Not having school shoes could affect a learner’s academic output and in some cases, they could become victims of bullying. Matteus Maholland, the head boy of Hochland High School, said this during the recent launch of ‘Project Never Walk Alone’ initiated by local businessman and MTC executive, Tim Ekandjo.
“This learner will be sitting in class, looking and admiring other learners’ shoes – whether it is Toughees, Grasshoppers – because they don’t have any shoes to wear,” he said. Maholland said not having shoes already creates a platform for bullies to prey on such a learner, which, in turn, leads to the learner feeling less than their worth, and ultimately contributes to the learner dropping out of school.
“To some extent, these learners are bullied. This is the harsh reality; something as small as (lack of) school shoes can have an impact on each learner. There is an academic impact that manifests when learners don’t have shoes. “Many don’t focus in class lessons because all they are thinking about are these shoes. I want to see this project go to its fullest capacity and help learners,” stated Maholland.
‘Project Never Walk Alone’ was received well by the public and pledges are rolling in from corporates to support the programme of making sure learners who have never owned a pair, get to experience having one. On his part, Ekandjo said: “The project was inspired by the Namibian child who we have forgotten; who walk barefoot every day and who has never owned a pair of shoes in their lifetime.”
It will be managed by a board of directors, a CEO and a competent group of young, experienced individuals who will work as volunteers. ‘Project Never Walk Alone’ has entered into a partnership agreement with Shilongo Leather Works Cc, a 100% Namibian owned company, which will make the shoes of the project. The shoes are 100% leather made with 80% of the material sourced in Namibia and have a lifespan of more than five years. Shilongo Leather has committed to giving the project 35% discount for every shoe bought.It aims to raise N$2 million per annum, over the next five years to provide at least 6 000 children with brand new shoes across the country.