Beyond making performance running socks, at Balega we also find ways to give back to our local South African and American communities through our Lesedi Project. Through the Lesedi Project, Balega has supported the Ethembeni School, a boarding school that caters to physically disabled and visually impaired children from all over Kwa-Zulu Natal, Kingdom of the Zulu for the past 15 years. Funds raised through the Lesedi Project assist in providing student scholarships, have funded a therapy playground and swimming pool, and the purchase of a wheelchair accessible school bus.
One of the components of the Lesedi Project is that students at the Ethembeni School hand make colorful beaded bracelets that are then sold next to Balega socks in specialty retail stores in the United States.
It costs $1,200 USD for a student to enroll in the Ethembeni School each year. In 2019, through the Lesedi Project, Balega was able to support 12 students with scholarships. Below are some of these students stories:
● SBAHLE SINDANE – GRADE 2: Sbahle was born on July 29, 2009. She is from Mphophomeni where she resides with her grandmother who is unemployed as her mother who passed away when she was a baby. She alsodoesn’t know her father. Sbahle’s body is twisted and she has walking difficulties.
● KARABELO TAATAA – GRADE 2: Karabelo was born on March 5, 2009 at Matatiele Rural Area. She stays with her unemployed mother and must depend on Karabelo’s disability grant for living. Karabelo is unable to walk, talk properly as well as has writing difficulties. She is in a wheelchair and thus, depends on teachers and other students for mobility.
● PETROS MLIFE – GRADE 7: Petros is physically disabled, having been diagnosed a Spina Bifida for mobility so he uses a wheelchair. He is 15 years old. He is an orphan staying with his aunt. He stays in a rural area in Howick, near Pietermaritzburg. He was abandoned by his father’s family and by his mother. He has been told that he has siblings, but they have never met. He is very energetic and likes sports, particularlyPara-Table tennis.
● NOSIPHO NDLOVU: Nosipho lives in Stanger with her grandmother. Both of her parents are deceased. Nosipho is unable to work and to use her hands properly, so much so that she can’t hold a pen. She solely relies on a computer in order to write. Academically, Nosipho is doing very well in all learning areas, especially in English. Nosipho started school very late at the age of 7 because there was no one to assist her grandmother at getting her to aschool that caterstoher needs. Nosipho doesn’t receive any visitors during the course of the term because her grandmother is struggling financially. She cannot afford to come all the way from Stanger to visit Nosipho.
● MPILWENHLE KHALISHWAYO – GRADE 4: Mpilwenhle was born July 27, 2008 and is from a deep rural area of Mahlabathini. She stays with her granny, uncle and her two siblings. She has a very difficult time walking due to twisted legs, however, scholastically she does very well and is eager to learn.
We are hoping to continue to build on the momentum we had this year and help even more students get access to the education they need. Thank you for your support in advance!