Dear Parents, Guardians and Significant Others,
A week ago – 1st May – we celebrated Worker’s Day. On reflection, I began to think of the significance of the day. For me, it was a day when we remembered the courage of the working class. Those who have fought for protection and recognition of their skills and their value in their country’s economy.
History has shown that revolutions were ignited by the common catalyst of a defiant working class. In 1909, the Garment Workers strike in New York, saw thousands of ladies march to raise awareness of their poor working conditions. In our own South Africa, it was the workers that led the Durban Strike of 1973, effectively re-energising the anti-apartheid movements, after a lull in the 1960s.
These examples reveal the immense power that every person possesses when part of a collective. For, extraordinary change did not begin with high-powered politicians or military leaders, but with a common drive for change, arising from the “average worker”. Furthermore, it shows us the importance of our workers. Many of these oppressive regimes were forced to agree to workers’ demands because when workers stopped working, the country fell apart.
These lessons have yet again been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Without the working class, the masks, ventilators and all other items that are necessary to fight the virus, would not be manufactured and delivered. Essential services cannot be rendered without the input of the working class. During this lockdown period, without the support of caregivers, groundskeepers and employees, for many, homes and businesses are not their usual “well-oiled machines”. Thousands are unable to go to work, meaning they are not able to provide for their families. The very absence of these unsung heroes has shown us exactly how heroic they are. This should heighten our appreciation for those who do so much to keep our homes intact, businesses running and families fed.
I believe that it is important that our appreciation is more than just in our words but should be reflected in our actions. Millions of South Africans are suffering from starvation, poor hygiene, and overcrowding. Now is the time for us to show our appreciation and help where we can.
I have been moved by the way our Hilton community and the wider South African community, has bound together during these unprecedented times. Although, lockdown may be easing, struggles of our fellow man will not, necessarily, follow suit. I ask that we do not ease up, we continue to help, and we continue to exemplify the characteristics of generosity and compassion. I ask that you support our school’s newly established “Run for Africa, Run for Lives” campaign – which will feed thousands of South Africans simply by you running -- or be creative in designing other methods of assistance. Especially now, our help is needed.
To the essential services, the security guards, the nurses, the doctors, our teachers and all those who continue to risk their lives and work hard to keep us safe, address our needs and ensure our education continues unhindered – we thank you.
Like the defiant New York garment workers or determined Durban strikers, I believe that with a unified, concerted effort, there exists no challenge we cannot surmount. For as a collective, the South African spirit is indomitable.
We hope to see you soon. Until then, we ask that you stay safe and healthy.
Warmest Lockdown regards,
Hlumelo Notshe, Thabiso Dlamini and the Leadership Team 2020