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: