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PICS: Given the Giver warms hearts with uniforms and 100 pairs of school shoes for desperate learners in Benoni

The principal of Etwatwa Secondary School in Benoni, Farirayi Rufetu, left, receives a donation of school shoes from Gauteng businessman and philanthropist Given Muhlarhi, popularly referred to as Given the Giver on social media. Picture: Supplied

The principal of Etwatwa Secondary School in Benoni, Farirayi Rufetu, left, receives a donation of school shoes from Gauteng businessman and philanthropist Given Muhlarhi, popularly referred to as Given the Giver on social media. Picture: Supplied

Published May 11, 2022

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Pretoria – The principal of Etwatwa Secondary School in Benoni, Farirayi Rufetu, could not believe his eyes when an entourage led by well-known businessman and philanthropist Given Muhlarhi, popularly referred to as Given the Giver on social media, arrived at his underprivileged school bearing school shoes for more than 100 learners on Tuesday.

Rufetu told IOL that his institution in the Etwatwa section of Benoni was “a no-fee public school” which indicates the economic situation of parents of children at the school, which is surrounded by informal settlements.

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“We have lots of parents that are not working. Most of the children we have here are close to destitution. We have an enrolment of about 1 100 learners and we are feeding all those learners,” said Rufetu.

Etwatwa Secondary School in Benoni received a donation of school shoes from Gauteng businessman and philanthropist Given Muhlarhi. Picture: Supplied

“Most of these learners are coming from informal settlements, some as far as 20 or 30km away. When they get a donation of shoes, or any clothes for that matter, it really improves their attendance at school. It also improves their concentration in class, especially now we are going towards winter.”

The principal, who has been in charge of the school for more than nine years, said the gesture made him “really, really happy”.

“We are also really desperate for any kind of donation, from more shoes to even internet access. We cannot afford it at this no-fee school where parents donate R150 per year, which translates to about R10 per month. Out of the 1 100 parents here, only 50% give those donations,” he said.

Rufetu said he could relate to the plight of the children under his care, having owned his first pair of shoes when he was doing the equivalent of Grade 8.

Muhlarhi told IOL that he was drawn to the school by the plight of a 15-year-old schoolgirl whom he had helped to move to Etwatwa Secondary School because of family disputes which he said were affecting her.

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The identity of the learner is withheld to protect her privacy.

A girl at Etwatwa Secondary School in Benoni received school uniforms while other learners at the school benefited from 100 pairs of school shoes donated by Gauteng businessman and philanthropist Given Muhlarhi, popularly referred to as Given the Giver on social media. Picture: Supplied

“The story of this child touched me a lot, because living among the black community, I know that there are a lot of kids that are suffering from this kind of squabbles. They say when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. It is the child who suffers from what is going on in the family,” said Muhlarhi.

“It pains me a lot. This is an innocent child who has been caught up in the storm of a family dispute.”

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There were allegations of abuse and, tipped off by community members, Muhlarhi decided to intervene and help move the learner into a new environment and buy her the essentials, including uniforms for her new school.

While interacting with the Etwatwa Secondary School, the businessman “saw the massive need and decided that the school also has to benefit by getting 100 pairs of shoes for other learners”.

A girl at Etwatwa Secondary School in Benoni received school uniforms while other learners at the school benefited from 100 pairs of school shoes donated by Gauteng businessman and philanthropist Given Muhlarhi, popularly referred to as Given the Giver on social media. Picture: Supplied

Last year, Muhlarhi took part in the Barefoot Walk in Limpopo, the brainchild of Hope For Africa, and provided hundreds of pairs of school shoes for learners from impoverished households at Shikhati and Khujwana primary schools in Tzaneen.

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Chief Livhuwani Matsila, of the Matsila Royal House in Limpopo, Hope for Africa chief executive Hope Thabethe, and Limpopo education chief director Matthew Mhlongo and others joined Ekurhuleni-based businessman Given Muhlarhi in donating hundreds of pairs of school shoes to learners at Shikhati and Khujwana primary schools in Tzaneen last year. Picture: File/ Given The Giver Foundation

At the time, chief executive of Hope For Africa Hope Thabethe said his campaign, characterised by walking barefoot for 40 days, culminated in the handover of the school shoes to needy learners.

IOL

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