalanga, Fish Mahlalela, who has supported previous initiatives from the side of local government, said the boreholes would have a massive, positive impact on the learners.
“The schools have feeding schemes supported by the education department, but without water, it has been extremely difficult to cook the food. Water now makes it easy to cook and feed the learners,” he said.
Mr. Mahlalela said that there were further benefits. A steady supply of water could be used to create vegetable gardens in the grounds of the schools, and also for taps outside the schools to supply water for the surrounding community.
He said he made a call to all South Africans to help organisations like Awqaf SA to make a difference.