Angel project aims to empower community

Paul Talliard outside the Hands of Honour with Glenda Hendricks who runs the soup kitchen.

A Steenberg resident who overcame his drug addiction is now spreading a message of hope through the community by addressing the root cause of unemployment.

Paul Talliard started non-profit organisation Hands of Honour six years ago. Their mission is to employ people to build educational hubs for under-resourced schools.

In this way they are creating jobs and contributing to a solid educational base for many children.

The Angel Classroom on Wheels, a mobile unit, has already been given to 55 early learning centres in disadvantaged areas.

One of these centres is Precious Little Angels Daycare in Retreat, who got their classroom on May 5.

Mr Talliard said: “The unit is mobile, a clever space-saver, and comprises of a mini library, chalkboard, puppet theatre, bench or work desk all rolled into one, and comes with educational resources that support the three main pillars of early learning: numeracy, literacy and life skills. Educational toys help with fine motor, special and sequential skills.”

The Angel Classroom on Wheels was a winner of an innovation award: the Swarm Vision Global Innovators Future of Education 2016 campaign for furniture and tools that inspire critical thinking and creativity in young children.

The classrooms are sponsored by corporations, foundations and individuals.

Mr Talliard said the resources in the classrooms stimulate the child’s mind in preparation for primary school.

Owner of Precious Little Angels Daycare, Samantha Prock, was in tears when they received the classroom.

“I am very happy for these tools. The children are enjoying learning and reading and having conversations about the pictures in the books.”

Mr Talliard said Hands of Honour is addressing two major problems in South Africa.

“The lack of resources in township early learning centres and large scale unemployment.

‘’Studies have shown that learning to read at an early age opens the door to your child’s early academic success, and leads to higher grades in every subject. In South Africa 50% of children below the age of five are affected by abject poverty, while 60% of children under the age of four do not have access to any form of ECD programmes.

“It is hoped that the distribution of the Angel Classroom on Wheels would enable the next generation of problem solvers and leaders,” said Mr Talliard.

He started Hands of Honour to show others that there is always hope no matter how dire the situation may seem.

“In 2011, I entered a local church soup kitchen, weighing only 55 kilograms, and battling a drug addiction. I managed to turn my life around with the help of some really wonderful people. Shortly after, I started Hands of Honour,” said Mr Talliard.

“We get sponsorships from building construction companies and other companies to support our up-cycling project.

“Up-cycling is a lot like recycling but not. Recycling is when you use the same thing over and over. However, up-cycling is when you take something that is broken and add value to it and then you sell it. The retail value goes up, of course.”

Mr Talliard said while he would motivate other drug addicts to make a life for themselves, he noticed that the men were jobless and he wanted to encourage them to work. “I recruit men from soup kitchens to work for us. Because I was just like them. So, I give them a bit of hope. We can’t see that a father, son and grandson are hanging around at a soup kitchen. They can come work for me.”

Twice a year, they use a percentage of their profits to transform a community eyesore and so far 16 previously unattractive spaces have been transformed. “For example we took open spaces and created vegetable gardens and we planted trees. We also upgraded and renovated school halls and scout halls,” he said.

“When donation times are tough, we rely heavily on the sale of our up-cycled goods,” he said.

Profits are spent on wages for 16 full and part-time jobs, while up to 50 men receive a stipend for participating in a regeneration project,. We are trying to give hope to men who think it is too late to change their lives,” said Mr Talliard.

To find out how you can get involved with Hands of Honour, or to sponsor an Angel Classroom on Wheels, contact Mr Talliard on 021 824 1404 or 072 138 9150 or handsofhonour@gmail.com