30 August 2016 – Saint Andrew’s welcomed Martie du Plessis School for Special Needs Headmaster Francois van Heerden and pupil Charles Marais to Chapel on Thursday morning.

Since he was in pre-primary, Charles, who is in a wheelchair, has been supported by the Saint Andrew’s Interact Club. Now, 14 years later, he will soon be writing his matric exams.

Charles Marais

The Saint Andrew’s Interact Club hosted Charles Marais at Chapel on Tuesday morning

Addressing, the Saints’ boys, Mr van Heerden thanked them for their support and encouraged them to tackle life with hope. “We are only disabled when we don’t have hope,” he said.

Charles, too, thanked the school and presented the President of the Saint Andrew’s Interact Club, Malcolm Chigawa, with a framed photograph that captured the bonds formed between himself and Saints.

“A pillar of strength”

Describing what his relationship with the Interact Club had meant to him, Charles said: “It has been a real privilege, because on days when I have wanted to give up Saint Andrew’s has always been there for me, a pillar of strength.

“They lift my spirits, and I haven’t felt alone. They have always been there for me and encouraging me.”

Saints’ Interact President Malcolm Chigawa explained Saints’ support for Charles: “Sometimes we would aid with him with financial resources. Recently we bought a wheelchair for him. We also helped him with his basic needs.”

“The reward is in the joy we see in him”

Questioned what the Interact Club got out of working with Charles, Malcolm responded: “The reward is in the joy that we see in him, and in him succeeding through our help. That is a great reward.”

And lessons learnt from being a part of the Interact Club? “I have taken on how goodwill and charity can really make an impact in other people’s lives. The things that we take for granted are really seen in other people and how they truly appreciate them. It helps us, it helps me, to feel the need to help others.”

“The little they can do goes a long way”

Assisting people like Charles also had a positive impact on the wider Saints’ community, he said: “It makes them more encouraged to help, and to see that the little they can do goes a long way.”

As the outgoing President of the Interact Club, Malcolm described himself as “very proud” to be a part of the positive work they do to make other’s lives better.