The 100km challenge is a gruelling exercise for social media users attempting to run, walk or jog 100km every month. For 15-year-old Faranani Rambuwani and the other children of Muremelani village in Venda, Limpopo it is the price of an education.
The children as young as 5-years-old are racking up 120km a month just walking to and from school.
Faranani had enjoyed a short reprieve from the tiresome walks to and from school, riding his donkey to school where he would tie it to a tree until it was time to ride back home.
The recent death of his donkey has dealt Faranani and his family a heavy blow. The long distance he has to walk daily threatens his academic career.
Although Faranani is 15 years old, he is only in Grade 6 and struggles to keep up with his schoolwork because he is tired and distracted at school.
Forgotten by time and the Department of Education
Children growing up in cities and suburbs grow up rolling their eyes at stories their grandparents walking many kilometres to school.
For the children of Muremelani village, and other similar villages in South Africa, it is a reality as it was for their parent and their parents before them.
“Faranani started school at Tshiheni Primary school when he was 6; he did his Grade R there and was very young. He walked to school early in the morning with other children and walked back with them again in the afternoon,” says Faranani’s older brother Mpho.
Although long walks to and from school have been the unfortunate situation for the children of Muremelani, there was hope that the situation would change however the community of the small village has been left disappointed and forgotten by The Department of Education.
“Many years ago we were told that there was an arrangement between the government and the school to have safe transport for the children, but it did not happen. The children are tired by the time they get to school, they sleep, they cannot learn and in the afternoon when they get back they are too tired to do homework or study. The children don’t learn as they should.
It’s a hard life for Faranani
There are many children like Faranani growing up in villages across South Africa. If it had not been for a Facebook user pleading for help on behalf of Faranani and his family, we may not have heard of his plight at all.
Faranani lives with his elderly aunt Selinah, who is also unemployed. They survive on social grants and the inconsistent income of his older brother Mpho.
“I do piece-jobs. It isn’t easy, it isn’t stable, but I do what I can to put food on the table,” says Mpho.
Faranani’s father passed away in 2008 followed by his mother in 2011, leaving Faranani an orphan.
“Having parents made things better for Faranani, but life has always been hard, we have always been poor,” says Mpho.
An outpouring of love
Since a photo of Faranani on his donkey was first published on Facebook on the 30th of September, South African’s have shared their heartbreak over Franani’s situation across social media, many have vowed to help the young man with donations of school uniform, food and money, however, there still is no lasting solution to Faranani’s problems.
(This article first appeared in ALL4WOMEN)