Karabo Linda anxiously waited for the opening of schools on Wednesday to start high school.
As the school opening day came closer, his mother Minah Linda from Alexandra in Johannesburg said Karabo kept on asking her about his school uniform and stationery.
But the unemployed Linda, who lost her job as a cleaner during the country’s level 5 lockdown, couldn’t afford to buy him and her other children school uniforms, let alone other necessities.
On Wednesday, Karabo put up a brave act by wearing his worn-out takkies, which were given to him by a golf coach. He left the house hoping to start grade 8.
His brave act didn’t go beyond the school gates as teachers wouldn’t allow him in without a formal uniform.
They sent him back home.
“He came back from school sobbing. He looked shattered and defeated. But there was nothing I could do. I don’t have money to buy him what he wants for school,” said Linda.
But Karabo was not the only child from the Linda family to be sent home. Seven of his family members were also sent back because of lack of proper uniform.
The 46-year-old mother of five said her priority is to make sure she finds food to eat for the 18 people living in the house. “There is only one person working in the house.
“We all rely on child grants for the children in the house to eat, which is not even enough.
“I try to sell magwinya on the street corner to get money to buy bread and a bag of maize meal. Buying school uniforms is not a priority in my situation,” she said.
The family of 18 stays in a two-room family house.
Linda had five siblings who all died, leaving her to take care of their children.
“We buried our mother in 2006 and my siblings followed every year after,” she said.
She added that some of her orphaned nieces and nephews are adults and are having children of their own under the same roof. “It is painful to see how we suffer,” she said.
The mother of five said seeing everyone sleeping in that house at night is disheartening. “No human being should have to go through this”
She said when she was working, at least things were a bit easier.
She is now pleading with well-wishers to help her take the children to school. “All I want is to see children attend school just like any other child in the community.”
Karabo wishes to be a lawyer and professional golf player. He has been playing golf from the age of nine years.
Linda’s situation is not exceptional in the township. Many parents are struggling to balance the feeding of children with buying them school resources.
Scrolla.Africa’s team has been getting calls from townships like Alexandra, Diepsloot and some parts of Soweto, where parents desperately need assistance to get their children back to school.