Ford South Africa has funded the production of school shoes for 4 300 underprivileged children in Pretoria and Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth). The first batch of 1 010 pairs of shoes were handed over today to Ramahlale Primary School in Mamelodi, near Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant.
Ford provided a grant of R1-million for the project to local non-profit organisation Future Families, which operates the Ford Resource and Engagement Centre (FREC) in Mamelodi. The centre provides free skills development and training to the local community through grants from Ford Motor Company Fund and Ford South Africa.
Through the R1-million donation, Ford SA and Future Families collaborated with Veldskoen Shoes to produce 4 300 pairs of black leather shoes, which are being donated to Ramahlale Primary School and Gatang High School in Mamelodi, as well as Missionvale UCC Primary School, Sipho Hashe Primary School and WB Tshume Primary School in Gqeberha, near Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant. Veldskoen is a Cape Town-based company that locally manufactures a range of handcrafted leather shoes, and is the official off-field shoe supplier to the South African team at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“Education is an essential part of empowering and uplifting people, and is a key focus area for Ford in supporting the communities in which we operate,” says Neale Hill, MD of Ford South Africa. “However, South Africa’s underprivileged youth face numerous challenges, not least of which is many learners having to attend school without a decent pair of shoes, or any shoes at all.
“Accordingly, we are proud to partner with Future Families and the innovative team at Veldskoen Shoes to manufacture and supply 4 300 pairs of shoes to underprivileged school children in Pretoria and Gqeberha. This initiative will assist the learners on their path towards a brighter, more promising future,” Hill says.
Veldskoen specially developed a durable black shoe for this project based on its popular Heritage Shoe range. The unique black school shoe proudly carries the Ford and Veldskoen logos on the in-soles, as well as the South African flag stitched on the outside. The shoes are manufactured at the company’s factory in Durban, and required a total of 10 250 feet (3 124 metres) of leather, 1 950kg of thermoplastic rubber for the soles, shoe laces spanning 4.3km, and 4 300 pairs of EVA socks (or in-soles).
Although Veldskoen’s children’s shoe range normally only goes down to a child’s size nine, Ford and Future Families challenged them to create school shoes that start from size five to cater for the youngest learners.
“We are immensely proud and grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with a company like Ford on a project that spreads good to South Africa’s children,” says Nick Dreyer, CEO of Veldskoen Shoes.
“We tried to keep as many elements of Veldskoen as possible. The leather we used is a very hardy material with a nice uniform look to it, and it has a very high abrasion resistance to ensure it lasts a long time while allowing kids to learn, move and play to their hearts’ content,” Dreyer adds. “All materials and labour are proudly supplied here in South Africa from local suppliers.”
Penny Learmonth, Executive Director of Future Families, adds: “COVID-19 has brought added financial pressure to many families, and meeting their everyday needs is difficult. This opportunity by Ford South Africa will bring sunshine to so many families. These are beautiful school shoes that will boost the self-confidence of all who are lucky to wear them. Thank you Ford for this awesome initiative and Veldskoen for the design and production!”
“The learners, staff and parents of Ramahlale Primary School are grateful to Ford Motor Company for the donation of 1 010 pairs of shoes to our learners. This donation gives our learners a sense of pride when they come to school and has deeply touched families and teachers. It will walk our learners to a successful future. We would also like to thank Veldskoen who made the shoes and Future Families who have an after-school programme with us,” concludes Mr Modibedi Malefahlo, Principal of Ramahlale Primary School.