Pretoria - Schools in Mamelodi township often have to grapple with the problem of girl learners playing truant because of the lack of sanitary towels during their periods.
This was highlighted by community activist Dikeledi Moabelo during an event at Nellmapius Secondary School, held to motivate learners and assure them that they can achieve their goals in life against all odds.
Moabelo, who is the founder of a non-profit organisation, House of LeBron Foundation, also used the opportunity to donate sanitary pads to needy learners.
At least 680 girls, who were part of more than 1 600 learners, were recipients of the donation aimed at restoring their dignity.
Moabelo said the donation would go a long way in discouraging learners from skipping schooling because they were short of sanitary towels.
“We are reaching out to schools in Mamelodi two to three times a year depending on the donations that we would have collected. We have cases of learners who are not coming to school because they don’t have sanitary towels. Even here at Nellmapius teachers would call me to find out if I had collected enough sanitary towels because their learners were in need of them,” she said.
Her charity work includes working with multiple schools in the township, where she is interested in knowing about the behaviour of learners and how they were coping generally in life.
Yesterday’s event also sought to educate learners about the importance of looking for help when they noticed signs of depression. They were told to remain disciplined and true to their goals in order to realise their dreams.
Talking about how she started the initiative, Moabelo said: “I grew up without sanitary towels in the rural areas, and I just told myself that when I grow up I will have an initiative where I am going to help girls not to lack sanitary towels, and be able to attend school every day.”
Her organisation aims to transform communities by providing young people with the necessary tools and equipment to help them further their studies.
“We believe that young people thrive more when their basic needs are met, and when they have access to opportunities for development. The organisation brings motivational speakers for empowerment. We also offer educational programmes and activities, toiletries and stationery,” Moabelo said.
Ngoako Mohale, the school’s head of department for life orientation, said: “It is a serious challenge because we have learners who won’t come to school not only because they are short of sanitary towels, but also because they are hungry. They slept hungry and woke up hungry.”
Mohale said the school was located in the RDP houses settlement, which meant that “75% of this community is unemployed and most of our learners are coming from child-headed families”.
“We can see what they are going through and that is why we are grateful for this kind of support,” he said.
He said the school’s effort to alleviate the plight of learners was through constant communication with charitable organisations, which also include the churches.
The school has social workers working from its premises hand-in-hand with teachers.
“We have a database that we have created that consists of learners who are needy. Every time we receive anything we make sure that they are our priorities,” Mohale said.