Growing up, Lelethu Kenny Tukuvana had to walk to school barefoot – something he vowed no other child should have to experience.
And for two years, the Nkwezana-born Tukuvana, 30, has been doing his bit by donating shoes to needy children from six schools. To date he has donated more than 2000 pairs of shoes.
He does the donations through what he calls the uniform project, under the Friends of Chintsa initiative, and also donates other school items and sanitary towels.
“This project was motivated by my background and I reflected on why I can’t help a child in need go to school when I know how it makes you feel. Missing school can be as a result of anything, but it mustn’t be because of school shoes.
“I want to help and contribute wherever I can to the future of the children,” he said.
The project shared a common goal with former Merrifield teacher Mary Sanfilippo, and they merged. She said: “I wanted to do this project and someone referred me to Kenny, who already has this project. You would find that some of the children are not wearing the right school shoes, so there was a definite need for this project.
“He always goes out of his way to help others. He has a good reputation here.
“The uniform project is one of many things he does in the community.”
Every Wednesday, Tukuvana and his friend, Lee-Anne Kessler, also hand out sandwich packs at Magozo Park farm to about 30 people. The car wash owner and his friends raised about R7000 in the Raise Funds for School 300km walk from Crossways to Butterworth and back to Chintsa for school uniforms last year.
Bulurha Farm School principal Fanisile Madwara heaped praise on the do-gooder’s contribution to his school.
“Pastor [Kenny] grew up in the farms and he knows the struggle they face. He approached the school and asked us to identify the destitute children so he can deliver shoes for them together with Mary.
“In 2016 they donated takkies to some of the children. He is helpful to our school.
“We are excited because even on July 18 we are expecting him as he promised that they will bring shoes for the entire school,” he said.
Just like many NGOs, their common challenge is funding, but they soldier on with their good deeds.
Tukuvana said if parents could prioritise school needs first it would make a big difference in the children’s lives.
“I wish parents would start with school things. Even in December, before buying Christmas clothes they need to start with buying school items so that children do not feel left out at school because they do not have shoes or other school clothing.
“I know how it is. An incomplete uniform affects your self- esteem.”
Tukwana said he also keeps sanitary towels at his workplace so whoever is in need he can easily supply them with a packet.