Two years ago we began distributing tracksuits to learners at Ukhanyo School thanks to a generous donation from SOMB. The tracksuits have proved so popular that we have continued offering them to new pupils arriving at the school. With the winter now just around the corner we distributed the first set of new tracksuits at the school last week.
The tracksuits continue to be made at The Sewing Café in Masiphumelele; hence, this also supports a local business. They remain incredibly popular and you can be sure to see them worn by children all around the community during these colder months of the year.
Masicorp was recently pleased to welcome Will Bennett back to Ukhanyo School. Will is an American businessman and philanthropist who was one of the founding members of Californian clothing company, SOMB, (SHIRT OFF MY BACK). Based in Los Angeles the company are also well known for their ethical trading practices and generously donate a school uniform to a child in schools in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa for every item they sell.
Will first visited us in March 2014. At Ukhanyo Primary School SOMB have kindly agreed to fund the provision of school track suits to each child , which has also benefitted the Sewing Café – another of Masicorp’s projects in the township. The ladies have been awarded the contract to produce the tracksuits and proudly posed with Will (left) and his girlfriend Rebecca (right – and proudly sporting the SOMB baseball cap).
Later at the school Will saw several children already wearing their tracksuits on what turned out to be a cold and wet spring day. The first batches of tracksuits were made for the younger children. On this visit Will was able to provide a donation of almost USD 3,000 that has helped us to provide tracksuits to the older children – as seen in the photograph below.
SOMB, together with our UK partron Dame Linda Dobbs have helped us to outfit virtually all of the school’s children in the characteristic brown and yellow tracksuits. It is now a common site for visitors to see children kitted out in tracksuits throughout Masiphumelele, not just the school. Many thanks to everyone involved in keeping the children warm throughout this school year.
For more images of SOMB uniform drops at donor schools throughout Africa please see their gallery HERE.
Earlier this week we were delighted to receive a visit from our patron, Dame Linda Dobbs. Dame Linda made history when she became Britain’s first non-white High Court judge, and has been a generous supporter of Masicorp for many years. Having recently retired she had the opportunity to visit Masicorp, which is just one of the many development projects she is involved in across Africa.
We began her day by taking her around the Chasmay Road campus, location of the Sewing Café as well as several other interesting NGO’s and business ventures working with the community of Masiphumelele. Special thanks to Appshed and Justice Dolls for taking the time to show Dame Linda around their work. Dame Linda spent most of her time on campus learning about the Sewing Café, and she met several of the current intake of new adult learners. We are pleased to report that business was booming at the time, with a large order of children’s dresses being prepared by past graduates.
Dame Linda was here to collect another batch of track suits for the children of Ukhanyo School. After a brief stopover at the refurbished library it was over to the school where the tracksuits were to be handed over. It was an awful wet day, and the need for the tracksuits was clear for all to see as the rain and wind of a Cape winter chilled everyone. Dame Linda took the time to offer each student a few words of encouragement as they came up to collect their track suits from her.
There was also time to meet the staff at the science lab, and view the student’s technology projects from earlier this year – a selection of brightly designed cell phone towers. Dame Linda was honest enough to admit that science was not her best subject, but she was clearly impressed with both the facilities and motivation of the staff. We hope that she will be able to find time for many more visits to our projects in the future, and thank her once again for the financial support that has helped us to kit out the students with warm clothes this winter.
With the weather starting to get noticeably colder in Masiphumelele we were delighted to be able to distribute more tracksuits to the children on Ukhnayo Primary School this week. Back in March we began to hand out track suits thanks to a donation from Will Bennett, James Williams, and Chris Norqual – three of the five founding members of American clothing company, SOMB, (SHIRT OFF MY BACK). This week a further 180 track suits were delivered to the school following financial support from Linda Dobbs, who has been a long-time supporter of our work.
Once again the Sewing Café have produced the tracksuits and the project is continuing to provide regular work the ladies. This batch was only small and medium track-suits with the large versions due to be completed next week. Yesterday saw a steady stream of grade 1 pupils arriving to be sized-up and kitted out with their new outfits.
Another of Masicorp’s long-time supporters was present to witness the tracksuit handover. Lord David Hacking has been a very generous supporter of Masicorp’s work and was visiting Masiphumelele to view progress on various projects before returning to the UK later this week. He also enjoyed seeing the happy faces of the students as they were collected between classes to pick-up their track suits. Looking ahead at the weather forecast and feeling the chill in the air around the school this week the delivery could not have come at a better time.
Earlier this week Masicorp was pleased to host Will Bennett, James Williams, and Chris Norqual – three of the five founding members of American clothing company, SOMB, (SHIRT OFF MY BACK). The four letter word, SOMB, is an abbreviation for the widely-used expression in pop culture, “shirt off my back.” Based in Los Angeles the company describe their product lines as, “an eclectic mix of t-shirts, tank tops and hoodies inspired by California’s relaxed street style.” Since their formation in 2010, SOMB attire has become popular with celebrities worldwide including Desperate Housewives actress, Eva Longoria (right) and the London Wasps rugby team (below).
SOMB is a fashion company with a conscience and for every article of clothing they sell in the United States they provide a school uniform to a child in Africa. Will and James initially contacted us with a view to including Ukhanyo Primary School among the many schools they work with in Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa. Unfortunately at the time the school year had just begun and most children were already fitted out in their new uniforms. However, we are not far away from the Cape winter, which is a time when children find their uniforms are not warm enough for the cold and damp conditions. SOMB therefore kindly agreed to fund the provision of school track suits to each child and we arranged for the first batch of fifty to be made ready for this week.
This has also been good news for the Sewing Café – another of Masicorp’s projects in the township. The ladies have been awarded the contract to produce the tracksuits and proudly showed off the freshly prepared garments to Will, James, and Chris on their arrival. Over at the school we later saw several children already proudly wearing their tracksuits after the first batch was delivered earlier in the morning. With the continued support of SOMB and the hard work of the ladies of the Sewing Café every child will be wearing warm clothing over their uniforms this winter. This is a great initiative, not just for the children but also the Sewing Café who have picked up a significant amount of work through the project.
It was just left for the children to show off their football and basketball skills to Will, James, and Chris who were kept on their toes by some skilful and enthusiastic footwork from the youngsters. All of SOMB’s founders are keen sportsmen and first met over a game of hockey so it was the perfect end to an action packed morning. We cannot thank SOMB enough for their generous financial support, which has made a real difference in Masiphumelele. It was a pleasure to host Will, James, and Chris and we look forward to seeing them again in the future.