Outdated school uniforms help children in Africa

Teacher Judy Riddell, who travelled to Africa, with a photograph of her school’s former uniforms ready for distribution. Picture: Mathew Lynn

What was initially seen as a great problem for Sunbury’s Red Rock Christian College turned into a chance to make a lasting difference.

Wanting to reflect its growth as a school, and working towards the planned introduction of secondary students in 2017, Red Rock last year decided to change its uniform.

In switching suppliers, the school was required to purchase the entire stock of custom-made items, including shirts, jackets, jumpers and bags.

Principal Karen McCoy says the school wasn’t sure what to expect when staff, heading to South Africa to support a group called Hands at Work, suggested they take the uniforms with them.

‘‘They got it all over there only to discover these were actually the things that the group was looking for,’’ Ms McCoy says.

Pale blue polo shirts were perfect for boys wanting to play soccer.

‘‘Hands at Work has a number of care points, where children come from school each day and are given a meal,’’ Ms McCoy says.

‘‘The boys love to play soccer, but they can’t get their school uniform dirty as they have no means of cleaning it.’’

Raincoats and jumpers have gone to mountainous areas near the border with Swaziland.

‘‘Something we saw as a problem for us turned out to be a great blessing, not only for them but also for us,’’ Ms McCoy says.

The experience has been a great lesson for Red Rock pupils. ‘‘It proves to them we can all do something, and all of those little somethings can make a real difference.’’