His was one of seven teams in the Western Cape taking part in the 14th annual rally, which this year targeted 14 schools in the Koue and Warm Bokkeveld (Ceres/Citrusdal) region, delivering much-needed books, sporting gear, teaching aids and other educational materials to under-resourced rural schools.
"It was an eye-opening and humbling experience," he said. "It is amazing that despite having so little and facing such huge challenges, everyone works together and remains enthusiastic about education. These are poor communities who struggle to finance education and are extremely grateful to receive this kind of support, and it is heartening to see that as a community they all stand behind education, despite their limited resources."
Schools around the country are selected based on need and potential, with convoys of sponsors and volunteers making the annual trip over weekends in May and June to welcoming groups of excited learners, teachers and parents. Thereafter the READ Educational Trust trains the teachers and monitors and supports the schools for the next three years.
This year Rally to READ:
- raised more than R7 million in sponsorships,
- will distribute educational materials in excess of R10 million,
- will reach more than 122 rural schools, 1 356 teachers and 37 000 learners.
RamsayMedia has long been involved in the initiative and this year, together with the Norton Ramsay Foundation, donated R26 500 to the project – one of 17 companies that collectively raised R660 000 in the Western Cape. The company’s annual involvement extends to active participation in the rallies, editorial coverage and the donation of magazines.
"I was encouraged by the growth that the Rally to READ has shown over the years and how they continue to reach more and more communities," concluded Werner. "If ever there was a doubt about our ongoing support of this programme, I am convinced it is probably the best thing one can do with R26,500. Further, this is not an investment in BEE, it is an investment in the children – in the future – of South Africa."