- A total of 1 200 shoes were donated to the Sinomusa Sonke Foundation.
- The foundation was established in 2018 and has assisted hundreds of young girls.
- Zinhle Ndlovu used her savings to establish the foundation.
Zinhle Ndlovu remembers how, as a young girl, she had to walk kilometres to school without any shoes.
Now, the young KwaZulu-Natal nurse is trying to ensure that other rural girls do not have the same experience.
Ndlovu, who works at the Netcare Kingsway Hospital in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban, used her savings to start the Sinomusa Sonke Foundation in 2018.
Her brother, Smanga Mhlongo, friends, and colleagues also helped.
The foundation recently had a shoe drive, at which 1 200 new pairs of shoes were donated by My Walk, a non-profit organisation supported by Netcare and Adcock Ingram Critical Care.
According to Ndlovu, there are thousands of children who find it "difficult to overcome the physical challenges of getting to school and many who are disheartened by the experience".
Through her collaborative efforts and the innovative recycling initiative, which turns uncontaminated polyvinyl chloride (PVC) healthcare waste into new school shoes, hundreds of young girls have now received a "life-changing gift".
Ndlovu said they recently completed the first half of their drive at a local community hall, where they handed over shoes to girls in six different primary schools in the Umlazi area during Women's Month.
Even before the devastating April floods, where families experienced a great deal of loss, the girls were already living under challenging circumstances, she said.
"We look forward to distributing the remaining 600 pairs of shoes to learners in similar situations at other schools in the coming weeks."
She is also helping her old school, Mvuzane Primary School, in Eshowe, which has about 450 pupils, "…most of whom are in desperate need, and this is just one school".
With the help of friends, colleagues, teachers, and members of the community, Ndlovu has managed to provide not only shoes but also other essential items, such as soap, bath towels, and sanitary pads.
She grew up in rural Nkandla and is the firstborn daughter of a polygamous family.
"My grandfather had three wives and 34 children, and many grandchildren. He was the only provider in our family, so it was not an easy start in life.
"Nevertheless, we were fortunate enough to go to school, although this meant crossing rivers and walking many kilometres along rough gravel roads, without shoes, and on an empty stomach much of the time.
"It was difficult to find the motivation to go again the next day and all the days that followed, knowing that it would be like this each time, in order to get an education."