Story told by Rodger Sedres
Last week, after my appeal for a pair of running shoes for one of South Africa’s top up-and-coming junior athletes, there was an overwhelming response to the plight of 13 year old Durando Aweries. Aweries is a Grade 7 pupil at Heidedal Primary School in Borcherds, an impoverished community in the fast growing Southern Cape town of George in the Western Cape.
I received a call from one of South Africa’s biggest sporting icons, Elana Meyer, who asked that I collect a box from her, for Durando. That’s when I decided I was going to personally deliver the box to him, at his school in George. He is one of a group of a total of 44 walkers and most of the Athletics South Western Districts team is made up of learners of Heidedal Primary, something the school principal, Mr Irvin Scheepers, is immensely proud of.
I visited the family home up on the hill overlooking the N2 national road. Mr Koos and Mrs Naomi Aweries explained at length the reason why Durando doesn’t run/walk with shoes. Not because he chose not to wear them but because there wasn’t, as still is, no money. “We do what we can and give them the best with what we can afford. Durando is a very humble and shy child and because we couldn’t give him the desire of his heart, he chose rather to compete barefoot than not at all.”
Koos is a committed family man and works as a front-end loader operator from 07h00 to 17h00 every day. Naomi takes care of the household. They are a loving and caring family. Koos explains that about 6 years ago, they gave up their double bed in their one bedroomed house, to Durando and his twin sister, Angelique, so they could rest properly in order to learn at school. The other sister, Ellenore, also shares the bedroom in a ¾ bed. Koos and Naomi sleep on the floor on a large sponge, in the kitchen at night. It’s their sacrifice for their children, he says.
Breakfast is a slice of bread and black tea. Milk is a luxury in the Aweries’s home. The evening meals consist of rice and potatoes and an occasional pot of soup. “Tannie” Mari Zwieglaar and Sharon Losper, are the two coaches of these race walkers and have so much admiration for the children who strive to rise above their circumstances. “Durando is an exceptional athlete because he learns from his mistakes and he puts in so much more effort, which makes him stand out above the rest of the group. Now that Durando has shoes, I believe his times will improve so much better and become quicker.”
Race walking coach, Carl Meyer, was astounded at Durando at last weekend’s national championships and equated his technique to the legendary Ecuadorian race walker, Jefferson Perez.
For all those who would like to support Durando and his teammates in Athletics SWD, contact Mrs Shireen Noble on 0833191281 or firstname.lastname@example.org . She would greatly appreciate your generosity and kindness.
Heidedal Primary: 044 8758330 (Mrs Sharon Losper and Mr Irvin Scheepers)
Mrs Mari Zwieglaar: 0827016106; Mr Koos Aweries: 0633598010