In his matric year, Albert Dove always had a smile on his face, and hope for his future. For this he thanks his school’s feeding scheme, which motivated him to attend extra maths and science classes every weekend last year.
His dedication has paid off handsomely - with six distinctions in maths and computer applications technology.
But Albert, from the Forte High School in Soweto, was most pleased about his perfect score of 100 percent for physical science.
“I feel very good because I had aimed very high,” says the delighted Dobsonville teen, who had pushed himself to attain eight distinctions.
“I knew if I aimed high I was more likely to get something that would satisfy me. I’ve been studying for 100 percent. My best was my science mark. That really excited me. I studied very hard.”
Albert lives with his disabled father, older brother and sister in Dobsonville, but money is tight.
“My big brother and sister are working - that’s where we’re getting our income from, and also from my dad’s pension. But the income isn’t enough for me to have lunch money.”
The Art of Living Foundation, a humanitarian and educational NGO, runs the school feeding scheme, which sustains 100 to 300 pupils like Albert every school day.
But Albert didn’t only enjoy the meals, he volunteered in the kitchen, too.
“I’m very passionate about helping people. When I started volunteering, I was alone. But then my friends joined me and we all liked doing it.”
“We’re so proud of Albert and proud of all the kids,” says Aneshree Naidoo. He volunteers as project co-ordinator for the Youth Village project, an outreach initiative of Art of Living’s sister organisation, the International Association for Human Values.
All eight matrics the project supports have passed.
“The situations some of these kids are in - they are so hungry for knowledge. It’s the simple things they need. We managed to get uniforms for them, open a computer lab and run the feeding scheme.”
Albert has applied for several bursaries, but still has to learn what the future holds.
“I’d love to study at Wits. I’d love to study electrical engineering. If not, then biomedical or chemical engineering.
“But what I really want to do is something called nanotechnology, as I’m really passionate about science. Certain bursaries are still pending. Right now, there is no confirmation.”
There is no question of his drive. Every weekend last year, and during the holidays, he attended extra maths and science classes at the Kutlwanong Centre in Dobsonville. “That helped me get 100 percent in science and maths. It was quite difficult when I had to attend other things at home or school, but by the grace of God I did it.
“My relationship with God is what’s given me strength. Sometimes you don’t have mentors around you. You search everywhere until you find that person, and that’s when your heart is transformed.”
It’s crucial to have school-feeding schemes, says Albert. In his speech for Art of Living’s 2010 Christmas parcel drive, he told the organisation: “We (pupils) who partake in the school’s feeding scheme always have smiles on our faces, hope for our future.
“If I have enough food in my stomach, I will not go out and steal from other children or go and gamble in the streets. I will not go out, looking for a girlfriend or boyfriend to give me money to buy food, so I will have to pay them back.
“I will be able to concentrate at school during lessons and perform well, so that a bright future, full of opportunities, will lie ahead of me.
“I will have enough energy to remain after school, so that - like the other children - I can take part in the sport that I love. I will not run away from home and become a street kid. I will not smoke drugs to keep away the stress of not having food at home.
“I will want to keep it that way by working hard for my future. Most of all, I will always smile, knowing what I ate at Forte High School was delicious and satisfying, and for that I will glorify God. That is why it’s crucial for a school to have a feeding scheme, so the world can become a better place.” - Saturday Star