In July 2016, JAM SA donated TOMS shoes to children at Zama Zama School of Hope in Pretoria. Many children here are being raised by single, unemployed parents, who live in shacks in informal settlements, with no electricity and running water.
Zama Zama has become these children’s little haven. Every school day, they are fed JAM’s nutritious porridge, and have ample space to learn, play and just be children. One of these children is seven-year-old Brandon Mtema who was born blind. After numerous unsuccessful operations to restore his eyesight, his mother Loveness Mtema is now raising him on her own, after his father abandoned the family.
When Brandon started at Zama Zama, he found it difficult to adjust as he had previously been in his mother’s care. He’d constantly feel for her presence and would cry if she was far from him. She would even piggyback him to school because he found it uncomfortable to walk in his only pair of sandals that he had outgrown. Principal Florence Phosa said, “When JAM came to deliver the TOMS it was as if it’s Christmas. For some children, this was their first pair of shoes. I’m also grateful for shoes because before that, they would come to crèche with dirty feet that were often cut by bottles and I would have to nurse them”.
Brandon has now adjusted to being away from his mother and has embraced coming to crèche. He insists on wearing his new TOMS everyday, and he loves to play on the jungle gym, being with new friends and is constantly singing. Florence said “I’m proud of Brandon. We now know about his talent and we nurture it every day during the music lesson.”
Brandon’s mother said she hopes he will find a career in music. “He sings all the time, it’s like he’s come out of his shell. I’m so proud of him, one day I want to see him on TV as one of the best singers.”