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E Cape government spokesman gets merry

Johannesburg -

Eastern Cape health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo definitely knows how to throw a Christmas party to uplift the lives of poor children in his province.

“When I see a poor person, even those begging on the streets, I find myself crying.

Why does this gap between rich and poor widen? Why does God allow this?” asked Kupelo.

On Christmas day, hundreds of children from Mthatha will take part in the annual Christmas event he now organises.

Kupelo - who has worked for the provincial health department for 12 years - said he was inspired to begin the event after he received a performance award of R5 000 in 2008.

“I decided to spend it with a group of 120 kids.”

Since then Kupelo's Christmas parties have grown bigger, as he has received more sponsorship.

Last year, instead of a party, Kupelo found sponsors to donate 600 pairs of shoes and 50 computers for schools in the area.

But this year Kupelo is back in celebration mode - and is going big with lots of food, toys, jumping castles and even helicopter rides.

“One of the young scholars, he told his teacher he wanted to be 'a Sizwe'.

He knows me because I'm from the same village.”

Kupelo said however the boy was slightly confused.

“I once arrived in the village in a chopper.”

He said rather than be a government spokesman, the boy actually wanted to be a pilot.

This year, Kupelo has now organised a helicopter that will arrive with Santa Claus inside it.

He said he couldn't do the Santa suit himself for safety reasons.

“The kids might get crazy when they see the chopper.

I have to control things on the ground.”

Kupelo said it must be remembered how exciting these sort of adventures were for children from rural, poverty-stricken homes.

“It is something for a rural boy - even a jumping castle is something out of this world. They always see it on a TV. They don't even know what it is.”

This year there would be three jumping castles - one in the standard shape of the medieval dwelling, another in the shape of a crocodile and third that functions as a giant slide.

Food sponsors had been particularly generous.

Kupelo said two cakes had been donated and were so big that a bakkie was needed to transport them.

He said five sheep would also be slaughtered.

“We are going to have a braai.”

The generous spokesman said there was no VIP guest list, and all children from the area were welcome to come, and bring their friends along.

Most of the kids that attend Kupelo's parties are aged between three and 12. - Sapa

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