Military members also donated educational supplies to Retlameleng Special School and !Xhunkwesa Combined School in Platfontein
AS PART of the final chapter of the Armed Forces Day celebrations, which took place in Kimberley, members of the South African Air Force on Friday donated food and vegetables to the Sechwareng Old Age Home in Galeshewe.
The capabilities of the SANDF was showcased during a week-long programme in the city, which commenced on February 15 and ended with a parade and the commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi on February 21.
Colonel Tony Cloete, who handed over the donation, said that they had decided to give the food away after realising that there was still so much food left after the troops had left the city.
“We had to buy and prepare food for thousands of troops on a daily basis. After the programme was done, we saw that there was still so much unused food left which would get spoiled if we did not make a plan with it. The majority of troops had already left and our initial thought was to give the food to a crèche or aftercare centre,” said Cloete.
He said that they had been told about the old age home by one of the local business owners whom they had supported over the period of the Armed Forces Day celebrations.
“We took a deliberate decision to buy all our supplies from local businesses in the city. We especially focussed on small businesses and not the bigger franchises. We bought all our fruit and vegetables from the hawkers on the street. These businesses did not have a great amount of supplies and that ensured that we could support more than one business each day. The owners were left speechless when we told them about the quantity of supplies we required as they would sell all their supplies to us within minutes.
“One of the ladies told us about the old age home and it was no argument that the old age home would be the best recipient of the donation.”
The hearts of the troops were touched when some of the elderly people wept when they received the donation of Friday.
Cloete said that part of the aim of the week-long armed forces event was to leave a legacy behind for those who hosted the military and to make a difference in the lives of the people.
“We were received with warmth and respect. We did not just want to take away from the city and leave nothing. That was the reason why we took the decision to only buy from small businesses in the city. We spent more than R80 000 on street vendors. We also spent about R7.2 million on local businesses to feed the troops these past two weeks. This was just a small contribution we made to the economy of the city. We had no supplies flown in and bought everything from local suppliers,” he said.
The owner of Bahlakweng Trading, Elaine Oss, said that she had made great profit thanks to the support of the military.
“I have a container where I sell fruit and vegetables from. The military members walked in one day and they bought every vegetable in the store. The stock which I used to sell in a week, I sold in one day. I was so shocked when they asked for more stock after I was sold out. The troops were truly of a great support to my business,” said Oss.
She added that she had introduced the troops to the old age home.
“Some of the people staying in this old age home get nothing. They are dependant on their pensions. Some of them have no food in their cupboards and the donation will be a great relief to them,” said Oss.
Military members also donated educational supplies to Retlameleng Special School and !Xhunkwesa Combined School in Platfontein.
Retlameleng received eight whiteboards, eight data projectors, eight laptops and E-beans.
Members of the SANDF also gave the school a facelift by painting the school and cleaning the premises.
The Chief of Staff of the SANDF, General Vusi Masondo, said that the donations form part of the legacy project.
“As a modest gesture from the military, we have donated these items that will be useful to the academics of the pupils. This educational equipment will assist pupils who are deaf, autistic and visually impaired. All pupils have the right to quality education and cannot be discriminated against merely because they may have a disability,” said Masondo.
!Xunkwesa Combined School received a fully-fledged computer laboratory and school shoes for 100 deserving pupils.
The Northern Cape MEC for Education, Martha Bartlett, said she hoped that the week-long Armed Forces Day celebrations had sparked an interest in a career in the military for the youth of the Province.
“The military has given hope to the youth of the Province and shown them what is possible. The endless possibilities and careers in the military were also exposed. We hope the youth will now be more interested in becoming members of the military,” said Bartlett.