For five days, two South African philanthropists will be hiking the Fish River Canyon, dressed in business attire – complete with footwear – with all their survival items stored safely in two accompanying briefcases. Setting off on Tuesday, 7 August, Potchefstroom residents and close friends, Cobus Steenkamp and Eunice van Schalkwyk, have committed to this unconventional journey as a way to raise funds for NPO, Project Dignity, during Women’s Month.
The non-profit extension of Subz Pants and Pads, Project Dignity aims to deliver reusable sanitary pads to disadvantaged schoolgirls across the country. Cobus and Eunice were introduced to the work done by Project Dignity after attending an activation at one of the local schools. Inspired by the simplicity and brilliance of the concept, the two decided to organise a unique fundraising initiative to assist.
“The sad truth is that millions of girls in South Africa are not getting the education so desperately needed,” explained Cobus. “These girls are missing approximately five days of school every month because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. This amounts to 60 missed school days a year.”
In addition to the impact on education, health and dignity are affected as young girls resort to using less safe and less absorbent materials such as rags, newspaper, leaves or even bark.
Cobus, a lecturer in Police Practice at the North-West University Potchefstroom, and Eunice, an environmental scientist, have undertaken a number of fundraisers individually, but the Fish River Canyon hike will be their first joint venture.
Commenting on the project, Eunice said: “The mere statistics of girls missing school – preventing them from reaching their full potential – should be enough incentive to do something. Both of us feel strongly that education is the key to a better future, not just for the individual, but for our country as a whole. We specifically wanted to do something that will help girls as, most often, it’s them making the most sacrifices. This is why we decided to do our hike during August, Women’s Month, particularly over Women’s Day on 9 August.”
She said that, as responsible citizens, they felt it was their duty to bring the plight of young women to the attention of the private sector and government: “As an example, India recently relieved taxes on sanitary pads in an effort to make them more available. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case in South Africa.”
Sue Barnes, founder of Subz Pants and Pads and Project Dignity, extended her heartfelt thanks to Cobus and Eunice for embarking on this brave adventure: “To hike the Fish River Canyon in full corporate gear, with nothing but two briefcases of supplies, takes determination and strength of character. For Cobus and Eunice to be doing this on behalf of Project Dignity, knowing the difference it will make in so many young lives, is truly worth celebrating. I urge everyone to get behind these two and support the worthwhile fundraiser.”
The pair will hike roughly 90 kilometres in five days in the hopes of raising some R230 000. This translates into 1000 packs of Subz Pants and Pads, consisting of sanitary wear, with each pack able to last one young woman up to five years. The fundraising will be done through the Do It 4 Charity site, with donations welcomed via www.subzpads.co.za/donate-now/ or via EFT to:
First National Bank
Account No: 6249 4489 646
Branch Code: 250655
Swift Code: firnzajj
“Of course, we would love to raise as much money as possible but just as important is our wish to raise awareness,” concluded Cobus. “Any support in assisting us to bring this to the attention of willing donors will make a tangible difference in the lives of schoolgirls countrywide.”
Project Dignity offers companies and individuals with many opportunities to support those in need with reusable Subz Pants and Pads donations. Visit the website www.projectdignity.org.za for more information about the work being done to help uplift and empower South African girls.