In a shining example to many South Africans of the ordinary citizen’s will to help each other, the pupils of an impoverished Bathurst school have reacted to the drought by raising funds for stricken farmers.
The Bathurst Primary School recently handed over an amount of R1 000 to Agri Eastern Cape councillor Brian Hoole in a rare act of compassion, simply because the pupils felt the urge to do something for the farming community.
While the donation may be viewed as relatively small, many feel the mere act of generosity from a group of children who are living on the breadline themselves is a sign of the spirit of co-operation which exists among ordinary South Africans.
At a time when racist acts often grab the headlines, a group of children in a small village school has provided an example of how South Africans can all work together for the greater good merely through a simple desire to help those in need.
Bathurst Primary teacher Marietjie Bellingan explained the background to the school’s donation.
“Some children expressed concern at seeing farming scenes where animals were dying because of the drought,” said Bellingan. “So one of teachers in Grade 3, Veronica Pienaar, asked them what they thought they could do about it.
“We then spoke to all the pupils in the school and it was agreed that each pupil would try to bring R5, and we aimed for a donation of R500. In the end we collected double that.
“But it was so very special to see these children, who have very little, coming to school with handfuls of coins to make certain they were part of the project.
“Even the Grade R pupils brought money and although they may not have understood the significance of the project, they knew they were trying to save an animal.
“We know it is not a huge amount, but even if we can save one animal we believe it has been worthwhile. It was a big lesson for the children, teaching them to help others, even in a little way.”
For Agri EC councillor Hoole, it was a special moment to receive the donation on behalf of the local agricultural association.
“It really was emotional to see these small children donating money to farmers and we are so appreciative of their efforts and those of the teachers,” said Hoole. “Receiving money from an under-resourced school with so many challenges was very special.”
With farmers facing so many difficulties in these drought-stricken times, the willingness of a small community, with nothing to gain, to assist them can be seen as a boost for their morale and a powerful message about working for a better future of South African society.
Bellingan said the Bathurst Primary School, which was established in 1820, is the oldest school in South Africa to be still standing on its original premises.
The spirit of generosity and community spirit displayed by the class of 2016 is surely something of which their forebears can be extremely proud.