By Kay-Dee Mashile
2014 Activator Siyabulela “DJ Schoolbag” Ngobozana is truly an artist! With an artistic career that began in 2006 while Siya was in high school, Siya has toured internationally and formed part of various artistic groups from dance to music. While invited to an event in November 1998, Siya noticed that some learners were carrying their school books in plastic bags. This deeply concerned Siya and led him to engaging with the learners which exposed him to their needs. As Siya says, he realised that the need was not only for the actual schoolbag but for the content thereof as well… having had realised this, Siya headed to Facebook to find out if people would be willing to assist the learners. The positive response he received motivated Siya and was the birth of the National Donate a Schoolbag (DAS) Campaign.
The campaign has been running for three years and counting. To date, DAS has raised and donated 556 schoolbags, a laptop, 50 packets of Mia sanitary pads and school uniforms. Over and above school bags, DAS seeks to assist underprivileged learners with essentials such as school uniforms, stationary, food, registration and accommodation while studying at different institutions of higher learning.
DAS is currently working on their Kids in Colour FUNd-raising day which will take place on the 10th of March 2018 at Rakele Park Wattille, Ekurhuleni. The event will include fun activities such as jumping castles, trampolines and various slides. Tickets cost R50.00 and the profit made will be used to buy schoolbags for underprivileged learners. DAS invites anyone who would to sell their products at the event to rent a stall for R100 and 3 or more schoolbags for the whole day. Renters who sell products that relate to the DAS mandate are asked to donate their products as well. For instance, Mia committed to donating a box of sanitary pads for every box they sell at the event. In addition to this, the DAS team urges anyone in the Ekurhuleni area who can volunteer to assist with sound, a stage and an event fence to kindly donate these services for the event to be a success.
As a Bio Plus ambassador, Siya and DAS will be forming part of this year’s Bio Plus Career Expo to improve maths and science education across the country. In addition to that, the team is also planning another event in the West Rand on the 28th of April; the venue is yet to be confirmed (keep an eye on the A! Events page for details). If you live in and around these areas and would like to attend or volunteer at the event, contact Siya (contact details are listed at the end of the article).
With the help of many volunteers and fellow Activators across the country, Siya aims to register DAS as a Foundation and reach at least 100 000 learners across South Africa by 2020. In order to reach this target, Siya invites all Activators in the literacy space to come on board and collaborate with DAS to ensure that we all work together to ensure maximum impact in South Africa, then Southern Africa and then the rest of the African continent. As it is said, “one can reach 1 000 but two can reach 10 000”.
If you have a literacy related project or a tutoring initiative, please get in touch with Siya at the contact details below to find out you can partner with DAS. If you have skills or knowledge the can assist learners within your area, in any part of South Africa, also contact Siya and commit a day a week to tutoring under DAS. You can also put together a team of young people who will be willing to source funding and schoolbag donations within your area. The reality is, most communities struggle with the same challenge that Siya’s community faces. However, you must be the one to stand up and drive the change in your community with the help and guidance of DAS.
Should you not be able to commit time to the project due to other commitments, please spread the word and have the people within your network to donate stationary, books, sanitary products, food, money, services and schoolbags. Should you be willing to donate, get in touch with Siya. Should you have non-school related reading material, feel free to donate them to campaign as the team is also look to start after school reading clubs and libraries. You’re also encouraged to email any ideas that you may have for the campaign to the team.
For any more information and inquiries, follow the National Donate a Schoolbag Facebook page or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also text, whatsapp or call Siya at 061 3770 745.
For tickets to attend the DAS Kids in Colour event, visit www.webticket.co.za or go to and Pick n Pay to get your ticket at R50 for children and R30 adult early bird tickets.