Principal Gavin Alkana, of Hillwood Primary School in Lavender Hill, says pupils are still using chairs given to the school when it first opened 41 years ago in 1977.
Several years ago, through a Partners for Possibility Programme (PfP), Alkana was introduced to Ian Macdonald, a father and businessman from Noordhoek.
“He partnered with us to help us improve school life for the teachers and learners. In 2017, he helped raise R35 000 to refurbish the staff room to improve morale among teachers,” Alkana says.
In February, Ian tragically died in a head-on collision, leaving the staff and learners devastated, Alkana says.
“We started out as partners, but we became friends and then brothers. His death was a blow for us because he did so much and he was a part of our family.”
Ian’s friend, Rob Broster, then set up a campaign on crowd- funding platform, BackaBuddy, to continue Ian’s work and to honour a friendship spanning more than 25 years.
“Ian didn’t just talk about what must be done. He just did it. Besides his career he has always strongly argued for making a difference and for using privilege and network for positive change,” says Rob.
On 15 March, a campaign to raise R90 000 to refurbish four Grade 1 classrooms at Hillwood kicked off and within 24 hours, over R32 000 was raised.
In less than a month they raised over R130 000 with contributions from more than 60 donors.
Alkana says over the June school holidays, work will commence to repair broken windows, desks, chairs and flooring.
“Due to vandalism, many of the windows don’t open and the door has to be open for ventilation. Some of the chairs the children are sitting on were here when the school first opened in 1977,” he says.
“This is a no-fees school and many of our children come from very poor backgrounds. They are raised in the dreary environment in Lavender Hill and then come to school and it is the same. We want to give them a chance to be inspired.”
* To donate, visit www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/ian-macdonald-hillwood-primary.