It was Mother Theresa who said intense love does not measure, it just gives; Edward Matodzi, a Johannesburg metro police department (JMPD) officer, is a living testimony of this sentiment.
Poor learners from Igugulethu Primary School now have new school shoes and uniforms – all thanks to his great compassion. It was a joyous occasion for 20 leaners from the impoverished community of Vlakfontein, in the south of Johannesburg, when they received new school uniforms and shoes on 25 May.
The smiles on their faces were priceless. It was an emotional yet humbling experience. Most of them come from very poor homes; they walk long distances to school barefoot, whatever the weather.
Matodzi, who does point duty every morning on the main road near the school, helps these children cross the road to get to school safely. He was touched when he saw some of them walking barefoot on cold winter mornings.
Having grown up in dire poverty himself, he was driven to come to the aid of these learners. “I had to do something about the situation, because I know how living in poverty feels like. Children cannot concentrate in class while they are feeling cold,” he said.
He grew up without a father and went to school barefoot until the age of 19. By no means was he going to let these learners go through the same experience. He approached the school’s principal, offering to help. “The principal welcomed my suggestion; he even gave me more names of learners in need of uniforms.”
BUILDING BETTER COMMUNITIES
He also got the green light from his bosses at the metro police department to go ahead with his initiative. Although Matodzi had a burning desire to help the learners, he did not have the means to buy them all new uniforms. A businessman then came to his aid – Shaun Tuna, the owner of Nature’s Harvest Bakery in Nancefield, offered to buy the whole package of school uniforms needed.
“We live in communities and these things happen in front of us every day. We can help build better communities if we look out for one another,” Tuna said, explaining that his family had made it a priority to help the less fortunate, and had been doing so for years.
“It gives me fulfilment to see a child wearing a proper school uniform to school. Every child deserves a fair chance in life; poverty should not be an obstacle to deny children the right to a good learning environment.” Tuna has also promised to build a sports ground in the near the future.
Moved by the kind gesture, the principal of the school, Moleleki Mokgethi, said: “The school is grateful to have man like Edward, who does not let problems continue, but instead he finds solutions.
“This is a poor community and we appreciate such kind initiatives from people wanting to help.”
He explained that the school had planted a food garden to supplement its feeding scheme. “The City of Johannesburg helped us some time ago to set up a food garden, which has been of great help to us. We can’t teach children with empty stomachs.”
The school was built by the Muslim community.
Also present was the spokesperson of the metro police department, Edna Mamonyane, who commended Matodzi for being pro-active. “It makes me proud to be part of JMPD, working with officers who have the wisdom to look at things around them.
“This story tells that I have a bunch of men and women who care for their community. It shows that they are not just officers in uniform. They are fathers, mothers, uncles and members of the community,” she added.
Source: City of Johannesburg