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Capturing children’s happiness – a novel community project

A picture of a child at Olievenhoutbosch Christian School with her photograph

7 November 2012 - As a leading, global provider of engineering, management and specialist technical services, Aurecon is making a daily difference in the communities in which it works.

Being innovative and making a difference is intrinsic to the work of the company’s people, expressed through the corporate value ‘We work to build a vibrant and brighter future for all’. 

This determination to have a positive impact is seen in a flourishing corporate citizenship programme that obtains much of its impetus from passionate individuals with big hearts such as Bernice Bothma, an Associate Project Manager in the company’s Environment and Advisory (E&A) Unit.

Aurecon staff are encouraged to initiate and be directly involved in community support and development projects. Combining her love for children with an enthusiasm to give back to the community, for the last two and a half years Bernice has been helping to create and drive support for various projects, mainly for schools in Tshwane. She has also been part of successful initiatives with her E&A Unit colleagues, involving the collection of blankets and books, as well as raising money for books, which were donated to the Booysens Beertjies Pre-School and the Adult Community Centre in Danville.

In October this year, Bernice undertook a novel project for the Olievenhoutbosch Christian School: she took photographs of each and every child at the school and made them into attractive presentation folders to give to the children at their Christmas concert.

“Some of the children had never had a photo of themselves before and it was tremendously rewarding to capture the happiness on the faces of these youngsters who have so little. They are incredibly proud of their school,” says Bernice.

“The project was made possible by the support of my unit manager, Gustav Weich, who was enthusiastic about the idea and authorised the printing of the photographs using Aurecon’s equipment.”

Olievenhoutbosch Christian School was established in 2002 by a small group from Kerksondermure (ChurchWithoutWalls) as an independent foundation phase facility (grade 0-4), and the only provider in the area of remedial education for children with special needs.

The Olievenhoutbosch community has a rapidly expanding population currently estimated at 50 000, more than half of whom are probably children of school-going age. With only four primary schools and one high school in the area, there is a desperate need for more education, sports and life skills facilities.

“The list of needs for schools such as Olievenhoutbosch Christian School stretches beyond the horizon,” comments Bernice.

“We have to concentrate on gaining as much support as possible and focus on achieving one realistic step at a time. We have managed to raise funds to buy new desks, we want to get soccer and netball teams started next year and fund outings for the children. Meanwhile, we have applied to the City of Tshwane to buy and rezone the land for the school and provide a solid foundation to continue giving local, needy children a happy, well-balanced start in life.”

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