A friend who lives in Italy part-time started an initiative 7 years ago whereby she finds Italian sponsors to support needy children at Hyde Park Primary School in Park wood Estate. This has grown steadily and thanks to their generosity she is able to pay their school fees, buy school and casual clothes, stationery, shoes, sports goods and even groceries. For the past 3 years she has taken them on an outing (Kirstenbosch, the Aquarium and Green Point Park) which has undoubtedly been the highlight of their year. In this way they discover the beauty of their city which lies outside their dismal surroundings. During a recent hook-up we decided to join forces with her and combine our community orientated drive by supplying the school regularly with all our fresh food that is not used/left over from catering, as well as hearty soups and stews in winter.

The school caters for the severely disadvantaged children of Park wood Estate, an area where crime, substance abuse and unemployment are rife. Many of the children are victims of child abuse – physical as well as sexual and emotional. Under these circumstances it is a daunting task for teachers to equip the children for the future. They have to deal with children whose only daily meal is received at school; children who have been abused so often that they have become adults in a child’s body; children who live 10 to 15 people in a one-roomed house; children who have suffered so much in their young lives that they have become immune to the abuse which they suffer daily.

The dedicated staff has risen to the challenge and have created an environment which is conducive to meaningful teaching and learning. An effective outreach programme renders support to parents and children in need. Their aim is to create a safe and secure environment in which every child can be developed to his/her full potential despite severe financial constraints. Amongst their achievements the school has been identified as a “Centre of Excellence” by the Khanya Foundation and has won an award from the SAPS for being the neatest and best disciplined school in the Grassy Park/Lotus River/Parkwood Estate area. They are actively involved in a variety of extra-mural activities, not only pursuing academic excellence, but creating opportunities to educate the children holistically.

The school prides itself in the fact that, despite all the odds stacked against them, the children’s skills and talents are developed as far as they possibly can. They are positive about the future and believe that they can make a difference. This is reflected in their motto: “We build the future”.