Putting foot to create change
Durban - Some northern KZN towns are a distance apart, which saw six determined walkers having to dig deep to finish each day's journey – often racking up to 60km a day.
Yamkela Kiyane, Samu Ndlovu, Bakgadi Mampho, Genehelo Mofokeng and Khanyisa Damoyi, led by Jabelane Thabethe, took on the Walk for Change initiative which saw the team walking from Johannesburg to Durban in 15 days.
Arriving in Durban on Thursday, Thabethe said that while their main goal was to provide school essentials and mobile libraries for disadvantaged pupils, the walk was also in line with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) which started on Wednesday.
"There is another pandemic in this country which is called gender-based violence. As a team, we want to stand up and say ’no’," said Thabethe.
He said the main challenges the team faced during their 620km walk were blisters and running out of supplies, especially food and water on some days.
"And once we got to northern KwaZulu-Natal where towns are far apart, some days we had to cover up to 60km, it was a very tough walk,“ he said, adding that residents would often join in the walk as they got near a town, which gave them heart to continue.
Walk For Change team member Bakgadi Mampho said they would get on the road every day at 7.30am.
"Definitely the main challenge was blisters. We also spent one night sleeping in a police station as our planned accommodation pulled out," she said.
Ready to welcome the team on the steps of Durban City Hall, SA house music celeb Holly Rey said young people who stood against gender-based violence sent a powerful message.
"I am really proud of these young people for standing up for what they believe in and walking more than 500km," she said.
Also on hand to welcome the team was eThekwini councillor Mpume Sithole, who said: "It’s very encouraging to see young people standing up against GBV and femicide. Gender-based violence affects mainly young women, often those in tertiary institutions and, instead of coming home with a degree or a certificate, they come home in a coffin.
"It's also good to see young men saying 'not in my name'," said Sithole, challenging Durbanites to walk from Durban to Johannesburg to show their stand against GBV.
Thabethere runs the NGO Hope for Africa under which the Walk for Change initiative falls. He is also part of a youth network, Activate Change Drivers, which develops young people in training, leadership and social entrepreneurship. The Walk For Change Team are all change activators.
He said he started his NGO four years ago after seeing the need among children for basic school necessities. Every year, they do a 40-day barefoot walk and have helped more than 4 500 children in that time.
"We are doing this walk to raise money and donations for school shoes, school uniforms, stationery, mobile libraries and feminine hygiene products. And this walk was with our shoes on," he said.
The Independent on Saturday