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Voith’s Corporate Social Responsibility ensures sustainable impact

Dr Ngcuka examining Simphiwe Mbhele, a learner at Ithembelihle. Dr Ngcuka examining Simphiwe Mbhele, a learner at Ithembelihle.

Voith, a specialist for intelligent drive solutions and systems, believes that a long-term approach is a prerequisite to sustainable corporate social responsibility.

The company recently added medical assistance to its educational support for learners at Ithembelihle LSen School.

Ithembelihle LSen School, located in Primrose, Johannesburg, cares for 200 learners with physical disabilities such as muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and amputees and many learners board at the school.

Voith has provided donations to the Ithembelihle LSen School for the disabled in the form of educational technology including SMARTBoards, PCs and printers as well as financial software, training and support since 2011. When medical support was identified as a priority during a recent needs assessment at Ithembelihle, Voith immediately came to the school’s assistance. 

“Given the learners’ physical disabilities, the school requested regular visits by a medical doctor as well as the supply of medical stock,” says Voith Human Resources Manager, Penny Burrows. “We procured the services of HSP Group SA (Pty) Ltd, the company that manages our on-site occupational clinic, for a period of twelve months. In addition to providing a General Practitioner to attend to learners at the school for two hours a week, they are also supplying standard medical stock including bandages, cough syrup, ointments, etc., on a monthly basis.“

The General Practitioner, Dr Ngcuka, started at the School’s Clinic on 17th January, 2014 and saw a total of 19 learners that month.  The School is very positive about the impact Dr Ngcuka’s visits have had on the health and wellbeing of its learners. Dr Ngcuka referred four learners to an ENT programme, run by Lakeview Hospital, to have grommets fitted.

Ithembelihle Principal Mrs Ngozi who took the learners to the hospital says, “Although it was a long day, I was happy when the children woke up after the operation, feeling better and with big smiles on their faces.”

Disabled learners require specialist teaching and care which is expensive. Government grants are therefore not sufficient and the school is reliant on donations.

"The aim of our Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives is to ensure a positive long-term impact for the recipients,” says Voith Managing Director, Graham Russell. “A long-term approach also assists the school by making it possible to plan for future developments.”

“We are proud of our long-term business partnerships which are vital to ensure sustainable results for our customers,” continues Graham. “We want to ensure that our CSR initiatives mirror these long-standing partnerships so the decision to continue providing on-going support to Ithembelihle for this year was therefore an easy one.”

According to Penny, this support involves more than donations. “Voith personnel also offer their dedicated support to the school through volunteer work and personal donations. We celebrated the completion of a handrail painting project at the school in July last year with a movie day and a party for the learners. The past three years have been so rewarding because we can see tangible results and progress from the work we have done at the school. Teachers and administrative staff have been up-skilled and according to the Principal, a marked improvement in the learners’ progress has been noted as a result of the introduction of the interactive whiteboards.”

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