Teacher gives disabled child piggyback ride in school race

2017-01-31 11:56
Riaan van Straten, who is in charge of sport at the Curro private school in Kathu and is an ex-provincial rugby player, with Angela Motswamere on his back in the race. (Sulette de Bruin)

Riaan van Straten, who is in charge of sport at the Curro private school in Kathu and is an ex-provincial rugby player, with Angela Motswamere on his back in the race. (Sulette de Bruin)

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Bloemfontein - A teacher at the Curro private school in Kathu in the Northern Cape stole many hearts on Friday when he picked up a disabled girl and gave her a piggyback ride so that she could take part in a 60 metre race with all her classmates.

Riaan van Straten, who is in charge of sport at the school and is an ex-provincial rugby player, said he didn't know why his actions had touched so many hearts, Netwerk24 reported.    

"I expect every guy to be like that," he said. "That is how I was brought up."

At the school’s inter-house athletics meeting on Friday, one of the starters called Van Straten because there was a "problem". 

When he got there, he saw five-year-old Angela Motswamere waiting – and raring to go. 

"The starter said there was a physically disabled [child] who wanted to run and that someone would have to help her."

He initially thought she was paralysed.

"When I first saw her, I thought she was sitting on her knees. It was only when she got up, that I realised that she didn’t have lower legs."

Without thinking twice, Van Straten picked her up and put her on his back. 

"Angela giggled all the way."

Van Straten said it was a bit of a challenge running with her on his back. 

"At the start, I thought it would be unfair to run away from the other children. But it was heavy going with Angela on my back. I had to try hard not to finish last.

"But it isn’t where we finished the race which mattered. I couldn’t see Angela’s face while we were running, but when I put her down, she laughed all the time and was all smiles. That was the most precious. She and I had both enjoyed it."


Riaan van Straten and Angela Motswamere on their way to the finish line in the 60m race at Curro in Kathu. (Sulette de Bruin)

The teachers had told him that if he hadn’t given Angela a piggyback ride, the determined little girl would’ve tackled the race on her stumps.

"I love sport and children. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to do it."

The principal, Eddie Conradie, said messages had been streaming in since photos were posted on Facebook. 

"People just wanted to say what a nice gesture it had been," he said. 

Van Straten and his wife Joanie have their own challenges at home.

Their two-year-old daughter Carli was born with four different heart defects and has already undergone three open heart surgeries.   

"We are rearing her the same as any of the other children. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to help Angela."

Read more on:    kimberley  |  education  |  good news

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