Nearly 3 000 children from poverty-stricken areas in KwaZulu-Natal can now walk with dignity and hope after receiving school shoes, socks and shoe polish to the value of more than R330 000 from the corporate and community initiative, Soul2Sole2019.

Aimed at making a significant change one school, one child and one pair of shoes at a time, Soul2Sole2019 is spearheaded by the Blue Sky Society Trust in partnership with The Lion Match Company and Aramex South Africa. 

The project saw 2881 pairs of new and gently-worn school shoes, socks and Lion Quality Shoe Polish distributed to little ones in the KZN Midlands and in the greater Durban area, many of whom had never owned a pair of school footwear before. The contributions serve as a helping hand for families too, most of whom rely on social grants to survive thereby making school shoes a luxury purchase.

Milena Domiro (Group Corporate Affairs and Marketing Manager, The Lion Match Company) helping a leaner with new school shoes at Sanele Primary School in Ndwedwe. Image: Supplied

“Soul2Sole is of great help to the school and the community,” said Nomasonto Mntungwa, principal of Sanele Primary School in Ndwedwe that received 295 pairs of shoes. 

“Most of our learners are vulnerable, dependent on their grandparent’s grant. As we are approaching wintertime, it’s cold, shoes will protect the children from cold winter days. As the road to school is gravel that makes it difficult to walk fast, the shoes will be of great help.” she added.

There were smiles all around as the children laced up and buckled their school shoes. “Thank you very much. Now I have school shoes I did not have. I am very happy!” said Lindani Hlophe a grade 4 pupil at KwaSimamane Junior Primary

The school’s principal, Nhlanhla Msomi, said Soul2Sole2019 has brought hope, relief and gratitude to the broader community.

“Most of our learners did not have school shoes as winter is approaching. Soul2Sole came at the right time when most learners needed help. The mood was very good not only to me but to educators, learners and parents as well. I am even now getting words of appreciation from parents who are gratified by Soul2Soles’s sincere donation.” said Msomi.

Children in South Africa are among more than seven million learners in Africa who go to school either barefoot or without proper footwear, risking injury and infection. 

Mthandazo Vika (Blue Sky Society Trust) and Gasa Mpilwenhle from Empilweni Primary School in Bothas Hill during the Project Soul2Sole drop-off. Image: Supplied

Milena Domiro, the group Corporate Affairs and Marketing Manager, for the Lion Match Company said they got involved in the ongoing Soul2Sole project to help grow and empower the future leaders of the country. 

“No child should have to go to school without a pair of shoes on their feet. Seeing the joy in the faces of these children when they receive the socks, Lion Quality Shoe Polish and school shoes, is priceless. Brand new school shoes cost a lot of money and these families cannot afford them. It warms my heart to know they will have one less thing to worry about,” said Domiro.

Learners from 14 schools in KZN rallied round to help, generously donating their shoes to less fortunate learners during the campaign that began in July 2018. The contributing schools include;  Hilton College (269 pairs), Maritzburg College (158 pairs); Danville Park Girls High School (137 pairs) and a lot more.

In addition to the donation of gently-worn shoes, The Lion Match Company purchased 932 pairs of new shoes for distribution. All shoes were presented to pupils in the following schools in the Midlands: Jabula Primary School, Thembelihle School, Lions River Primary School, Curry Post Primary School, Crystal Springs Primary School and Hlanganani Primary School. Schools in the greater Durban area that benefited from project Soul2Sole are Sanele Primary School and KwaSimamane Primary School in Ndwedwe, Empilweni Primary School in Botha’s Hill, and St. Martin’s Diocesan Home for Children in Glenwood.

Aramex South Africa sponsored transportation costs, assisting with the collection, storage and distribution of the shoes. 

2881 children from poverty-stricken areas in KwaZulu-Natal received new and previously-loved school shoes, socks and shoe polish valued at more than R330 000. Image: Supplied

Soul2Sole has tripled in size and reach since its inception in 2014. Project Manager, Anna Sacks, points out that they introduce new elements each year to grow the campaign. 

“This year, we asked each recipient school to give back to their local community in some shape or form. We want to help learners realise that kindness and generosity does not necessarily come in the form of money or donations. Just by reading at a local creche or assisting the community with collecting rubbish one day a week can change and uplift many lives,” said Sacks.

-Adapted from a press release