April 2021.

With the support and collaborative effort of the local Pixley ka Seme District Municipality, Siphe Kulu, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Specialist at the nearby De Aar Solar Power, initiated and deployed PPE as well as COVID-19 safety education sessions for almost 2 000 local community learners via schools.

Mr Kulu recognised that he had the expertise and experience with issues related to health and safety to upskill and increase awareness in the local communities, by providing the necessary equipment and information, directly to two local schools, which didn’t have the required resources.

“Having worked and lived in this town for many years, I am aware that many schools don’t have any safety measures in place with learners having little to no defence against COVID-19, and understandably many families in the community have been battling to put food on the table, which means that safety masks are not very high on their priority list,” explained Mr Kulu.

The District Municipality identified two local community schools, Monwabisi High School in Kwa Nonzwakazi and St. John’s Primary School in Sunrise, as recipients. Working alongside Mr Kulu on this project, Mr Ntamehlo at the local municipal office mobilised their own Environmental Health Practitioners to assist with the training aspect of the project, while De Aar Solar Power provided the funding for the PPE. Additional support was received from Mr Young at the Northern Cape Department of Employment and Labour.

Mr Kulu hopes that this collaborative public-private project clearly demonstrates that the solar plant really cares about the community and that they are disposed to extending resources and skills, which can filter down to families and help rejuvenate the town of De Aar.

“I believe that victory against Covid-19 is a compliance issue. If the schools are able to comply with the directives, I feel we stand a chance of beating this pandemic,” concluded Mr Kulu.

PPE was handed over within a few weeks of the schools commencing their academic year. Simultaneously, the information sessions took place at each school, and focused on general CV-19 education; the correct use of a face mask; social distancing; CV-19 directives from the Department of Labour; the SA Government’s alert level system and relevant regulations; as well as how school staff should manage a CV-19 positive case.

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