How Poverty affects YOU…
As parents, aunts and uncles, we strive to give the best to the children in our lives. From an early age we strive to ensure they have the best possible education. We do this by ensuring they receive the best preschool care to build a solid foundation on which they are able to build their academic futures. We hire nannies, au-pairs or choose their daycare facility with the utmost care… We give them everything they need to get through school. We have healthy meals, ensure good sleep routines, we make sure they do their homework and we hire tutors for the subjects they cannot master. We know that we are responsible for their development and we want them to grow up to be the best they can possibly be.
But is that where our responsibility ends? With our children?
It is one thing to prepare our children to be economically active, independent adults but what about the economic climate they will inherit?
Poverty affects us all, every day.
It affects us as citizens of a country with high unemployment, a country with severe socio-economic ills such as gangsterism, high crime rates, exceeding dependency on Government funding – and the plasters that patch those issues are all purchased with our tax money. Tax money that could be used for free education for all if there are fewer issues to solve…
It is a well known fact that the school attendance, school pass rates and school completion rates in South Africa are very poor. Children living in squatter camps often have limited access to even the poorest of schools where they are only able to attend if their parents wake and prepare them in time for the 6am bus that transports them to school.
Coupled with poor nutrition, no access to preschool stimulation, poor language and numeric development and lack of the most basic of services such as primary healthcare, a simple task such as waking up for school is a gigantic challenge for many children living in South Africa.
In many of the settlements around Cape Town, there is no electricity to heat water or cook food, clothes are washed by hand and dried outside. In the event of rain, there are no tumble driers to speed up the drying of school uniforms. In order to bath, water must be fetched, heated on a fire outside and then poured into a basin in the house, a task that requires reasonable time.
Parents cannot afford even the most basic of stationery and teachers are slowed in classes that are sometimes at double capacity while children struggle to complete tasks as they borrow stationery from the few classmates who may have been able to afford the required pens, pencils, scissors, glue and so forth… Some of the farm schools around Cape Town have classrooms that teach two grades simultaneously in a single lesson with a single teacher.
And how does one do homework when the entire family shares a single roomed shack with no light, no desk and no table to write at? When parents themselves have very limited education, if any?
Most of our children have mastered an Ipad by the time they start primary school, technology is not something they are unfamiliar with. Many high school children living in poverty have never even seen a library nor touched a computer. They do not own a single book besides for those used in their classrooms, often shared between students.
So how do we fix this?
We start by breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. It is a fact that poverty can be decreased by increasing the level of education. Educated people are economically active, they are proud of their accomplishments; they have fewer children and make smarter choices. They can contribute in different aspects of life and are able to make educated decisions in politics rather than relying on the opinions of their leaders. It leads to lower birth rates, lower crime rates, better political environments, higher GDP and lower unemployment. It is the basis for all stable economies – something we all wish for our children.
How do we do this?
By taking an active position in the education of those children our school system is failing, by contributing to charities who are actively working towards the education of the underprivileged and by helping those who cannot help themselves.
Many charities have preschools for the less fortunate which assists in preparing children to be more academically capable once they enter the public school system, others run feeding schemes to ensure children have full tummies to aid in their concentration in classrooms. Some charities help children after school with homework and have programs that encourage children to stay in school.
It is easy to say that it is the fault of Government that children are not educated properly, but what are we as citizens doing to ensure the children of today are able to become the leaders of tomorrow?
Many of us struggle to make ends meet but did you know that all registered charities are able to offer you a Section 18a tax deductible certificate for any donations you offer, whether those donations are made in cash or in items purchased?
You are able to claim up to 10% of your annual income made as donations back from SARS when you complete your annual tax return. Companies are also able to claim tax as well as BEE benefits from donating to charities, so really, we are donating money that we can claim back. For many of us running our own businesses, donating to charities is a great way to increase our BEE profile which in turn brings added benefits to us as business owners.
When choosing a charity to support, it is important to look at a few things:
Transparency – is your chosen charity prepared to show you exactly how and where your hard earned money is spent? Can they show you receipts for the items they purchase with your money? It is common practice for charities to use 10% for administrative costs. We may not like that but it is impossible for charities to render service to the less fortunate if they cannot put petrol in their vehicles, if they cannot pay the electricity account or cover the running costs of the organisation – but not all Non-profit organisations are run with good financial control. Make sure your chosen charity runs efficiently and above board.
Sustainability – How long have they operated? What is the work experience of those working for them? Do they have a high staff turn-over? Are the projects they run providing the desired outcome? Can they tell you how they have grown in their success from the day the opened to present? Do they exhibit true passion for their cause?
Do they accept items, time or only cash? All non-profit organisation need money but do they accept material donations and what do they do with the items they receive? Is it going to those who need it most? Do they welcome assistance from individuals willing to give them their time? If you are unable to make financial contributions, do they still welcome your help?
The fact of the matter is, it is all of our responsibility to build a better country – a better world – for our children by building a better future for ALL children.
So research charities in your area; start at your own doorstep and help the children become all that they can – after all, they will determine what kind of country you spend your golden years in…
If you wish to get involved, please feel free to contact me as our charity is active in both preschool care, feeding of children and youth development including soccer projects as well as after care for school children. We also do humanitarian work including helping HIV/AIDS and TB patients, caring for the elderly, community upliftment programs and building homes for those living in bush settlements on the dumpsite. All second hand donations are welcome too!
If you would like to make a financial donation, please click here for our donations page