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Giving children a chance to sparkle

Written by: Dale Hes

A Hermanus couple’s success in improving education in a nearby township demonstrates just how much of a difference civic-minded people can make in the country.

In 2011, husband and wife Theo and Angie Krynauw who were residents of Hermanus, in the Western Cape, were concerned about the huge divide between the rich who were residing in Hermanus and the poor who were residents of Zwelihle, the neighbouring township.

The couple decided to do something about this divide and started the non-profit organisation, Sparklekids.

Their approach was to uplift the young people who were pupils of Qhayiya Secondary School in Zwelihle.

The couple was looking at ways to improve the school's performance.

 They started the programme in order to improve the matric pass rate from 32 percent, the standard of teaching and facilities.

Theo and Angie were determined to help and set about raising money from donors and identifying teachers from Cape Town who could assist with improving the quality of education in Zwelihle.

“The teachers would come to assist over holidays and weekends. Every Monday, we would also go to the school to do an assembly, where we would try to motivate and inspire the children, letting them know that there is a way out of poverty,” Theo said.

 With the assistance of donors, Sparklekids has since supported over 100 previously disadvantaged children from Zwelihle, helping them with their education and giving them opportunities to go to tertiary institutions after school.Theo Krynauw with two Sparklekids Tinashe Nyamurowa and Bonke Xakata who are studying at university.

“We identify children who show a real willingness to learn and improve themselves,” explained Theo. These children are given after-school tutoring to help them improve their marks.

Today, the list of students supported by Sparklekids has grown to over 120. Many of these youth are now studying  at university for degrees, with Sparklekids supporting them with registration fees, transport, toiletries and appliances.

“We started with two students – Lungisa and Anita. Today, Lungisa is a civil engineer and Anita is doing her second degree in chemical engineering. This just goes to show what a quality education can do for a young person,” Theo pointed out.

Two former Sparklekids are now teachers at Qhayiya Secondary School, where Theo and Angie still identify most of the children they support.

For more information about Sparklekids, contact Theo on 082 654 4924 or email theo.sparklekids@gmail.com