Rhodes student restores dignity with toiletry packs

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FORMER Stirling High School pupil Alirian Gibson is helping many students through her Dignity Drive at Rhodes University.

HELPING THOSE IN NEED: Dignity Drive founder Alirian Gibson, left, with regular donor and fellow Rhodes University student Kate Solomons, show some of the toiletry packs that they put together for needy students on financial aid Picture: SUPPLIED

The psychology honours student started the donation-run organisation in conjunction with the university’s Give 5 campaign.

Give 5 aims to raise funds for the Pocket Money Fund which aids students on financial aid who do not have enough money to buy essentials with an amount of R170 per month for 10 months of the year.

As an added aid, the Dignity Drive aims to give these students dignity by collecting sanitary and toiletry items as donations and putting the products into basic toiletry packs which are then available for collection at the Alumni building.

“I came across a Rhodes Confession in which a student was asking for help with regard to basic toiletries. It really had an impact on me.

“We often take things for granted, we don’t even notice the dignity we have.

“It broke my heart that there are individuals out there who cannot afford to even have the most basic dignity,” she said.

Gibson’s project started out very small as she helped one or two individuals, but it quickly grew and the need for basic toiletries became greater. She extended the Dignity Drive to Facebook, in the hope of further donations from the public.

“I am passionate about helping people and trying to make a difference in at least one person’s life,” said Gibson.

Foundation a lifeline for girls

Relying solely on donations from fellow students and individuals, the Dignity Drive caters for both male and female students. Each pack contains basic toiletries, including soap, deodorant, toothpaste, a toothbrush, body cream, a pack of pads for the women’s packs and a razor and shaving cream for the men’s packs.

Over the past year, second-year law student Austin Mtole Ndyetabula has become very involved in the project. As head student of the Chris Hani residence, Ndyetabula recently used one of the residence’s fundraising events to raise money for the project.

In total, R1500 was raised and spent on toiletries for the drive.

“The support the Dignity Drive has received is phenomenal, one student even donated Nescafe, breakfast biscuits, rooibos tea and a whole lot of awesome exam snacks for those in need during the last term,” said Gibson.

Though in her final year of study at Rhodes, Gibson is confident that the project will carry on successfully.

“Austin has shown a great interest in the drive and has contributed greatly to it. When I leave at the end of the year, the project will continue in his capable hands.”

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