Sparrow Schools enjoys Madiba’s spirit

Every July 18, the world comes together to celebrate the late icon, Nelson Mandela’s birthday by committing 67 Minutes to doing good deeds. Our Foundation School in Melville and our High Schools in Sophiatown welcomed the support of Hollard Insurance, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and Virgin Active Milpark for their 67 Minutes Mandela Day helps.

Hollard team hard at work

Hollard team hard at work

The Day kicked off at the Foundation School with an opening statement by the TNPA, organising committee member, Sizwe Msila. “Today will evoke a sense of consciousness in all of us,” Msila said before handing the floor to TNPA’s Acting CEO Nico Walters. “As a corporate, part of our role is to give back to the community. It is truly a privilege for Transnet to be a part of something like this. We would like to thank the school for giving us this opportunity. Let us do our work today, in Madiba’s spirit,” Walters said.

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The Foundation School Principal, Vanessa Brodrick, also took to the podium to welcome the guests. “These kinds of initiatives and helping hands allow us to enhance our strategies and allow for our continual development in challenging our learners to make a success of their lives. We thank you for the growing interest in our school as a whole and your incredible friendship. In South Africa we embrace the spirit of UBUNTU and today we extend that courtesy to you,” Brodrick said as she closed the opening.

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TNPA contributed R40 000 towards refurbishing our Foundation School Facilities. The parastatal brought a team of 50 and they were split into four different groups to carry out their different projects. The teams spent the day painting toilets, installing new taps and a ceiling at the Foundation Schools’ hall.

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Meanwhile Hollard and Virgin Active were hard at work cleaning up at the Combined School. Both teams were happy to get their hands dirty as they cleaned up the skip waste area as well as the compost and gardening area. Their commitment to the Madiba spirit was evident as they strived to meet the needs of the organization in keeping the grounds beautiful and litter free.

All three companies did a stellar job with a wonderful attitude of wanting to give back and General Manager, Jackie Gallagher, had nothing but good things to say. “Thank you for giving of yourselves in such a wonderful way today. I really hope that you can find the time to come back and see the impact that that you have made in our children’s lives,” Gallagher said.

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Being an Educate A Child Champion

Karen Koch walking for Sparrow Schools at the Discovery 702 Walk The Talk

Karen Koch walking for Sparrow Schools at the Discovery 702 Walk The Talk

Karen Koch is and continues to be one of Sparrow Schools’ longtime friend and an Educate A Child supporter. We caught up with her to get to know her better and what inspires her passion for our Educate A Child programme.

Q: How long have you been involved with the EAC programme?

A: I’ve been involved for about two years now.

Q: Why did you choose to get involved with Sparrow Schools and EAC? Why does this cause matter to you?

A: As part of a middle management development programme at work, teams were assigned an NGO to work with, and Sparrow Schools was one of them. Although I wasn’t part of the team that worked with Sparrow, one of the team members told me about the work you do and I was inspired to start getting involved. I believe that the only way to alleviate the poverty and help reduce crime in SA is by educating people so that they are able to find employment. By educating people who would otherwise have been failed by the system, and especially through the apprenticeship programme, Sparrow is doing something tangible to make our country a better place. At about the same time, I also heard a guy who had previously been homeless but had then been to your chef school, call in to Radio 702 to ask for work in a professional kitchen, and someone offered him a job on the spot. It was truly heart-warming.

Q: How important do you think giving back is?

A:  Firstly, I believe it is a Biblical principle – I am only a steward (not the owner) of what I receive, and it is my duty to help those less fortunate. Besides being a duty, it is also a privilege to help others who are not as blessed as I am, and by doing so, equip them to one day be in a position to bless others.

Q: How has your involvement with the EAC programme contributed to your personal growth?

A: We arranged a team from work to help paint one of the classrooms on Mandela Day 2013, and I’ve also been to a graduation ceremony. I was blessed just being part of those events.  It truly is a blessing to see the difference Sparrow makes in the children’s lives. I’ve also participated in the 2013 and 2014 Discovery 702 Walk the Talk events as part of the Sparrow team, so it’s not only good for my soul, but my physical health too!

Q: What are the most critical results you expect our organization to produce?

A: To equip children of all ages (particularly those who would not otherwise have had the opportunity) with the skills they will need to one day be productive members of society.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would want everyone to be loved and to live with dignity, to have enough to meet their needs and to contribute to society by helping others. That sounds very simple, but I believe there are many people who don’t have that and may never get the chance to get it. And it humbles me, because I am fortunate enough to be very blessed.

Q:  What actions do you think would best cause the change you envision?

A: Partnering with Sparrow is one of the ways in which I try to make the world a better place.  I may only help a few children, but they will go on to help others. If everyone did something, it adds up.

Q: What would you like to pass on to future generations?

A: I’m reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I would urge everyone to be a blessing to others – when you help others; your own blessings are multiplied. And of course, there are few things as gorgeous as the smile on a child’s face, so if I can help to make a few children smile, it’s enough for me.

You too can be an Educate A Child Champion and make a difference in a child’s life. Contact Precious Mbele on 011 482 1015 or preciousmbele@sparrowschools.co.za.