In 2019, Walk4Access, a group of people from the University of Pretoria (UP) walked from Cape Town to Pretoria. Their aim was to raise funds for students who needed funding for higher education. Now, in 2021, they are undertaking the walk again as a registered non-profit organisation (NPO).
Thand’Olwethu Dlanga, one of the members of the NPO, spoke to The Daily Vox about the initiative. He said it was started to raise funds for students with historic debt, registration issues and also to provide food for students.
“We saw that the majority of the time when students participate in protests – they are seen as wanting things for free. So we said we wanted to use our energy to walk and raise these funds to assist students,” Dlanga said.
The 2019 edition
In 2019, they walked from Cape Town to Pretoria. The 2020 edition of the walk had to be cancelled as the group were scheduled to leave a few days before the national lockdown went into effect. Now in 2021, they are aiming to walk from Durban to Pretoria from May 3-14. Their intended starting point is a girls’ high school in Durban and their ending point is a girls’ high school in Pretoria.
“This is important because we want to bring in the importance of education for the girl child. That’s one of the other things we are trying to bring into this conversation,” said Dlanga.
Dlanga said they will observe all pandemic protocols including splitting the group up. They will be walking in pairs instead of as a whole group as a form of relay. All of the participants will have the necessary masks and sanitisers.
While the initiative began at UP, other universities have gotten involved since then. Dlanga says they hope all universities will get involved as this is an issue that concerns all students. This year, students from North-West University and Tshwane University of Technology will be joining the walk.
During the 2019 walk, they aimed to raise R1 million from the initiative. They did not reach their target in 2019 but they managed to raise more than R100 000. This was at R2 for every day they walked. Dlanga said this year, they realised the R2 a day wasn’t feasible because people couldn’t make transfers for such a small amount. The donations for this year are now R21 per day.
From the money raised, they managed to assist several students from different universities to register for the academic year. Walk4Access focused on students who were almost completed with their studies and were getting ready to enter the job market. They also provided meals for students from the money raised.
Dlanga said this year’s walk is about raising funds but also about creating hope. “We are calling it a walk of hope because of the despair that has been caused by COVID-19. We want the spirit of people and South Africans to not lose hope because of the pandemic. Beyond the pandemic, there is still life and we are trying to show that,” he said.
They are also planning a special surprise on Mother’s Day. The group aims to spend the entire day at the Bergview N1 stop in Harrismith where they will be handing out gifts to mothers visiting the stop. “This is because the majority of students who are struggling come from single mother households and therefore we want to say thank you to those mothers,” said Dlanga.
All details on how to donate and get involved can be found on the poster below.