Travelling child rights campaigner meets Sweetwaters pupils

2010-02-09 00:00

DETERMINED to “find a solution to child rape”, Steve Heath met children from Sweetwaters Primary School at the Beares furniture store in Church Street yesterday.

Pietermaritzburg was Heath’s 130th stop after he began his cross-country campaign in a beach buggy called “Buddy” in August 2009.

Heath’s initiative (Buddy and Me), raises funds for organisations assisting victims of child rape.

“Most people assume I do this because I’ve been affected,” said Heath, “but my children grew up happy and secure. That’s why I do it — every child deserves a good life.”

From Burgersfort to Bronkhorstspruit, Heath speaks to organisations about the importance of protecting children.

“Look around and choose five people you can trust,” he told the children of Sweetwaters Primary, “if someone abuses you, go and tell those people.”

“Buddy” was sponsored by Beares. Sandy Beharie, manager of the Church Street branch, said she was excited to have Heath in her store.

“Our slogan is ‘Beares really cares’, and this is a way to show that. Steve is one of our biggest projects.”

Before the Beares-sponsored vehicle, Heath would campaign by walking from town to town.

With 8 000 daily hits, Heath’s website (buddyandme.co.za) is another form of raising funds and awareness.

At the end of his trip — scheduled for mid-June this year — Heath will present a paper to Parliament about his findings. “My aim is to find a solution to child rape. The situation is getting ridiculous and we need to stop this,” he said.

“Every time someone in Parliament opens their mouths, they say the children are the future,” he said. “They must listen to themselves.”

Heath left a corporate job in finance to tour South Africa in an open-top beach buggy, a decision, he said, he never regretted. “I told my kids, I’m going to spend your inheritance fighting child rape. And they were fine with it.”

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