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Kids need shoes!

For many of South Africa's city slicker kids, a new year involves a frenzied shopping spree to stock up on new school gear. However, hundreds of thousands of less fortunate learners are lucky just to get the back-to-school basics on the family's shopping list, and expensive items like school shoes are luxuries. Because of their work in the South African school landscape, HDI Youth Marketeers finds this even more worrying than most.
Swazi Dlamini and Jason Levin
Swazi Dlamini and Jason Levin
Metro FM producer, Lupi Ngcayisa, has set about changing this tough situation, with his Railway to Life campaign. The initiative aims to collect 9,000 pairs of school shoes: 1,000 for each province. “This charity drive is a small gesture, but one that can have a positive psychological effect on the way a child sees himself or herself. It's our little way of making a devastating situation better,” says Ngcayisa.

After hearing about this campaign on radio, HDI Youth Marketeers' employee Swazi Dlamini took the campaign not only to heart, but to heel. She rallied up the support of her colleagues and her employer: HDI Youth Marketeers. Together the staff and company has donated 110 pairs of shoes to the cause - helping out with more than 10% of Railway to Life's Gauteng quota.

“We are proud to show our support for initiatives like this. It's crazy that a large proportion of South African kids arrive at school daily either hungry or unshod - or both. Kids are our bag, schools are our thing and we are passionate about youth, so we had to get involved with Metro's campaign,” says Jason Levin, MD of HDI Youth Marketeers.

HDI Youth Marketeers works closely with brands to develop youth platforms that reach an extensive network of schools across South Africa. These programmes include the Pick n Pay School Club which delivers free curriculum-aligned educational material to over 1,800 schools, and a P&G Girl Power programme that reaches, literally, hundreds of thousands of girls annually with messages of empowerment and self-knowledge that they'd probably not get otherwise. The company was recently awarded a AAA BEE rating for, amongst other things, its commitment to socio-economic development.

To date, the Railway to Life campaign has collected a total of 8,600 shoes with support from individuals and big corporate like their parent, the SABC, City Press and others. The marketing and creative industry doesn't seem to have made a big contribution so far, “But,” says Dlami, “when marketers rally around a cause, they generally make waves, so let's hope our peers get on board and drive Lupi's cause to 18,000 pairs, never mind 1,000 per province!”

For more information on how you can get involved visit

Editorial contact
Jessica Oosthuizen

(011) 706-6016
HDI Youth Marketeers

6 Feb 2009 11:01