The Epiroc culture of giving-back changes lives, one community at a time

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Epiroc South Africa, a leading productivity partner for the mining, infrastructure and natural resources industries, is no stranger to being a corporate citizen and giving back to the community. “It is part of the company’s proud ethos,” states Epiroc Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Judy Vilakazi. “We are an active participant in contributing to the social and economic development of the communities where we have presence. Where possible this is demonstrated by providing necessary intervention and applicable resources in uplifting local communities, schools and NPO’s (Non Profit Organisations) that are acting as social change agents.”

Epiroc received a recommendation from a customer, Mogalakwena Mine, to support a rural school that is located in one of the mine’s labour sending areas in Limpopo Province. This jumpstarted an initiative that saw Mmantutule Secondary School receive support from Epiroc in the form of a fully-equipped computer lab as well as the donation of 520 reusable Palesa Sanitary Pads. “These rural communities are left out from accessing the economy because they lack essential skills or resources to better equip their learners for the world of work,” notes Judy. “Female learners miss school days as they cannot afford sanitary pads. Epiroc wants to play an active role in providing solutions to these challenges. Initiatives such as these are of particular importance because of their developmental nature.”

Located in Limpopo’s Mesopotamia, Mapela district, Mmantutule Secondary School was founded by Chief Hans Langa in 1970 to address the need for a school in the area. With a capacity for 964 learners, the school is completely reliant on Government grants. Jane Lekalakala, Principal of Mmantutule, explains that they face many challenges which vary from a shortage of textbooks and study guides to school uniforms, desks and chairs, a library, a kitchen and ablution facilities. “The Covid-19 pandemic forced schools to close but our learners did not have the equipment for online study at home. This has been a very difficult time for us.”

Judy points out that computer literacy is a crucial skill for the workplace and the world of technology. “The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the education of most learners and research shows learners have missed out on about 70% of normal learning, a truly concerning statistic. But of even greater concern is the fact that countless learners do not have access to infrastructure and resources to make online learning possible. Covid-19 and its accompanying lockdown regulations have made it abundantly clear that online learning and access to technology is a need for all learners in our country.

With this in mind, Epiroc, in partnership with a local IT company, provided Mmantutule Secondary School with a computer lab equipped with 20 Dell desktops, furniture, a smartboard and a printer. Epiroc Regional General Manager, Wayne Sterley made an additional commitment to supplying an air-conditioning unit for the lab as well as to sponsoring the training of a computer teacher to manage the lab for the school. “We are confident that these resources will go a long way to bridge the IT gap and have a positive impact on the lives of the learners,” adds Judy.

According to Judy, the school’s appreciation was overwhelming as was their commitment to utilising the computer lab efficiently. She adds that the local Tribal Authority also graced the occasion and expressed their gratitude for the investment.

As part of Women’s Month Epiroc saw it fit to close off the month with the donation of 520 Palesa Sanitary Pads to female learners at Mmantutule. Manufactured by women, these sanitary pads are reusable, lasting up to five years with proper care. The donation was very well received and highly appreciated by the female learners at Mmantutule who are now able to take charge of their education and stay in school, never missing a school day due to not having sanitary pads.

Keeping it firmly within the community, Epiroc hired a local company to do the catering for the handover ceremony at Mmantutule on 31st August 2021. The event was attended by Wayne and Judy, together with six Managers from Epiroc: Johnny de Mesquita – Regional SHQ Manager, Kathryn Coetzer – Regional Communications and Indirect Sales Manager, Caiphus Bambo – Regional Supply and Replenishment Manager, Edward Meyer – Contract Manager, Vikesh Chiba – Automation Product Manager and Anesh Naidoo – Sales Manager Drilling Solutions Southern Africa.

Jane expressed her sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Epiroc team on behalf of all the educators and learners at Mmantutule Secondary School. “Judy has been a blessing to our school and we extend a sincere thank you to the Epiroc team for their generosity which will go a long way in making the lives of our learners easier. We welcome the computer lab with open arms.  Learners learn by seeing and doing things themselves so the lab will greatly facilitate both teaching and learning. Moreover, learners are now able to research, make findings and write reports on their own, teaching them learning independence. We are also especially thankful for the donation of the reusable sanitary towels. Our female learners who come from poor households will no longer have to worry about affording sanitary towels. There are truly no words to express our gratitude.”

Epiroc has been committed to the upliftment of communities for many years and will continue to mobilise sustainable initiatives such as these in a concerted effort to change lives, one community at a time.

The Mmantutule computer lab is officially open! FLTR Asnath Digashu (learner), Wayne Sterley (RGM Epiroc), Jane Lekalakala, School Principal, Lebo Nkadimeng (Socio Economic Development Manager, Mogalakwena Mine), Stephen Mokgotho (learner) and teachers.

Wayne Sterley (RGM Epiroc) handing over the computer lab keys to Jane Lekalakala (Mmantutule School Principal), with Judy Vilakazi (Epiroc CSR Manager) and Lebo Nkadimeng (Socio Economic Development Manager, Mogalakwena Mine).

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