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Monday, January 12, 2009

S. African Tow Truck Operators' Good Deed For Kids

Interesting story about an event in support of abandoned and abused South African children that was organized by tow truck business owners in and around Soweto. Here's the story from the Sowetan-News:

Children from the Orlando Children’s Home in Soweto had a warm start to the new year this week, as they took to the skies in a microlight aircraft.

The event was organised by tow truck business owners in and around Soweto with the aim of showing support to abandoned and abused children of South Africa.

Phillip Tsoaela, event organiser and spokesperson for the Bambanani Towing Association, said: "The reason we’re doing this today is that we realize that kids need our support".

He said another important aim was to make the children understand that the key to success is education. He said: "We must encourage them and make them aware that education is something that no one will ever take from their hands".

The day began quite early in the morning for the children as they drove to the Johannesburg Microlight Academy in Alberton in a convoy of tow trucks of all shapes and sizes.

The lucky kids, ranging in age from 6 to 18, were treated to breath-taking flights in a microlight aircraft by renowned instructor, Marc Gregson.

Although many of the kids were initially scared as they had never been in or even seen a microlight aircraft close-up before, they couldn’t contain their excitement and exhilaration as they climbed off the aircraft.

Still trembling from excitement, Mpho Tshabalala admitted to being petrified before taking to flight, but says she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would do it again if she could. She says: "You know, I was scared in the beginning but it was nice".

Bongani Motlounyane’s pre-flight jitters were especially present when the aircraft took off from the ground, but says the experience was worth it.

A care worker at Orlando Children’s Home, Thandeka Hlakula, commented: "The kids are very happy because many have never been on anything of this sort. They are quite excited and I wish that what has been done for these children would be done for others as well".

Hlakula said they were very happy because the kids have seen that there are people who love them.

"It’s not that because they are in a place of safety they have been abandoned. So they have hope that one day they will be taken in by the society and become ordinary members of the community," she said.

Mofolo central tow truck business owner Charlie said: "I’m very proud of what is happening here today and am glad I could contribute to making the kids dreams come true".

Phillip Tsoaela, who originally came up with the idea, said he is looking to expand the initiative to bring other kids and vulnerable groups in the community some sunshine.

He says: "We’re looking at taking this initiative further by bringing another group of kids to the academy to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity, but also to visit some old age homes and take the grannies and grandpa’s to the zoo for picnic."

Tsoaele says: "When I came up with the idea others couldn’t believe it, and at least now they can believe it. They were all happy. The kids were happy, the [business owners] were happy, I’m very happy also".

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