Home Podcast Amani Inkd Launched Shoebox Campaign to Support Orphanage in Johannesburg Ahead of Eid Celebrations

Amani Inkd Launched Shoebox Campaign to Support Orphanage in Johannesburg Ahead of Eid Celebrations

by Thaabit Kamaar

For the past two years, Amani Inked has assisted an orphanage in Homestead Park, Johannesburg. As Eid approaches, the youth-led organisation launched an ongoing initiative, The Shoebox Campaign.

The shoebox campaign is an Eid initiative to support the Eid tradition of buying new clothing. Only this time, sponsors can support the caregivers and children of the orphanage by selecting and purchasing new clothing and gifts on their behalf.

Ameera Thokan, a founder of the organisation, said, “The shoebox campaign is for Eid. We want them [the children at the orphanage] to have new Eid clothes. Because when we do, clothing drives it’s obviously not new clothes that the kids get. And I think this is the one time in the year that they can get new clothes.”

Initially, the organisation planned to empower the orphanage’s children and caregivers through various schemes and workshops. However, after spending time with the children and staff and understanding their situation, the organisation realised a greater need and decided to assist in whichever way they could.

Since its inception, Amani Inkd has embarked on multiple campaigns, such as raising funds and awareness of the plight of the Palestinians. They have financially assisted numerous people and organisations locally, including people affected by the Kwazulu-Natal uprising in 2021. The organisation comprises a team of young adults and teenagers.

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Addressing The Needs of the Orphanage

The orphanage is home to approximately 23 children and six caregivers. The children come from an array of different backgrounds. Thokan said their guardians abandoned some, and others were found on the street and taken to the orphanage.

“A lot of kids come from families who have abandoned them completely, families who can’t look after them, or we’ve just found them on the street … They come from all sorts of places, and it’s quite sad to see that they don’t know what to do and they don’t know where to go.”

The orphanage’s needs were necessities such as food, adequate shelter and access to education. They have addressed some of the issues by prioritising food, which the organisation acquires monthly.

However, access to education proved to be troublesome. A large number of the children do not have the necessary documentation required for school admissions. Therefore, the organisation employed teachers and developed its own schooling system to assist the children until they could attend school.

“We continue doing whatever we can for the kids, but it is our biggest project. The need for counselling and more workshops is still there. But because of the basic needs that they need that aren’t being seen to, we have to take a step back from that and focus on that because obviously, a hungry child is not going to learn.”

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Challenges They Have Encountered

Of course, being the organisation’s most significant project, there are expected challenges. One of those is funding. Thokan said that when they approach sponsors, people want a detailed explanation about the orphanage and their needs before donating. However, from this they have learned valuable lessons and skills on how to approach people.

Other challenges include safety. She added that people are not allowed to interact with unaccompanied children inside the orphanage. This lack of entry deters many people from coming out and volunteering.

“We can’t just let anyone into the orphanage. We can’t just let people walk in as they please we don’t know. We want to protect the kids … We want to be wary of whom we are letting get access to these kids. So a lot of our exposure and how we want to be known is a challenge.”

However, Thokan said people are eager and excited to help in whichever way they can. Within the first day, people selected almost all the boxes filled with the children’s profiles, clothing sizes and wishlists. She hopes the campaign will be even bigger this year than it was in the last.

Watch the full discussion here.

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