By organising 150 meal packs for the marginalised in Pretoria, schoolboy Ashton Frodsham is helping our citizens by following MAHATMA GHANDI who once said that a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members. It is a meaningful notion, and one that should be pursued the world over. But all too often, the rich lives in clover, the poor get stuck in a spiral they cannot emerge from.
While a majority of our population in SA are floundering among governmental red-tape and a care-free attitude exhibited by many far more well off than themselves, the nation sits with an appalling unemployment rate of nearly 30 percent, more than 17 million people dependent on social grants and millions more living below the poverty line. Somebody needs to curb this epidemic, or at least try and make a dent in it.
Take Ashton Frodsham, a Grade 10 pupil from St Alban’s College in Pretoria, for example. He is without any shadow of a doubt a model citizen – and this at only 16 years of age. He is in no small part responsible for a community upliftment programme that ought to inspire scores to head something similar in the near future. Ashton’s aim is (for starters) to provide breakfast meal packs to 150 people in Pretoria for six months through his ‘Breakfast For A Buddy’ campaign.
He looks like an ordinary school pupil at face value. He excels at academics, he is socially very popular and he is a great lover of sport. Ashton loves hockey, golf, rugby and cricket in particular. He was the captain of his school’s U16 cricket team, and it was through this sport that he gained a great sense of community and altruism. In fact, he was a small boy when he insisted that he’d give money to the car guards, his mother, Brenda, recalls. Ashton was 11 in fact when he managed to raise R15 000 to pay towards medical bills for a fellow cricketer from a different school.
“When I was 11, I loved cricket more than anything. It was my life. The one day in class my Afrikaans teacher, Juffrou Fourie, told the class that a few boys had been pulling on the cricket covers and got struck by lightning and that some of the boys had been hurt. One boy was critical and would need serious medical intervention. The boy was a very talented cricketer and was on a bursary so the school, King Edward VII School, would be raising money to support him,” Ashton recalls.
“I didn’t know Mpheto, but I connected with this story because of my love for cricket and I wanted to do something. So I bought a cricket bat with my pocket money and started a raffle at school. I got some of my cricket mates and my sister involved to help me raise the money. I was so pleased to have raised the R15 000 which I got to hand over to the school. Sadly, I never got to meet Mpheto as he was still in medical care at the time. He remained there for quite some time (in rehabilitation). It was in that year, that I was awarded Lead SA Hero of the Month in March.”
Ashton first made use of the South African online fundraising platform, BackaBuddy, in 2015 when he was new to St Alban’s. Fate would have it that a parent would introduce him to former Proteas batsman, Alviro Petersen. The cricketing gear Ashton had collected with his grandfather had a place to go. Alviro told him about an initiative to bring disadvantaged schoolboys from the Eastern Cape to play in a cricket tournament in Pretoria. He managed to raise an astonishing R46 000 to cover their flights, accommodation, travel and meals.
This brings us to 2017, where Aston once again made use of BackaBuddy and the organisation’s marketing officer, Zane Groenewald, is all too happy to have an individual like Ashton on board. “At Backabuddy we have witnessed the potential of crowdfunding to transform lives and unite people from all walks of life. We have seen the importance of being well networked but also learned not to underestimate the kindness of strangers when it comes to the human condition,” Zane said. “Crowdfunding provides individuals such as Ashton an opportunity pursue community projects they are passionate about through securing a number of small donations rather than relying on government and large organisations for support.”
Their mission now is to accrue enough funds to provide over 25 000 of the famed St Alban’s breakfast meal packs to 150 marginalised city dwellers. Too many feeding schemes are feeling the financial brunt and Ashton believes that a surviving one like the St Alban’s Cathedral will benefit greatly.
His inspiration for the ‘Breakfast for a Buddy’ campaign actually stemmed from a St Alban’s tradition called ‘Journey’. It is also fitting that he chose BackaBuddy as his platform of choice. In just a few short years BackaBuddy has raised R43.6-million for a host of charities and causes in South Africa – over R500 000 was raised recently in fire relief in Knysna.
“In March this year, all the Grade 10 boys were required to complete Journey, a tradition at St Albans. Journey is 23-day-long hike covering 400 kilometres on foot (and some days bicycles) carrying all that we need ourselves. Before Journey took place, all the boys were required to raise money to buy Khubeka bikes that we would use on Journey and then donate to a community afterwards,” Ashton says.
“A buddy and I initiated the fundraiser in my house (MacRobert House). We sold slushies and raised just over R4 000 doing this. At the time I had said to my mom that maybe when I got back from Journey I would do more so that more bikes could be bought. However, when I returned I knew that I wanted to do something different – something related to food. On Journey, I didn’t struggle physically but I was always hungry – my version of hungry – even though we were given food three times a day. I became very aware of the importance of a meal. I absolutely LOVED the breakfast meal packs and wanted to share this with others. Not just because is delicious and filling but it’s easy to make… just add water. I discussed this with my tutor, Mr Des Turton and he was immediately supportive of the idea. This is where all the work started.”
“Quite simply I’m a very lucky mom to have Ashton as a son. Ashton always thinks of others and considers others. Not just when it comes to community work but in general everyone around him,” his mother Brenda says. “He really cares, he is considerate and he wants to make a real difference. It comes as no surprise that he chosen to take on another community project and this time even more ambitious! And that too is no surprise as Ashton dreams are big. Our entire family is incredibly proud of him!”
PAY IT FORWARD
ASHTON’S BackaBuddy campaign has raked in a whopping R67 000, but he’ll need all the help he can get. Donations big or small can be made to www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/breakfast-for-a-buddy-campaign. BackaBuddy’s Marketing Officer, Zane Groenewald, can also be contacted on 082 602 0735.