We caught up with Shiven Gopi from Durban who fixes old and broken toys donated by community members into good-as-new toys for children in need.
Toys open a world of learning opportunities and fun for children. Playing with toys allows them to use their creativity while developing their imagination.
One man who has devoted his time to ensure that kids never lack toys because of not being able to afford them is Shiven Gopi.
“I don’t know of any child who doesn’t like toys. Apart from it being lots of fun, toys in all different forms can educate kids,” says Shiven.
“Someone may want to be a fireman after playing with a firetruck. It encourages imagination,” adds Shiven.
The 31-year-old man who describes himself as fun and hardworking says he didn’t have many toys growing up and started revamping his own toys from an early age.
“We didn’t have many toys. Whatever toys we did have, we took care of it. I remember once, around 10 years of age, taking the lights from my shoes (the ones that light up when you walk) and putting them in my toy truck to give it lights – clearly I enjoyed fixing things and making things work from very little,” he says.
Shiven went on to study electronics and decided to use his skill to help the less fortunate.
“Toys are expensive, and kids grow out of them, so in this way, I am able to give the toy a new lease of life and make another child happy,” he says.
“We have already donated toys to an under-resourced children’s home in Durban, to children from villages in the Valley of 1000 Hills just outside Durban, to an orphanage in the north of Durban, as well as to individual children who we knew would appreciate them,” says Shiven.
He adds that his initiative has been well-received.
“The response this festive season has been overwhelming, so my aim is to continue the project throughout the year so that there is enough time, and opportunity for people to sort through their toys for donation,” he says.
For the future, Shiven says he hopes to continue making a difference in the lives of needy kids by giving them toys.
“I also have other aims with the project such as teaching someone the skills to fix, so that they can get involved in the project, or even create their own employment,” he concludes.
To donate toys, contact Shiven on Facebook.