World Teacher Day Goodmass

A teacher from the Northern Cape has stolen South Africa’s hearts while helping a little differently-abled girl in a school athletics race.


Northern Cape, South Africa – Riaan van Straten, an ex-provincial rugby player who is now in charge of sport at Curro Kathu Independent School in the Northern Cape, said he didn’t know why his actions had touched so many hearts, Netwerk24 reported.

“I expect every guy to be like that,” he said. “That is how I was brought up.”

Van Straten found Angela Motswamere at the starting line of a race… waiting and raring for her turn at the school’s inter-house athletics meeting last Friday.

One of the ‘Starters’ had called the Sports teacher for assistance.

“The starter said there was a physically disabled [child] who wanted to run and that someone would have to help her.”

He initially thought Angela was paralysed but upon realizing that she didn’t have lower legs, picked her up and put her on his back.

“When I first saw her, I thought she was sitting on her knees. It was only when she got up, that I realised that she didn’t have lower legs and just put her on my back to participate.”

“Angela was giggling the entire way.”

Van Straten said it was a bit of a challenge running with her on his back.

“At the start, I thought it would be unfair to run away from the other children. But it was heavy going with Angela on my back. I had to try hard not to finish last.

“But it isn’t where we finished the race which mattered. I couldn’t see Angela’s face while we were running, but when I put her down, she laughed all the time and was all smiles. That was the most precious. She and I had both enjoyed it.”

The other teachers had told Van Straten that the determined little girl would’ve tackled the race on her stumps if he hadn’t given her the piggyback ride.

Van Straten and his wife Joanie have their own challenges at home.

Their two-year-old daughter Carli was born with four different heart defects and has already undergone three open-heart surgeries.

“We are rearing her the same as any of the other children. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to help Angela.”

The schools Facebook has been inundated with messages and comments since photos were posted.

Mynie de la Rey said: Wow!!!! There is so much love that is being shown. Well done!!! That little girl will remember this day forever.”

Lezanne Shone posted: Thank you Mr Riaan. You’ll never let our kids come last, especially not in the race of life.” 

Verona Muller commented: This is indeed somebody that shows that no discrimination should be made. It is so wonderful.

Check out some of the race pics below:

Differently Abled Curro School

Riaan van Straten Curro Kathu School 1 Riaan van Straten Curro Kathu School 2

Sources: Netwerk24 | Curro Kathu School
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens.
Click the link below to listen to the Good Things Guy Podcast, with Brent Lindeque – South Africa’s very own Good Things Guy. He’s on a mission to change what the world pays attention to, and he truly believes that there’s good news all around us. In the Good Things Guy podcast, you’ll meet these everyday heroes & hear their incredible stories:

Or watch an episode of Good Things TV below, a show created to offer South Africans balance in a world with what feels like constant bad news. We’re here to remind you that there are still so many good things happening in South Africa & we’ll hopefully leave you feeling a little more proudly South African. 

Facebook Comments

Brent Lindeque
About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.


  1. To witness this story makes my heart & my eyes overflow! It is not just the paticipants that were built up.. by having a glimpse of the scenario our hearts are inspired to make a difference in our own “sheres of influence”… what a difference we could all make by putting this into “action”… publishing these stories builds our nation with Hope and inspires Kindness!

    “Encourage one another and build each other up.”

  2. This is just a confirmation that there is good in this world,and let’s focused on the good and run with the good until the end of times,thank you Mr van straten,God used u that moment to show South Africa that there is still goodness on His planet earth!what a godly picture this is!!!! Amen

  3. How AMAZING! He has created a moment here that will touch many lives not just the little princess he carried xxx That should be each and everyone’s goal every day….to make a difference for others by simply putting a smile on their face xxx

  4. May God bless you!
    I am crying as I write this.
    It is so beautiful.
    That little girl will never forget the experience and it will really encourage her to do whatever an able-bodied person can.

  5. As a mother of 2 physically challenged boys, i know exactly how it feels to a child who want to participate in what other kids are doing but cant.we need more people like you in this world so that when we are not there we are at easy knowing someone will help our kids. Big up to you. May God richly bless you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *