Sending hope and love to South Africa…
My wife Anne and I visited South Africa early in 2018, and witnessed the extreme poverty and dangerous conditions in the Cape Flats townships. We returned home thinking and praying about how we might help the children and families there. Our prayers were answered when we heard from a former work colleague of Anne’s, Karen Sparrow, who put a plea on Facebook for good used football boots to assist Ralph Bouwers and his team of coaches connected with The Guardians of the National Treasure (GNT). Ralph, Mark Nicholson and others had been overwhelmed with hundreds of boys and girls wanting to play soccer, but the youngsters didn’t have decent footwear!
I set about finding football boots by contacting friends, local schools and football clubs and within weeks I had around 60 pairs of boots and some soccer shirts and shorts to ship out to Ralph and the GNT. The boots kept coming in and very soon I was receiving requests for netball kit, swimming costumes and floats, rugby boots and kit, karate wear and from early this year, dance wear for little girls wanting to attend ballet and dance classes.
During 2018 10 tea-chest sized boxes were shipped to the townships. Each consignment comprises two boxes and takes around 12 weeks to reach Ralph. At the time of writing in March 2019, some 300 pairs of used children’s footwear comprising soccer and rugby boots, trainers (‘takkies’) dance-shoes and plimsolls; hundreds of sports shirts; netball skirts; swim-wear and floats and karate kit have been donated. Hundreds of the poorest children are involved in sports as a result of the work of the charity and donated gifts and shipping funds, so a massive thank you to all who have helped in any way. I am particularly grateful to RAFT (Refugee Aid from Taunton) for their donations of items which are of little use to refugees suffering from the cold, but are like gold-dust for township children in South Africa. RAFT does wonderful work and they constantly remind me they like to ‘share the love’! Sincere thanks also to friends and family for help with shipping costs (£150 /two-box shipment).
The karate kit sent from the UK went to a boy called Gio from Lavender Hill. Gio was picked for his country to compete at Commonwealth Karate Championships in Durban last November 2018, but he didn't have the required kit, so we helped him. He was the only South African in any age group who made it to the rostrum, winning 2nd place in the U.12's! He has subsequently won first place for his age group in South Africa.
Looking forward in 2019, our partner charity In Place of War (IPOW), based at Manchester University, has obtained grants to help build a new Arts and Community Centre at Lavender Hill. IPOW works in those areas of the world where communities are affected by conflict, and they have achieved great success in bringing hope and aspirations to people who were previously consumed by their dangerous surroundings and a lack of love. Anne and I have witnessed in Langa township the positive changes a community building can bring by offering a base for craftspeople to work and sell their products, and as a centre for music, dance and drama. Following initiatives elsewhere in Africa, we are confident this exciting development at Lavender Hill will continue to build the momentum of positive change, and both Anne and I hope to visit later this year.
My thanks to Mountway School of Dance here in Taunton, UK, for their support and the donated ballet shoes and dance-wear. Verity and her students are giving children in the Lavender Hill area a ‘Chance to Dance’.
Another initiative we are presently working on is a link between Cheddon Fitzpaine Primary School, here in Somerset, UK, and a primary school in the township. I have a long connection with the local school, and both children and teachers are keen to develop the link.
And if you would like to help more children in Lavender Hill, Cape Town, South Africa, to donate kit or support shipping and other costs, please contact me: Kevin Davenport