Manchester United Foundation has donated hundreds of items of football kit for Windermere School’s recent trip to South Africa and in doing so has brought a smile to some of the poorest children in South Africa.
Once a year, Windermere School takes a group of students to South Africa to help pupils at Tiger Kloof School with their community projects. Tiger Kloof, a school situated in the North West Province of South Africa, and Windermere School, have enjoyed a close working partnership since 2003. Both schools believe strongly in educating their students about the importance of community and service, ensuring that all are involved in local projects as part of their curriculum.
This year there were a few extra suitcases required as Manchester United Foundation very kindly donated a large number of football kits for the children living in the local townships. In fact, there were over 100 items including football shirts, t-shirts, baby clothes and other assorted goodies. They filled the seats in the school’s spacious auditorium – Crampton Hall – and will fulfil a desperate need for clothing in the areas surrounding Tiger Kloof.
Jo Parry, Deputy Head at Windermere School, says, “This is an incredibly generous gift from Manchester United Foundation and it brought smiles to hundreds of very disadvantaged children. As Nelson Mandela said – “Sport has the power to inspire and unite people. In Africa, soccer enjoys great popularity and has a particular place in the hearts of people.” – so it goes without saying the enormous joy these kits brought to the communities.”
John Shiels, Chief Executive at Manchester United Foundation, adds, “Manchester United Foundation is pleased to support Windermere School with this project. It is one of those magical win, win situations. For the children in South Africa to receive a gift is magical, but to empower the pupils of Windermere School to give the gift is a life changing message that we hope will stay with them for forever.”
Tiger Kloof School serves a largely disadvantaged community, so its pupils know well the consequences of poverty and the importance of giving something back. There is a commitment to not only helping the local townships, but also to caring for the harsh but beautiful environment. The Windermere School pupils who are lucky enough to make the trip to South Africa work alongside their Tiger Kloof counterparts on a number of their projects.
The Hem Soup Kitchen is one project into which the Windermere School pupils have thrown themselves wholeheartedly. Open three days a week, this facility feeds the poorest children in the village – up to 1200 children each week. As well as preparing the food and joining in with the young children’s game, the Windermere School pupils also manned all three sessions during the course of their week-long stay, providing the children with nutritious meals, such as Epap, a pre-cooked porridge powder drink made from whole grain maize and soya bean, with added vitamins and minerals.
Following their meal, every child was given at least one item of clothing kindly donated by the Windermere Community and of course, Manchester United Foundation. Each session ended with the children leaving in new clothes, with full tummies and thankful for the opportunity to have some time just to be a child – running, jumping, singing and shouting with their friends.
Another project where the Windermere School pupils get involved is the Thussanang Disabled Centre, a unique facility in Huhudi providing a safe place for about forty children of all ages to go each morning. One of the classrooms, intended for use by the older students who attend the centre, required a major refurbishment. Requiring a more mature feel for its pupils, the walls were given a very plain makeover, and in one corner one of the pupils expertly painted a tree to signify Windermere School and Thussanang growing together.
The centre is a happy place for the local children, somewhere they can come to learn with safe, open spaces for them to play. The Windermere School pupils worked with the children at Thussanang to help take their education forward. Just by taking the time to play and give them the much needed attention that these children often do not get, brings them immense joy.
Again, through the generosity of the Windermere School community and Manchester United Foundation, the children were given new clothes and in most cases, a new hand knitted woolly hat.
During the course of the trip, the Windermere School pupils discovered that funding for the centre has been slashed, meaning food is in short supply. The money raised to date will supply enough food until the end of August. However, on hearing the disappointing news about the funding, the Windermere School pupils have vowed to raise enough money to provide food for the facility for the next twelve months.
Windermere School holds several events over the course of the year to raise money for Tiger Kloof and the surrounding community, the most recent being a fundraising meal held at Kendal College. The evening included a three course meal, a raffle and a silent auction, with prizes including a round of golf for four at Silverdale Golf Club; a Merrell clothing package; a mud therapy session for two at the Daffodil Hotel in Grasmere; and dinner, bed and breakfast in one of the new spa suites at the Gilpin Hotel. This was a very successful evening, raising almost £3000 which is enough to support the Hem Soup Kitchen for another year.
Adds Jo Parry, “Every year I continue to be amazed by what these young people can achieve when they really have a passion for a project. Years ago this was rather flippantly called ‘Life Change South Africa’ but today I feel there could not be a better title; this project really does change lives. Not just those of the children in the township, but also of our wonderful Windermere School students.”
Notes to editors:
Manchester United Foundation uses football to engage and inspire young people to build a better life for themselves and unite the communities in which they live. Dedicated staff deliver football coaching, educational programmes and personal development, providing young people with opportunities to change their lives for the better.
Find out more: www.mufoundation.org