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Warmth for young children

Many South Africans will enthusiastically embrace the warmth of their homes during the coming winter months, but for some less fortunate people, June heralds a battle of survival against the bitter cold of winter.

21 June 2011 | Marcelle Muller

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While many South Africans enthusiastically embrace the warmth of their homes during the winter months, there are less fortunate people who battle for survival against the bitter cold.

Recently, a special discount by Pick n Pay afforded the non-profit organisation, The Ukajede Foundation, the opportunity to purchase 504 blankets for young children from several informal settlements in the Boksburg area.

The Ukajede Foundation - an acronym for the five informal settlements in which it operates (Ukana, Kanana, Angelo, Jerusalem and Delmore) - supports nine crŠches in this area by supplying each school with the means to prepare a warm meal for each child daily, stationery, cleaning material and maintenance assistance.

These settlements have an estimated total population of 80 000 inhabitants living in shacks without any sewerage, electricity, running water, garbage collection, health care or schools.

A large percentage of the shacks house families with no adults.

The eldest child, usually not older than 10 years of age, has to try to find food and also protect the younger children.

Members of the ABSA graduate programme, who are committed to making a difference through a "Give Back" committee, have also been hard at work to raise funds for Ukajede and have reached their target of R10 000 recently.

"Keeping warm during winter is difficult for those less fortunate than us. We'd like to thank the Ukajede Foundation for their hard work in ensuring that these children are well-equipped for the bitterly cold months which are usually experienced in this informal settlement," said Pick n Pay spokesman, Tamra Veley.

The blankets were recently handed out to at least 385 school-going children between the ages of three and six years old who were also presented with a track suit jacket provided by web-hosting company, Ensync.

The presentation was held at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre where the children were invited to watch a movie and receive their winter warmers.

The remainder of the blankets and jackets would be given to children below the age of three.

"As winter draws nearer and the barometer drops so the conditions in the crŠches worsen. Getting to school to attend a formal class is near impossible due to the distraction of cold and hunger. As electric heaters are not an option and paraffin gas stoves are unsafe, we undertook to provide a blanket and tracksuit jackets for each child," Deidre Jonker, project co-ordinator for the Ukajede Foundation, said.

"We hope that a warm tummy and some warmth inside and out with a meal and blanket will help a bit towards alleviating some of the home responsibilities and help them to concentrate on their lessons."



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