8 December 2023

By Al Qalam Correspondent

More than 800 of South Africa’s most vulnerable and severely disadvantaged learners in three cities across the country have for the first time been able to wear school shoes to class, thanks to a generous donation by Al-Baraka Bank.

Al Baraka Bank’s national school shoe distribution initiative is designed to restore a degree of dignity to destitute youngsters by putting brand new shoes on their feet.

Commenting on its 2021 shoe distribution programme, Al Baraka Bank’s

Sustainability and Social Responsibility Officer, Fathima Mohamed, said: “The prevailing high levels of unemployment, exacerbated by the negative economic effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, means that increasing numbers of parents are simply unable to afford the cost of school shoes for their children.”

She added that although parents clearly care about their children and are desperate for them to have a proper education, in many instances they are dependent on grants just to survive, meaning the cost of basic schooling needs is beyond battling parents.

“Such levels of poverty pose massive socio-economic problems for South Africa and it is our belief that business has a role to play in working towards the eradication of poverty here. Education is critically important and we cannot stand by as learners drop-out because they do not have appropriate school-wear,” she said.

The bank’s shoe drive, providing footwear for more than 800 needy youngsters, will make a telling difference in the lives of youngsters who don’t know what it is to wear shoes, giving them back dignity and enabling them to better focus on their lessons.

“We have identified 804 particularly deserving learners at six KwaZulu-Natal schools, two Cape Town schools and one Johannesburg school and have made new school shoes available to each of them,” said Ms Mohamed.

The bank presented new shoes to 300 learners at Olwasini Primary School; Siyathokoza Primary School; Zembeni Primary School; Isulethu Primary School; Ndaya Primary School and Southern Africa Dawah Network.

In addition, 100 pairs were provided to learners attending AZ Berman School and 104 at Leadership School in Cape Town, whilst 300 pairs were donated to learners at Johannesburg’s Solwezi Primary School.

Mohamed stressed: “Al Baraka Bank acknowledges that this country faces seemingly overwhelming social challenges and we are, therefore, intent on employing our long-standing corporate social investment programme to make a positive impact, albeit small, on poverty, thus assisting the disadvantaged, regardless of race, religion or gender.”

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