by GIFT NDOLWANE
JOHANNESBURG – EVERY year, mostly in winter, poor South Africans who rely on paraffin as their only source of energy continue to be exposed to shack-related fires, paraffin-related burns and deaths.
Paraffin ingesting can also have serious health implications.
Engen, the oil and gas company, has in an effort to address the scourge, launched an initiative to raise awareness of these dangers among primary school children.
The annual Engen KlevaKidz, launched in the Western Cape, is an educational campaign that uses industrial theatre to engage and educate learners across South Africa about the importance of paraffin safety.
Launched at Mkhanyiseli Primary School in Nyanga at the beginning of May, the campaign will visit 30 schools in the province, including primary schools in Nyanga, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Philippi, Mitchells Plain, Muizenberg and Crossroads over the next two weeks.
Super hero safety educator, Mr Wise, plays a starring role.
Engen KlevaKidz takes the form of an interactive educational stage drama using engaging characters to relay key safety messages in the learners’ mother tongues including Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa and English, combined with jingles to reinforce the theme.
Since its inception in 2008, Engen KlevaKidz has reached over 198 714 learners in 548 schools across South Africa – from rural villages deep in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape to townships in Gauteng, the Western Cape and Free State.
Adhila Hamdulay, Engen Corporate Social Investment Manager, said youngsters in under-resourced households are often the primary day-time care givers, often looking after their siblings while their parents or guardians are at work.
“Without supervision, and uninformed of the multiple dangers associated with using paraffin, children between the ages of 7 and 13 are often vulnerable, and it is these children who are the focus of Engen KlevaKidz,” Hamdulay said.
Engen is South Africa’s leading supplier of paraffin, through the Laurel Paraffin brand.
“As a leading provider of petroleum products in South Africa, we take this to heart and are honoured to contribute to the livelihoods and the safety of people,” Hamdulay said.