Inspired by a pair of shoes

In the mountains…

In the mountains Dumisa shared his story. In the shadow of our beloved and craggy mountains, this young Xhosa man risked sharing his pain – making himself vulnerable and in so doing strengthening a resolve to create positive impact for his community, his people.

A father who told his son to leave school to herd the cattle. A boy who believed in his intelligence, who ran from home to complete his education. A mother who quietly supported.

The boy moving towards man, excelling at school, at sport. The unfolding journey of becoming who he was born to be.

A particular memory. A new school term. Dumisa having no school shoes. Experience of shame. No shoes, what would his peers say, what would his teachers say? Of taking an old pair of trainers, painting them black.

“It was the best I could do. I had to have school shoes!”, the voice of Dumisa echoes in the mountain. “Every child should have school shoes.”

Living the story forward…

An email: “Hi Mark, I am starting a project to distribute school shoes to young girls at the school in my village. Can Educo help me?”

Dumisa wrote a letter, appealing for assistance, explaining why shoes were so important. “The first children to drop out of school are the girls. We need to make sure that they get an education.”

The letter went out. One of our international participants caught the story. Pam, a science teacher from Pennsylvania, shared the story with her church.

The unfolding of the story… well… in December Dumisa went home, and at a ceremony with the Elders of his community distributed over fifty pairs of shoes.

The story doesn’t end there. During this year, 2013, Dumisa has grown his project. Still with a central theme around ensuring school shoes are provided to children. He has now added a mentorship system to support the school learners in achieving success at school.

And I promise you, the story won’t end there either!

To add…

Dumisa is an example of potential lived in a young South African. I have yet to meet a young person who does not have this potential. Our society has to create increasing spaces to allow this potential to be lived.

I applaud Dumisa for the telling of his story, it took courage. And in his words and emotions there was never the vaguest expression of disrespect to his family. I honour him for this.

Dreams and vision can be seeding opportunities for bigger dreams, bigger visions. Rumour has it from the Sihambela Phambili community that plans are afoot to build a school in the Eastern Cape. And that, dear reader, is how we build a better world!