St John’s College Matric Class of 2020 pays it Forward

In October 2019, the St John’s College Matric class began fundraising for their Matric Dance event. With the continual extensions to the lockdown and the varying regulations put in place, it became clear that a traditional Matric Dance that was both safe and legal was impossible. While they decided to pay the funds forward, they didn’t want only to hand over a check to a needy charity. 

Instead, the Matric Dance Committee created Legacy Day 2020. On Saturday 5 September, in collaboration with the Kolisi Foundation and Trevor Noah Foundation, the students celebrated the day by sponsoring and packing food parcels for 128 families, representing the 2020 Class of 128 matric students. Knowing that the support will go a long way towards helping vulnerable students and their families who have financially suffered as a result of the pandemic, the Trevor Noah Foundation topped up the contribution to 150 food parcels.

St John’s College, located in the leafy Johannesburg suburbs of Houghton, is a world-class, all-boys private school. As a Legacy Day distribution partner, we linked St John’s College with Eqinisweni Secondary, our Khulani School located in Thembisa, a township in between Johannesburg and Pretoria. On Monday, 7 September, Eqinisweni hosted a delegation of St John’s College students, who assisted with the on-the-ground distribution of food parcels to families in the Ivory Park community.

Eqinisweni Principal Kunene welcomed the visiting students and shared stark realities faced by the school and surrounding community – an unemployment rate of 65% and how an overcrowded school impedes access to quality education during COVID. For a school like Eqinisweni with 2,300 students and a lack of space, to ensure social distancing, some students only come to school once per week. 

“From packing food packages at St. John’s on Saturday to handing them over at Eqinisweni on Monday, the experience around Legacy Day was an incredibly valuable one. This year has shown us that there is so much that we can do beyond ourselves, and I think what Saturday turned into was genuine evidence of that. We drove away from Eqinisweni on Monday with the sense that our efforts in planning the day contributed to a tangible impact on the lives of these families and that, most especially for the matrics of 2020, we took a step in constructing and leaving a truly memorable legacy. I genuinely believe that when all who were involved look back on Legacy day sometime in the distant future, they will be reminded of a meaningful, special, and invaluable experience.”

– Sazi Bongwe, St John’s College

“It was an incredible experience. We saw the obvious disparity in wealth between the St John’s community and that of Eqinisweni (a humbling observation), and so the thought that we’re able to alleviate some of that hardship through our donation is a comforting one. If there’s anything I’d hope to see come out of this, it’s that other privileged schools and communities be inspired to help those less fortunate as well. It was an honour to be part of the process, and I hope to see the same sentiment carried through into the future.” 

– Alexander Sittmann, St John’s College

We often forget the impact of cultural exchanges, but it was exciting to watch these young peoples’ worlds meet. From the St John’s College boys carrying sacks of maize for Gogos (grandmas) to the Eqinisweni student leaders proudly giving a tour of their school, we know it was a memorable day for both. And most importantly, we ensured 150 families are food secure for the next month during this time of need!

We would like to express words of gratitude for the quality of food parcel given to our children on the 7th of September 2020. The food parcels have helped poverty-stricken families, some of which are children-headed families. Thank you for partnering with us to try and address the problems that are facing our society.

– Principal Kunene, Eqinisweni Secondary School

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