For a child with no shoes and no jersey to wear on a cold winter day, going to school can be an unpleasant task that one is not too keen on. This is the situation for many learners attending one primary school at Somntongo in Lavumisa; one of the most poverty stricken communities south of Eswatini.
For 85 learners, however, the coming winter will be quite different, thanks to a donation of SZL 56,100 (approximately USD 3,600) from First National Bank (FNB) Eswatini. The donation, made through World Vision, follows a request made to the bank by the humanitarian organisation through its local resource mobilisation department.
Receiving the donation at a presentation ceremony held at World Vision's offices in Mbabane, school Principal Doris Malinga said: “We are so glad to receive this donation because we are struggling in that community; the children come from far places on foot, without shoes.”
Malinga said that the school administration could not even be strict or check school uniform because they knew that most of the children hardly had anything to eat at home, so proper uniform was something parents or caregivers could not even afford.
The primary school is a rural school situated at Lavumisa, about 176 km from the capital city, Mbabane. This is an area where a lot of families live below the poverty line. Children have to walk long distances to school barefoot and, often, on empty stomachs due to lack of food and money to cover their basic needs at home.
Malinga further elaborated that even if community members tried to make ends meet through farming, their efforts became useless because of the very harsh sun that often destroys their crops in that area.
A representative of the FNB Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Rejoice Nkambule, said the situation deeply touched them as an organisation when World Vision approached them for the partnership. “When we received this request from World Vision to support the children of Somntongo area, we were deeply touched by the dire situation and the need of the students there. The students are nestled within a community where their basic needs, including water, food and clothing, are scarce", she said.
World Vision's National Director for Eswatini, Tinah Mukunda, thanked FNB Eswatini for the support extended to the most vulnerable children through this partnership. “It’s exciting to have the partnership of FNB, which is generated from within the country, and will ease the challenges that children face as they go to school on a daily basis. This will help enable them to focus better on their studies to obtain good results at the end of the year”, she said.
Mukunda further stated that support from local donors was something that World Vision was looking to increase, as it had mostly been relying on donors outside Eswatini and Africa to keep doing the work done in the various areas of the country. She added that, having operated in Eswatini for 30 years, World Vision now hopes to get more support from local organisations and individuals in supporting the country’s most vulnerable communities.