By Bronwyn Davids
Children should not have to learn to duck and dive to avoid bullets on their way to school and this is why about 70 volunteers in Bonteheuwel have joined an initiative to ensure that the children get to school safely.
I don’t like to give the gangsters more recognition but the children are exposed to so much threat in the area. We definitely don’t send them to school to duck and dive bullets. But there are good things happening here,” said Bonteheuwel peace ambassador Soraya Salie, a volunteer with the Walking Bus Initiative.
The initiative consists of volunteers who work closely with the suburb’s eight primary schools and two high schools to ensure that pupils are walked safely to school and back home. In addition to creating a greater sense of safety, the initiative has reduced crime significantly and helped improve pass rates by keeping the kids in school.
Volunteer Buddy Koopman said the volunteers, mostly moms with children at the schools they serve, had joined up after they responded to ads.
They had been screened and fully trained in safety procedures, including evasive tactics should shooting break out.
“The children want to feel safe. We help them cross the road and take them to the school gates.”
“And we also help the teachers with after-school lessons and are involved with the school sports, just to make it safe for the children. We are doing it all for the child’s sake,” said Koopman.
He spoke of how gangsters used to engage in running battles through school grounds but, in recent months, this had subsided.
The Walking Bus Initiative operates in areas such as Mitchells Plain and Bokmakierie and as far as the Southern Cape.
Source: IOL (edited)